The Snowden Effect: From Governmentalized to Privatized & Commoditized

How Safe is Our Information with Billionaire Corporatists & Dollar-Hungry Opportunist Individuals?

Please raise your hand if you are one of many concerned citizens when it comes to our government collecting and keeping your data without a warrant or any justification. Do you see my hand? I know I am a shorty, but it is up there; my hand. I assure you. In fact it has been there for a long time.

Now, please raise your hand if you are a citizen who is highly concerned about your data, personal and public, not only being taken and stored by our government, but also being accessed and stored by other private corporations, private individuals and their foreign lovers and contacts. Can you see my hand? I’m there- standing on my toes with my raised hand. How many other hands do you see; if any? Is yours up there?

Yes. I am livid. I am livid that our government is collecting our communications and information without any warrant or oversight. I am appalled by our government storing all our data in its massive database with zero oversight or accountability. It is frightening; truly. But let me tell you something: right now I am even more appalled and alarmed by individuals obtaining our data, commoditizing it, and handing it over to companies and individuals around the world.

Nine months ago I was one of many who thought we had a new whistleblower who had gone out on a limb to obtain a few documents in order to expose how our government has been violating our Constitution and rights with its illegal surveillance operations. Today, nine months after this individual came out publicly, sporting the title whistleblower, I am watching in horror a far more terrifying and outrageous plot unfolding before my own eyes.

When the story first broke I, among others, assumed that Edward Snowden had taken a few documents to illustrate the unconstitutional abuses and violations committed by the NSA.

Then, in July 2013, Greenwald told Der Spiegel he and Laura Poitras had each received a complete archive from Snowden which totaled 9,000-10,000 documents.

A few weeks later that same Glenn Greenwald told the Brazilian Senate that he possessed up to 20,000 documents.

Fast forward one month, and in its court statement over the temporary detention of David Miranda, the UK government said Miranda was carrying 58,000 documents which took up around 60 gigabytes of disk space.

And now, nine months later, we are told that Snowden is believed to have used web crawlers to access and obtain about 1.7 million documents.

First, the ever-changing story and document number establish Snowden and the involved so-called journalists as dishonest and liars. Oddly enough, no one in the mainstream media is calling them on the constantly changing and contradicting story line.

Second, it illustrates that there is no way these documents were obtained discreetly or with any due diligence. How could anyone suck up 1.7 million documents with a web crawler and claim that the act was performed ethically and with diligence? If the individual’s intention was to illustrate a case of clear and present unconstitutionality and criminality, why go suck up millions of documents indiscriminately? Why not care how many of those documents are on legitimate targets or investigations? Why not be wary of some of the documents containing private citizens’ private information?

Third, it shows a complete lack of responsibility for Snowden to carry with him around the world over one million indiscriminately obtained Top Secret documents. By his own admission Snowden used his own credit card and identity to travel to Hong Kong, and he remained there for almost three weeks while registered in a hotel under his own name, passport ID, and credit card number. What kind of individual would commit such an act while in possession of 1.7 million documents pertaining to Americans’ personal data, U.S. government intelligence, and even other nations’ proprietary information?

Fourth, much of the initial story was given glitzy attention based on the claim that Snowden had obtained these documents with one pure purpose: Making it all public for the public’s benefit and the people’s right to know. However, to date, after nine months into the story, the people have received less than 1% of the obtained documents. 

Now, let’s talk about the entities who have been given these documents (the entire cache):

We know that Glenn Greenwald has been given the entire cache by Snowden. He has shrewdly enriched himself with the cache: from a seven-figure book deal to a movie deal and a new cushy venture with a billionaire boss. To read more about this Click Here . As you can see, having access to documents that purportedly contain our information, other nations’ information, and much information related to many corporations, were commoditized and utilized to obtain financial and career gains.

We know that Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian boyfriend was given access to the entire cache by Edward Snowden as well. To read more about this Click Here

We know that film-maker Laura Poitras was given the Snowden Cache. She too has been rewarded with high-sums and a billionaire-sponsored lucrative career deal for the documents.

