Is Thomas Drake, the National Security Agency whistleblower a hero or a criminal? A hero, obviously.
Drake revealed to the Baltimore Sun how how the NSA abandoned a legal and promising data mining program for an intrusive, unconstitutional and ultimately useless one. For telling the public how its rights had been violated and its money wasted, he now faces decades in prison.
Jane Mayer shows how the government strategy is to depict whistleblowing as a form of espionage.
Why are Obama and Holder even pursuing this case? Obama campaigned on ending such abuses, which he would not have known about without whistleblowers like Drake. The cult of the ‘classified’ document is being used to overthrow the US constitution. I would argue that a public servant who sees his boss violate the 4th amendment has a duty to reveal the transgression to the public. That the crime was (predictably) classified by the criminal official is irrelevant and should be trumped by a democratic republic’s need to hold its public servants to account. That was the conclusion of the Supreme Court with regard to the Pentagon Papers.
If Tricky Dick Nixon had tried to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg as a spy for North Vietnam, the justices would have laughed him out of court.
It is a measure of the decline of our rule of law and of our democracy that specious arguments that once would have attracted ridicule are now pursued by the likes of Obama and Holder. And no one even talks about George W. Bush, under whom the NSA abuses began, as ‘tricky’ or unethical even though his deceit and dirty tricks outstripped those of Nixon.
The thing that worries me most is that the government officials who break the law by engaging in illegal surveillance are the ones best able to blackmail judges and politicians and journalists. Part of the story of the gradual destruction of the Bill of Rights, i.e. the Constitution, probably lies hidden in those corrupt shadows.