whistleblowers

The Domestic Cold War

Joel Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. Previously he worked in Washington, D.C. in public policy for organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Cato Institute, and the White House Office of Public Liaison. He studied Statesmanship at the undergraduate level and Global Affairs at the postgraduate level.

The battle lines are drawn. The great war between America’s government and her people fast approaches.

No, this isn’t some dystopian near-future science fiction scenario. This is present-day America we’re talking about. There’s a growing hostility between the U.S. government and certain incorrigible freedom-loving citizens, with the live-and-let-lives caught on the side of their more rowdy fellows, despite best efforts to bury their heads in the sand.

But where are all the battles? Where are the troops filling the streets? Where are the tanks rolling across the countryside, steamrolling all dissidents in their path? In waiting, that’s where. This isn’t a traditional armed conflict I’m predicting; at least, not yet. It’s a cold war. Each side is building up its record of hostile actions against the other, all stopping short of the point of no return.

First there’s the war over control of information. The degree to which the U.S government has pursued whistleblowers, leakers, and all those who would enforce transparency is worrisome, almost to the point of making the American people out to be some sort of sworn enemy. Almost. As the Bradley Manning trial showed, they will prudently stop short of making that overt declaration of war.

Benghazi Whistleblowers: Troops Could Have Intervened

We’re learning more about what did and didn’t happened during the attack on the consulate in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four American citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. According to a military special operator who spoke to Fox News, military support could have been on the ground at the consulate before the second attack.

“I know for a fact that C-110 CIF was doing a training exercise in the region of Northern Africa but in Europe. They had the ability to react and respond,” the unidentified special operator turned whistleblower told Fox News. “They would have been there before the second attack. They would have been there at a minimum to provide a quick reaction force that could facilitate their exfil out of the problem situation. Nobody knew how it was going to develop, and you hear a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of advisors say hey, we wouldn’t have sent them there because the security was unknown situation.”

“If it’s an unknown situation, at a minimum you send forces there to facilitate the exfil or medical injuries,” he added. “We could have sent a C-130 to Benghazi to provide medical evacuation for the injured.”

NSA Story Causes Politicians to Break Ranks, Gives Voters Hope

The story of Edward Snowden/NSA data collection is difficult for anyone who understands the need for surveillance as a security measure, but who also abhors the thought of living under a “surveillance state.” Whistleblowing takes great courage but carries the unfortunate side effect of exposing anything that may have been good about the program — which, in this case, is, admittedly, hard to find given the domestic thrust of the NSA’s activities.

But what’s particularly interesting is how the program has not only gotten the average citizen to reexamine what they’ll live with in the name of security, but how it has started to align and divide lawmakers and politicians who must take a stance on behalf of their constituencies and — hopefully — their own consciences.

Bloomberg’s Businessweek offers an interesting piece detailing just how the NSA fiasco has gerrymandered the usually predictable party lines:

While some leading Democrats are reluctant to condemn the dragnet surveillance of Americans’ phone records, the Republican Party has begun to embrace a libertarian shift opposing the spy agency’s broad powers. But the lines are not drawn in the traditional way.

The Republican National Committee and civil libertarians like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have joined liberals like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on one side of the debate — a striking departure from the aggressive national security policies that have defined the Republican Party for generations.

Obama Administration’s war on leaks hurting press freedoms

The government’s prosecution of leakers and whistleblowers has undermined President Barack Obama’s promise of open government and transparency and undermined freedom of the press, according to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The picture painted of the Obama Administration in the report is certainly a damning one.

“In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records,” wrote Leonard Downie, Jr., a former executive editor of the Washington Post, in the report, The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America.

“An ‘Insider Threat Program’ being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues,” he noted. “Six government employees, plus two contractors including Edward Snowden, have been subjects of felony criminal prosecutions since 2009 under the 1917 Espionage Act, accused of leaking classified information to the press—compared with a total of three such prosecutions in all previous U.S. administrations. Still more criminal investigations into leaks are under way.”

CIA suspends employee who refused to sign Benghazi non-disclosure agreement

CIA

A month after CNN reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had gone to great lengths to keep who were working on the ground the night of the Benghazi terrorist attack from talking to the media, agency director John Brennan reportedly cleared survivors to be able to talk to lawmakers and congressional investigators.