We know that other publications such as Washington Post and Guardian have been given a large share of these documents. Speaking of the Washington Post, another billionaire seems to be getting his money’s worth in this deal as well: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

Let’s recap it so far: Billionaire corporatists such as Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Bezos have access to Edward Snowden’s 1.7 million stolen documents. Several mainstream news corporations such as Guardian and the New York Times have their nice-size cache. A few ambitious and dollar-oriented American and foreign individuals have joint ownership of Edward Snowden’s stolen documents.

So let me ask you, it was horrible and scary enough to know that the United States Government was able to obtain and store our data. Please tell me how you feel about the fact that now, along with the U.S. government, billionaire corporatists such as PayPal’s Pierre Omidyar and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and dollar-hungry opportunist individuals such as Glenn Greenwald, Brazilian David Miranda and Laura Poitras, all have our data to do with as they wish?

Please don’t write off the value of Snowden’s cache to billionaire corporatists like Pierre Omidyar. Think about what he could do with all that info. Could he have an advantage over his competitors, considering that the NSA cache contains tons of documents on many major companies? You bet. Could he use some of the stolen data to blackmail his competitors here and abroad? Surely. Could he utilize Snowden’s stolen documents to blackmail and receive favors from the U.S. government? Of course. Now, do you see how $250 million may prove to be a small price to pay for what may gain billions for him? I am sure you do.

The lack of outrage and protest against the privatization and commoditization of the Snowden Cache may in fact pave the way for the government to do the exact same thing itself; directly- without middlemen such as Snowden and sleazy hungry journalists. Let me give you a few examples:

Texas DMV Sells Personal Information to Hundreds Of Companies; Drivers Not Allowed to Opt-Out

Legal Theft: Florida DMV Makes Millions Legally Selling Personal Information

DMV Wants to Market Drivers' Records for Sale

That’s right. Let’s apply what opportunist journalists are doing here to our government. What if the government elects to sell a portion of its questionably obtained information from its citizens to major private corporations like Microsoft or PayPal or Amazon? Would you consider such an act outrageous and illegal? Okay. Then, why is it okay for a thief to obtain 1.7 million documents pertaining to our data, hand over that indiscriminately obtained data to a few greedy opportunists, and have those opportunists sell the data to mega corporations? Maybe this is what Snowden and his opportunist accomplices together with billionaire corporatist sugar daddies paved the way for: To kosher-ize privatization, commoditization and monetization of the people’s data by the government.

How is it that the majority of privacy activists are so alarmed and outraged at the idea of having our government collect and store our personal and business data, yet, these same individuals are not up-in-arms about that same data being commoditized and privatized and monetized by ruthless billionaires and greedy individuals? I don’t get it, do you? Is it a case of willful ignorance? Is it a case of blinded judgment brought on by glitzy publicity campaigns? Or is it a case of not seeing the forest for the trees? You tell me.

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Sibel Edmonds is the Publisher & Editor of Boiling Frogs Post and the author of the Memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy” Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

Thank You NSA, Snowden & the Media for Showing our Super-Ness in Something!

The Entire Snowden NSA Cache Exposed Once and for All

Part II: David Miranda’s Detainment: The Calico Kitten in Wag-The-Dog?

Part I: The Doomsday Insurance Cache That Was, and Then Never Was

Dear Mr. Snowden, It’s Time to Come Out & Take a Stand Publicly as to Your Intentions

Establishment-Made Heroes, Blind Seekers of Saviors & Suckers

Green-Light for Greenwald: Government Duplicity or Government Duality?

Greenwald-Omidyar Venture: Blurring Lines Between Being A Source & Being A Journalist

Greenwald Goes on Record: “I Don’t Doubt PayPal Cooperates with NSA!”

BFP Report- Omidyar’s PayPal Corporation Said To Be Implicated in Withheld NSA Documents

Checkbook Journalism & Leaking to the Highest Bidder

Thank You NSA, Snowden & the Media for Showing our Super-Ness in Something!

