Another Whistleblower Highlights The Futility Of The 'Proper Channels'
from the shut-up,-they-investigated dept
Yet another whistleblower is detailing their depressing experiences with the “proper channels.” Writing for The Intercept, former CIA imagery analyst Patrick Eddington discusses the attempts the CIA made to prevent information on US soldiers’ exposure to chemical weapons during the Gulf War from being made public.
My own experience in 1995-96 is illustrative. Over a two-year period working with my wife, Robin (who was a CIA detailee to a Senate committee at the time), we discovered that, contrary to the public statements by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell and other senior George H. W. Bush administration officials (including CIA Director John Deutch), American troops had in fact been exposed to chemical agents during and after the 1991 war with Saddam Hussein. While the Senate Banking Committee under then-Chairman Don Riegle, D-Mich., was trying to uncover the truth of this, officials at the Pentagon and CIA were working to bury it.
When Eddington objected to the burial attempts, he was placed under investigation by the CIA. The agency also questioned his wife, asking if Eddington would find his “conscience” more important than his secrecy agreements with the CIA. What the CIA seemed completely unconcerned with was the subject matter it obviously didn’t want anyone to discuss.
The agency didn’t care about helping to find out why hundreds of thousands of American Desert Storm veterans were ill. All it cared about was whether I’d keep my mouth shut about what the secret documents and reports in its databases had to say about the potential or actual chemical exposures to our troops.
With the proper channels in lockdown mode, Eddington went in another direction. He published a book on his whistleblowing experience, but only after his lawsuit forced the agency to declassify documents it hastily reclassified when it became apparent Eddington was going public. Faced with the inevitable, the CIA finally disclosed to the public that it had been burying information on troops’ exposure to chemical weapons during the operations in Kuwait and Iraq.
And while Eddington had to deal with the CIA’s investigation and attempts to bury both him and the info he was trying to alert lawmakers about, those actually involved in the suppression escaped unscathed.
None of the CIA or Pentagon officials who perpetrated the cover-up were fired or prosecuted.
Eddington goes on to note that Bill Binney suffered through the same experience when trying to blow the whistle on NSA surveillance. Binney’s experience at the hands of the proper channels — following an attempt to institute a less intrusive surveillance program — led directly to Snowden’s decision to cut and run after being thwarted in his attempts to have his concerns addressed.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from years of whistleblower prosecutions is that the government truly isn’t interested in listening to blown whistles.
We now live in a country where the committees charged with reining in excessive domestic spying instead too often act as apologists and attack dogs for the agencies they are charged with regulating.