But one CIA employee who has refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) on Benghazi has been suspended by the agency, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) via the Washington Free Beacon:

A CIA employee who refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring him from discussing the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has been suspended as a result and forced to hire legal counsel, according to a top House lawmaker.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) revealed at an event on Monday that his office was anonymously informed about the CIA employee, who is purportedly facing an internal backlash after refusing to sign a legal document barring him from publicly or privately discussing events surrounding the Benghazi attack.
[…]
“My office received a call from a man saying that he knew a CIA employee who has retained legal counsel because he has refused to sign an additional NDA regarding the Sept. 11, 2012, events in Benghazi,” Wolf said in Sept. 9 remarks at a panel discussion hosted by Judicial Watch.

Noam Chomsky: Sarah Palin was right about Barack Obama

Noam Chomsky, a prominent leftist and professor at MIT, says that Sarah Palin got it right when she criticized then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 for lacking substance and running on the cheap, meaningless campaign slogan of “hope” and “change.”

“With regard to other issues, [Obama] was, as he himself put it sometimes, a kind of a blank slate, didn’t say anything. There was vague talk about all kind of nice things,” Chomsky, a self-identified socialist, told Democracy Now during a recent interview.

“I don’t usually admire Sarah Palin, but when she was making fun of this ‘hopey-changey’ stuff, she was right,” said the MIT linguistics professor. “There was nothing there.”

Chomsky, praised Occupy Wall Street in the interview and complimented President Obama for far-left appointments he made to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), also said that elections in the United States’ are “public relations extravaganzas” designed to stay away from relevant issues and concerns.

AP chief on “chilling effect” of DOJ crackdown, wants new protections for reporters

AP Chief Gary Pruitt

The Associated Press is pressuring the Justice Department to enact new protections for journalists in the midst of its war on whistleblowers and leakers.

During a speech on Friday at the National Press Club, Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt again explained that the actions taken by the Justice Department to seize phone records of reporters were “so broad, so overreaching and so secretive that it violated the protective zone that the First Amendment provides journalists in the United States.” Pruitt also outlined five recommendations that he hope Attorney General Eric Holder would consider to ensure that this never happens again.

Last month, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had secretly obtained phone records from four of its offices as part of an investigation into a leak of classified information about a foiled terrorist attack that was appeared in an AP story last May. In appearance on Face the Nation soon after the story broke, Pruitt said that the seizure of the media phone records is “unconstitutional.”

House Republican Wants to Prosecute Journalists for Reporting on Leaks

Peter King on CNN

It’s not just the Obama Administration that wants to go after journalists. During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that the the government should prosecute reporters when they publish sensitive information from leakers and whistleblowers.

Cooper and King were discussing the recent leak about the National Security Agency’s broad collection of Americans’ phone records, even if they aren’t suspected of terrorist activity. Glenn Greenwald, a journalist at The Guardian, published information he received from a whistleblower about the secret program. The story renewed debate on the PATRIOT Act and government surveillance.

“[I]f they willing knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken something of this magnitude. I know the issue of leaks, I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation both legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something, which would so severely compromise national security,” King told Cooper. “As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years, a number of reporters who have been prosecuted. So the answer is yes to your question.”

DOJ’s Assault on the Media Just Took Another Turn for the Worse

Barack Milhous Nixon

The Justice Department’s already troubling assault on the media just got weirder. Days after it was reported that the DOJ seized phone records from the Associated Press in an attempt to discover a leak from the administration, it was discovered that James Rosen, a Fox News correspondent, was the target of an investigation into a separate leak.

But the story has taken another turn for the worse. It appears that the DOJ also seized phone records from two White House staffers and five additional Fox News reporters:

Justice Department Targets Fox News Reporter, Puts Free Press At Risk

James Rosen

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”First Amendment

Those words are straightforward. The right to free speech was respected so fervently that the framers of the Constitution saw fit to ensure that it was a constitutionally guaranteed right.

Sadly, that fundamental civil liberty was threatened last week when it was revealed that the Justice Department had subpoenaed phone records of reporters at the Associated Press (AP), an action that the news agency’s president said was “unconstitutional.”

It appears that this scandal is worse than was previously feared. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that James Rosen, Washington correspondent at Fox News, was the target of a Justice Department investigation in 2010.

This is pretty creepy:

When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.


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