Saturday, June 9, 2012

A 'War on Whistleblowers'? Let's Hope to Hell NOT!

While it is undoubtedly true that many politicos - especially in high powered offices - might have a problem with 'whistleblowers', they should in fact be thankful this courageous lot exists. For often at great cost to themselves, they have exposed hidden corruption (as with Halliburton and Bechtel during the Bush Jr. yrs) and thereby eliminated dangerous parasites bleeding the treasury dry to pursue to their own agendas. Indeed, a government run program to protect and encourage ordinary citizens as whistleblowers on Medicare fraud has already been going for a number of years. Estimates of the money saved run from $100m to over $250m. Not exactly chump change.

At the same time, it's understandable that the powers- that-be will become more uncomfortable as whistleblowers emerge closer to the levers of power, whether in the State Department, the Pentagon or elsewhere. One of the most famous defense analyst whistleblowers has been Chuck Spinney, who in a 2002 NOW PBS appearance with Bill Moyers, first exposed the corruption in the Pentagon and the fact they have been unable to account for over $1.2 trillion dollars in funding.

This is absolutely an abomination! As Spinney correctly pointed out in that interview, it essentially means the Defense establishment is no longer beholden to the people, the taxpayers, and if this is so - we are no longer living in a democracy.....or for the purists....a Republic.  It is more a banana republic wherein no one is accountable for money used, lost or squandered.

Spinney is a hero, as much as the FBI agent Coleen Rowley who just before 9/11, let it be known how outraged she was after the so-called "20th hijacker" Zaccharias Moussaoui was detained on August 15th, 2001, and agents in her Minneapolis FBI field office immediately sought a criminal warrant to search his belongings - but were prevented from doing so. Management at the FBI dealing with the request threw up numerous obstacles to the agents, and even withheld information from them, including the now-infamous Phoenix Memo written by an agent in Arizona warning of terrorists training in flight schools for a possible upcoming attack. The request was denied and agents were prevented from searching Moussaoui's laptop, which contained information that would have tipped the FBI off to the 9/11 plot.

This sort of shit is why so many Americans have lost all faith and trust in government. That and stonewalling and ridiculing citizens for pursuit of files - say pertaining to the JFK assassination - under the Freedom of Information Act. See, e.g.

All of which sends the unmistakeable signal that: a) government has something to hide, and b) is terrified of citizens finding out. Neither of these bodes well for the future of our Republic, which - even in an age of so-called "terrorism" cannot be allowed to forget the principles that have made us what we are...the nation we are. For, if we are going to go the way of hiding everything, and punishing transparency and efforts to make government work better....we can claim to be little better than China, or Russia.

Yes, the media nabobs often cooperate in this by finding excuses to side with government, whether in releasing more files to do with our recent history or in exposing current corruption that can undermine all the positive capacity for government action. For make no mistake, if filfthy vermin,  parasites and rot are eating away at whatever agency, then it makes ALL government components and departments dysfunctional by virtue of the fact any such infection can spread.

This is why it was disheartening to read David Sirota's latest blog and article that there is an ongoing "war on whistleblowers' and in an administration we all believed to be devoted to change. According to Sirota, in his op-ed appearing in today's Colorado Springs Gazette:

"As former Foreign Service officer Peter Van Buren reports, the federal government is now targeting whistleblowers for recrimination, with "the number of cases (against whistleblowers) suggest(ing) an organized strategy to deprive Americans of knowledge of the more disreputable things that their government does." That's right — rather than celebrating the heroes who expose wrongdoing and then stopping the illegal acts, the government is shooting the messengers in order to let the crimes continue.

If you are an Obama partisan who insists the crackdown is appropriate because your favored politician is in power, take heed of the president's own warning. As he said a few years ago, allowing any executive to ignore the Constitution is problematic because "you never know who is going to be president four years from now."

Of course, there is a logical inconsistency here. If something reported is indeed 'wrong doing', then to simply swat down the messenger is to compound the wrongdoing and hence make it double wrong doing. This is not the way a healthy society or government functions. In the same way a person, striving to be healthy and functional, will do all in his or her power to extract cancers that threaten the whole also must government act to root out internal cancers. If it does not do so, or resists based on specious arguments, then it is as destined to be taken over by the internal cancer as a person is who resists cancer therapy.
As for Sirota's 2nd paragraph, that is indeed true and where the 'bear sits with the buckwheat'. Thus, while I may not have too many severe qualms believing Obama's actions will be responsible under The National Defense Authorization Act (which allows Presidential discretion to militarily detain people - including U.S. citizens - captured in any "battlefield"), it gives me the heebie-jeebies and cold sweats thinking of the NDAA powers under a Mitt Romney, or god forbid, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum! 

Thus, while I welcome Obama's sobriety in his "signing statement" to the NDAA, I feel that the whole law is simply too risky overall to our liberties, under the potential assumption of power by a less than honest public steward. This is indeed, just the type of Constitutional hole that could putatively lead to an American dictatorship of the type Sinclair Lewis wrote of in his memorable novel, 'It Can't Happen Here':

The sanest option then is to bring the NDAA up for review, and if possible eliminate it, under an Executive Order if need be. Even if Obama wins re-election, no one can be sure of the quality of person to follow in his footsteps. A person who may not be a constitutional scholar.

As for the claimed "war on whistleblowers", I sincerely hope that Sirota has exaggerated it, and ...if not, I do hope Obama recalls why we voted for him, and why we do expect that in this new Hope environment, whistle blowers will continue to have their say for the betterment of all. If this isn't the case, then what's the point of it all?

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