The Most Innovative Plot Ever to Put us Back on the Map as the Super-est

I ask people to name the agency responsible for collecting all communication Intel in China, and they draw a blank. I quiz people on the Russian facility specifically in charge of communication data gathering (not the main FSB), and I draw more blanks. However, I suspect that today if you were to ask the entire adult population of the planet earth to name the intelligence facility in the United States where the entire US and world communication data is gathered you would receive a quick and accurate answer: NSA. Is this really ‘bad’ for the US image? Is this truly bad for the NSA?

Everyone agrees that this is the information age. Everyone will tell you that information is power today. It is uniformly agreed that those with the power to collect the most information are those with the most power. All true. Thus, the Super Global Power is the one with the best capability to collect the most information. And the world unanimously recognizes the United States of America as the Super-est Global Power with the most ominous agency-facility capable of collecting everyone’s every data every minute of every hour. We have the US government, Edward Snowden, and the mainstream media to thank for this.

Image is everything. It’s perception- not the real facts- that matter. Once upon a time it was the Arms Race. We went through decades of muscle flexing: who had the biggest and most powerful bombs, who had the most ominous delivery system for the biggest and most powerful bombs, who had the fastest and greatest rockets to reach the moon-Mars or hell, and who had the highest number of bases. Of course we, the Americans, aced every one of those criteria. Didn’t we? Even with the Missile Gap trickery and later revelations and all; we flexed our steroid-filled muscles everywhere. It really didn’t matter how many billions of people around the world actually hated us. We burned and murdered millions of people in Vietnam, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Laos and Cambodia. Ugly? Yes. But didn’t it establish our superiority when it came to nuclear weapons capabilities, chemical weapons mastery, and all the state-of-the-art machinery to deliver our killing agents and murder in mass? There: ugly or not, hated or not, we flexed our super-power muscles. We became known as a superpower-the only thing that mattered.

Who wouldn’t want to be perceived as the most powerful and ominous even if butt ugly? China does. Russia does. Iran does. Pakistan does… and we do. Please don’t let anyone fool you: when we talk about our world image we don’t give a damn about looking good or being perceived as good. No. It is about being the most powerful, being the most ominous when it comes to using power. Period. Think of our power footprint in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya. Think about our power shown through our black sites, Bagram, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Powerful, yes. Ominous yes. Good? Are you kidding me? But who cares!

As a nation so addicted to being known and perceived as a superpower, when we see ourselves in situations like this we feel devastated:

In 15 of 22 nations surveyed, the balance of opinion is that China either will replace or already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower. This view is especially widespread in Western Europe, where at least six-in-ten people in France (72%), Spain (67%), Britain (65%) and Germany (61%) see China overtaking the U.S.

As a nation who has had the privilege of being perceived as the most ominous, when we face situations like this we are heartbroken:

For the first time in surveys dating back nearly 40 years, a majority (53%) says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago. The share saying the U.S. is less powerful has increased 12 points since 2009 and has more than doubled – from just 20% – since 2004.

So what if we are still the world’s super-est power when it comes to WMD and related military machinery. Obviously that doesn’t count nearly as much today in the eyes of the world. Our economy has been way too screwed up to even be considered as a vehicle to establish super-ness. Thus, we have to find something that is considered real super in this age and time: the Information Age & Information Warfare Era. So bring in and pump some steroids into some information muscle, flex it big time, and make sure it is enormously publicized: Thank you NSA, Edward Snowden and the Government PR media.

Those damn Chinese may have the economy on their side, but let’s flex our steroid-filled NSA muscles and show those dudes how pathetic they are when it comes to sucking information: Snowden: US Spies On China’s Universities and Mobile Firms  I tell you, even the NSA is directly pumping up Snowden’s narrative on how we put the Chinese under our surveillance microscope: NSA fears Snowden saw details of China spying

Look at the darn Chinese scrambling to protect themselves from our mighty info sucking monster-the NSA: Can China Protect Itself from NSA Spying?

