How The US Government Destroys The Lives Of Whistleblowers
from the there's-a-process? dept
One of the things we’ve heard over and over again from defenders of the NSA surveillance program is that Ed Snowden is somehow “not a whistleblower” because he could have just gone through “the proper channels” to alert people to abuse internally at the NSA. Of course, to most people, that seems quite laughable. They know what happens. The Washington Post has an article detailing how the government has destroyed the lives of various whistleblowers from within the intelligence community, who chose to go through “the proper channels” to voice their complaints. It’s not pretty.
One of those discussed is Thomas Drake, whom we’ve written about often. He’s now been reduced to working at an Apple store, because the government has more or less black-balled him, such that he can’t get a job utilizing his actual skills. Bizarrely, he tells the story of Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in charge of the case against him that collapsed completely as it went to court, coming in to shop for a new iPhone:
Last year, he was working when he spotted an unlikely customer: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who came in to check out iPhones.
Drake introduced himself and asked: “Do you know why they have come after me?”
“Yes, I do,” Holder said.
“But do you know the rest of the story?,” he asked.
Holder quickly left with his security detail, Drake said.
They cover others, like Richard Barlow, who blew the whistle on the CIA lying to Congress about whether or not Pakistan could use some F-16s it was about to buy from the US to hold (and potentially launch) nuclear weapons. He went through the proper channels to alert officials of the mistake and three days later he was fired. Even though a GAO report vindicated Barlow and said his statements were reasonable and that he was clearly fired as a retaliatory move, he was unable to get another job in the government saying his “record was smeared.” He now lives out near
Yosemite Yellowstone in a mobile home and refers to himself as “seriously damaged, burned-out intelligence officer” who now suffers from PTSD.
The article has a few more stories like this one. Principled people who blew the whistle, and even when they were later vindicated, it made it impossible to get their jobs back or new jobs (or, in some cases, even to get money owed to them).
And people wonder why Snowden chose the path that he did? Sure, the other countries where he may end up don’t have great track records either, but the US now has a well-established track record of doing serious harm to whistleblowers, especially within the intelligence community.