The gulf that exists between the Obama of the campaign trail and Obama’s actions since taking office has been glaringly obvious since the very beginning of his presidency, From his promise to close Guantanamo to his promise not to employ lobbyists to his promise to increase governmental transparency, there have been no shortage of examples of Obama’s duplicity. Until recently, however, his arch defenders have merely covered their eyes and pretended not to see these glaring hypocrisies, decrying his opponents as racist and Obama as a well-meaning president who has been hampered by Republican interference.
In the last few weeks, however, something has fundamentally changed in the relationship between the President and his supporters. Even some of the staunchest Obama allies have come out in recent weeks to denounce the manner in which his administration is helping to shred the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights once and for all.
Again, this seeming change in Obama’s position from candidacy to presidency comes as no surprise who have been evaluating his actions honestly over the past few years, but now even his biggest supporters are able to see through the hope and change rhetoric at the unpleasant reality underneath. One of the clearest and most remarkable signs that Obama was not what he claimed to be has always been the war on whistleblowers his administration has been waging since the moment he took office. This war, unprecedented in scale or scope in the history of the United States, has been waged quietly for years, apparently out of sight of the fawning media and Obama-supporting Democrats.
Famously, Obama’s administration is engaged in more prosecutions of whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous Presidents combined. Specifically, Obama’s DOJ has targeted NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on a billion dollar boondoggle within the agency, Shamai Leibowitz, an FBI translator who tried to warn of the consequences of a disastrous Israeli strike on Iran, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, alleged to have leaked information about North Korea to Fox News, Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who has been held for over three years, one year of which was spent in de facto solitary confinement, for diplomatic cables and war logs to Wikileaks, Jeffrey Sterling, the CIA agent who allegedly leaked sensitive information to the New York Times about a botched American operation against the Iranian nuclear program, and
The hypocrisy and double standards in these cases is striking. Kim is effectively being charged for doing what dozens of White House and congressional sources do every day under conditions of anonymity: leak information to the press about supposedly classified information. When the government approves of such leaks, as in the tip-offs to the New York Times about the Presidents’ kill list or the US creation of Stuxnet, this is perfectly allowable. When the leaked information gives the administration a black eye, the alleged leaker is selectively prosecuted.
The hypocrisy is even more blatant in the case of Kiriakou. He is currently serving a 30 month prison sentence for blowing the whistle on the illegal CIA waterboarding torture program, while CIA compatriot Jose Rodriguez, who wrote a book bragging about his role in the waterboarding, is enjoying his retirement from service after having served as Director of the National Clandestine Service. The law that Kiriakou was eventually convicted of breaking, one barring the revelation of the identity of covert operatives, is the same one that signally was not used to prosecute Dick Cheney when his office leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame in 2003.
Now, details of a new front in the ever-expanding war on whistleblowers are beginning to emerge. Details that, ironically enough, are surfacing because of a whistleblower leak.
By now, the evidence is undeniable and incontrovertible: there is a concerted campaign to suppress information that exposes government fraud, corruption or abuse. Because of this we are seeing an unprecedented movement rising up in opposition to this draconian 21st century police state. Centred around the current NSA scandal, this movement is seeking, amongst other things, to lodge a petition with the White House to have Edward Snowden pardoned for his actions in exposing the extent of the illegal NSA spying program.
But as Sibel Edmonds forcefully argued in her recent appearance on The Corbett Report, this type of “help” is not only misguided, but actually offensive to the whistleblowers it is designed to benefit.
Exactly as Edmonds argues, the long-term solution to the problem we are facing cannot possibly come from people petitioning for the very criminals who are breaking the law to grant their pardon from on high, thus legitimizing the very criminal system that the people are supposed to be protesting. The idea that the criminals can “pardon” the whistleblowers is an insult to every decent American, and indeed people around the world, who are outraged by and fed up with the rampant criminality of their own government.
Precisely as Edmonds indicates the ultimate solution is not going to come from Washington, but from the people. Unless the people can be motivated en masse to engage the system head on, not to petition it on bended knee to please stop violating the law, but to actively dismantle the entire “national security” smokescreen that the criminals have drawn around themselves, then nothing will ever fundamentally change. Nothing short of the repeal of the National Security Act of 1947 and the dismantling of the intelligence agencies that have been set up in its name will even begin to touch the shadow government that has been steadily usurping power for the last 70 years, and such an idea is truly unthinkable if it is left to the hands of the Washington beltway politicians and journalists to direct the national conversation.
Taking a cue from the people who are beginning to rise up in Turkey, Brazil, Bulgaria and elsewhere, the people of the United States have a choice to make: begin the active campaign of civil disobedience that will start to turn the tide of this Orwellian police state, or suffer the consequences. Perhaps the first indicator of whether or not this movement will ever begin in earnest will be seen this July 4th, when people decide whether they are willing to join the Restore The 4th rallies to meet and engage with likeminded activists, or whether they are content to eat hotdogs, set off fireworks, and celebrate the complete obliteration of whatever was left of the Bill of Rights.