How about those awful Russians, ey? Let’s show them too: Sweden has been spying on Russian leaders for the NSA, Snowden documents show That’s right. They better watch out. We are vacuuming up all their information: NSA leak reveals: US and Britain spied on Russians and other countries Hey, mate, look how desperate they are in the face of our mighty NSA sucker-uppers: Russia’s solution to NSA spying? Typewriters!!!

Even those pest-y little high-tech Japanese are getting nervous, seeing how they have lost their techie edge: Japan Must Safeguard Data from 'Superpower in Decline' Decline or not, who cares! It attaches that musical and beautiful adjective back to our nation’s name: Superpower.

Haven’t government researchers such as RAND been pounding our government for years on pumping and flexing its information gathering muscles?  Information is an instrument of national and global power. As such, control over its use, its protection, and its manipulation, are national and global security issues. Well, here we are, doing exactly that: showing our people and the entire world that we are capable of sucking every single piece of information from every person in every nation every single second of every single hour of every single day.

Thank you NSA, Edward Snowden and the government PR machine. Thank you for restoring our superpower status here at home and abroad. Thank you for showing our super-ness in something: Snooping & Surveillance of everyone everywhere all the time. Thank you for expanding and putting back the fear of government into our people’s psyche. Thank you for putting the weariness and fear of our mightiness back into the world. Thank you for plotting and executing one of the most innovative plots ever to put us back on the map as a super-est power in something; no matter how stinky or ugly. Thank you NSA, Snowden and the mainstream media. Thank you all.

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Sibel Edmonds is the Publisher & Editor of Boiling Frogs Post and the author of the Memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy” Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

The Entire Snowden NSA Cache Exposed Once and for All

Part II: David Miranda’s Detainment: The Calico Kitten in Wag-The-Dog?

Part I: The Doomsday Insurance Cache That Was, and Then Never Was

Dear Mr. Snowden, It’s Time to Come Out & Take a Stand Publicly as to Your Intentions

Establishment-Made Heroes, Blind Seekers of Saviors & Suckers

Green-Light for Greenwald: Government Duplicity or Government Duality?

Greenwald-Omidyar Venture: Blurring Lines Between Being A Source & Being A Journalist

Greenwald Goes on Record: “I Don’t Doubt PayPal Cooperates with NSA!”

BFP Report- Omidyar’s PayPal Corporation Said To Be Implicated in Withheld NSA Documents

Checkbook Journalism & Leaking to the Highest Bidder

The Entire Snowden NSA Cache Exposed Once and for All

The Hidden Code in the Snowden-Greenwald Mockery

I just finished reading an article titled Forget Metadata … The NSA Is Spying on EVERYTHING . It is a good article, and it is true. For the last nine months we have been reading one headline after another on Edward Snowden’s documents exposing NSA from A to Z. 99% of these documents have not been published. No matter. 100% of the facts have been known for almost a decade - details not withstanding and do not matter. Do you really need headline after headline churning out some meaningless and useless information? We have it for you: All exposés, one hundred percent, and in one place. Here it is, starting with NSA spying on world leaders:

NSA spies on Germany’s Merkel. NSA spies on France’s Hollande. I tell you what: everyone who has ever worked for FBI counterintelligence and or CIA and or NSA could tell you: The United States has been spying on all world leaders and state heads for many decades. Period. Now, help yourself and add to the sensationalized headlines: NSA spies on Turkey’s Erdogan. NSA spies on Russia’s Putin. NSA spies on Bolivia’s Morales. Basically, fill in ‘NSA spies on …’ with every world leader and political figure. There. Now you have 11.5% of Snowden-Greenwald’s fluffily sensationalized documents.

Another set of sensationalized no-news news headlines deals with NSA engaging in Industrial espionage: Edward Snowden Claims NSA Engages In Industrial Espionage In New Interview

I tell you what: Snowden has exposed a practice that is as old as the Roman Empire. Industrial espionage has been utilized and performed by every empire and every government for thousands of years. To cover another 8.3% of Edward Snowden documents you can list US industrial espionage by target countries: NSA spies on China’s industry. NSA spies on Russian industry. NSA spies on … Just fill in the dots, and you now have an additional 8% of Snowden’s so-called explosive documents.

