Obama's War on Whistle-Blowers

The Atlantic
Obama's War on Whistle-Blowers
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Obama's War on Whistle-Blowers

The Justice Department's subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen Monday was the latest sign of how aggressive the Obama administration is being in its campaign against government whistle-blowers. The purpose of Risen's subpoena is to force him to testify that Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent, gave him confidential information about the CIA's efforts to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. The extent to which the administration is prosecuting leakers has troubled those who see leakers as speakers of truth to power. "In President Obama’s 26 months in office, civilian and military prosecutors have charged five people in cases involving leaking information, more than all previous presidents combined," reports the Times. Here's a list of prominent leakers with various agendas currently under pressure from the government.

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Thomas Drake A former senior executive at the National Security Agency, Drake is being charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 for leaking information to a Baltimore Sun reporter. In the aftermath of 9/11, Drake believed the agency was wasting its resources on a bloated surveillance system called Trailblazer, the NSA's largest project, instead of a cheaper, more efficient system called "Thin Thread." If the Thin Thread had been deployed, Drake told 60 Minutes the government could've prevented 9/11. Now, he could spend 35 years in prison for airing his grievances to the Sun. For more on Sterling, watch this segment from 60 Minutes or check out this piece in The New Yorker.

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Jeffrey Sterling A former CIA officer, Sterling was indicted in December for sharing information with an unnamed journalist about a secret operation to undermine unnamed countries' nuclear weapons programs. It's become clear that the journalist is James Risen. Though the information shared with him was not published by The New York Times (the government told the newspaper it could jeopardize national security) it was published in Risen's book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, reports The New York Times.

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Bradley Manning A former military analyst, Manning is suspected of leaking the massive trove of classified government documents to WikiLeaks. The cache is thought to include the 250,000 State Department cables, the footage of a July 2007 Baghdad airstrike and Iraq and Afghanistan war documents. In April he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, a move reportedly linked to his rough treatment in solitary confinement. In April it was announced that Manning would no longer have to live in solitary confinement and could eat in the dining room with other inmates at the Kansas facility.

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Shamai Leibowitz A former translator for the FBI, Leibowitz was sentenced for 20 months in prison for leaking classified documents to a blogger. It's not clear what information Leibowitz shared. According to court documents examined by The Washington Post, the information concerned "communication intelligence activities" and constituted a betrayal of the FBI. What he shared was apparently so top secret, not even the sentencing judge was told what he divulged. Leibowitz eventually plead guilty to his charges. "“This was a one-time mistake that happened to me when I worked at the FBI and saw things that I considered a violation of the law,” he said.

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