Snowden has exposed computer hardware companies on the NSA’s partners list as well:  NSA intercepts laptop deliveries to install spyware . The companies include Cisco, Dell, Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, but also international companies such as Samsung andHuawei. To find out about other so-far-not-disclosed documents, go grab a list of all major computer hardware companies and list them: Apple, HP, Lenovo, … just fill in the dots, and you have it. I believe this should take care of 6.1% of so far undisclosed documents.

Snowden’s major revelations, dripping slowly, one after another, point to NSA monitoring and spying on people via social networks: NSA spies via Facebook. NSA spies on Google. Time to publicize another 14.9% of Snowden’s cache: NSA spies on Yahoo. NSA spies on Twitter. NSA spies on … Just fill in the dots by including all the major social networking sites and forums. Done.

Snowden has also exposed what we have known for a long time: NSA spies on News organizations! Wow! NSA Spied On Al Jazeera Communications . Here is a list of equally explosive news organizations NSA is spying on: New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times … Please fill in the dots with every single news organization in the U.S. and the world.

Snowden documents and leaks include NSA’s spying on international organizations such as the United Nations. Aren’t you shocked (Not)? Has anyone ever doubted the fact that the U.S. has been monitoring all major international organizations? Let me list a few: HRW, Amnesty, Committee to Protect Journalists … Please don’t wait for Snowden and his handlers to put out this old news and make millions of dollars. Just go ahead and list every single international organization. And you have it.

Lately, Snowden seems to have reached the end of his major networking and computer name dropping list. Seriously. He is now leaking NSA’s nonstop spying on game applications. I kid you not. Here it is: Angry Birds' used for NSA, British spying efforts. Other similar game and software companies will follow. I’ll save you the suspense: NSA is spying on Sesame Street software. NSA is spying on Mickey Mouse software. NSA is spying on Woody Woodpecker games and software. NSA is spying on Pink Panther applications. NSA is spying on … just fill in the dots, and you’ve got it.

What else could be made to sound juicy and outrageous? It is possible that NSA has contracts with commode manufacturers to have them install mini tracking microchips to track your pooping pattern. NSA is very interested in our bowel movements. Bowel movements can tell a lot about a person. Once they have our pooping pattern you never know how they may use it. I kid you not. Don’t write it off. Your poop matters-to the NSA.

Since 2004, through several honorable whistleblowers, the NSA’s extensive and warrantless spying has been known to us. Period. Since my grandmother’s era, not only the NSA, but also the FBI and the CIA have been monitoring world leaders, including their diplomatic figures in the U.S. and elsewhere. Since the Roman Empire nations have been engaged in Industrial-Commerce Espionage and Spying. Didn’t Katharine Gunn expose spying on the United Nations in 2003? Surely she did. No worries, Snowden wants all credit for her work. Didn’t NSA’s Russell Tice sacrifice his career to inform us of NSA’s massive illegal spying in 2004-2005? Of course, he did. But Snowden wants all the credit for that as well. Didn’t William Binney expose NSA’s warrantless spying of Americans in 2002? Aha. So what, Snowden wants to make it not so: he wants that credit as well. How about Mark Klein of AT&T exposing the corporate-NSA collusions on illegal spying in 2006? Mark, who? Snowden doesn’t know such a man exists.

Let’s go back to my first paragraph in this commentary. Now we all know: NSA spies on everyone via every piece of hardware, every bit of software, every network, every ISP, every news outlet, every game, every cartoon, possibly through every poop hole. The hidden code in the Snowden-Greenwald Mockery appears to be one objective; one message: Be Afraid, people, be very Afraid. You are watched every second of every minute, and everywhere. You live in a Panopticon State, so watch out (all the time) and behave accordingly. Oh, also, give us your money.

Okay people,  many of you have known the facts about the out-of-control US intel agencies for years. Please don’t let a Mega Charlatan make billions of dollars by suckering you into purchasing what you already have. Please don’t allow a few Mid-Level Charlatans to make millions of dollars by misleading and misdirecting you. Shoo the Lower-Level Charlatans like you’d shoo flies. Charlatans will capitalize on anything, and turn anything into a commodity (Including snake oil); only if you let them. Let’s not let them.

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Sibel Edmonds is the Publisher & Editor of Boiling Frogs Post and the author of the Memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy” Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

Part II: David Miranda’s Detainment: The Calico Kitten in Wag-The-Dog?

Part I: The Doomsday Insurance Cache That Was, and Then Never Was

Dear Mr. Snowden, It’s Time to Come Out & Take a Stand Publicly as to Your Intentions

Establishment-Made Heroes, Blind Seekers of Saviors & Suckers

Green-Light for Greenwald: Government Duplicity or Government Duality?

Greenwald-Omidyar Venture: Blurring Lines Between Being A Source & Being A Journalist

Greenwald Goes on Record: “I Don’t Doubt PayPal Cooperates with NSA!”

BFP Report- Omidyar’s PayPal Corporation Said To Be Implicated in Withheld NSA Documents

Checkbook Journalism & Leaking to the Highest Bidder

The Real Crisis Is Not the Government Shutdown

At This Time, Collapse Seems the Most Likely Forecast

The inability of the media and politicians to focus on the real issues never ceases to amaze.

The real crisis is not the “debt ceiling crisis.” The government shutdown is merely a result of the Republicans using the debt limit ceiling to attempt to block the implementation of Obamacare. If the shutdown persists and becomes a problem, Obama has enough power under the various “war on terror” rulings to declare a national emergency and raise the debt ceiling by executive order. An executive branch that has the power to inter citizens indefinitely and to murder them without due process of law, can certainly set aside a ceiling on debt that jeopardizes the government. [Read more...]

Obamacare Is Another Private Sector Rip-Off of Americans

The Private Sector Allied with Government is a Second IRS

The government of the “world’s only superpower,” the “exceptional,” the “indispensable” country, claims to know what is best for Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, China, indeed for the entire world. However, the “indispensable” country cannot even govern itself, much less the world over which the “superpower” desires hegemony. The government of the “world’s only superpower” has shut itself down.

The government has shut itself down, because it cannot deal with the budget deficit and mounting public debt caused by twelve years of wars, by financial deregulation that allows “banks too big to fail” to loot the taxpayers, and by the loss of jobs, GDP, and tax base that jobs offshoring forced by Wall Street caused. [Read more...]

The Oath to Defend the Constitution vs. the Forced Pledge to Protect Government Secrecy

“Which of the applicable laws has priority?”

By Linda Lewis

oath In the debate on reducing the national debt, members of Congress have focused on two options--tax increases and entitlement cuts---both considered unhelpful to restarting a stalled economy.  Congress seemingly has forgotten that it has another option for reducing the debt: eliminating waste, fraud and corruption in government programs. Perhaps, Congress knows that the success of such a plan would correspond with the effectiveness of whistleblower protections—protections it has been reluctant to provide to the thousands of whistleblowers who hold security clearances.

Insiders are critical to identifying government waste, particularly in agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, where much of the information is classified and not available for public review.  But, insiders are vulnerable to retaliation from managers embarrassed by their disclosures. The Obama administration has been particularly aggressive toward whistleblowers, launching criminal prosecutions against several of them.

Most Americans would be surprised to know that thousands of federal workers with ordinary jobs--food safety, for example--are required to have security clearances even if they may never handle a classified document.  Agencies pay dearly for the necessary background investigations. But, they just can’t seem to pass up the opportunity to give themselves an end run around civil service laws. Steve Kohn, of the National Whistleblowers Center, writes:

A 1989 law was supposed to protect federal employees who expose fraud and misconduct from retaliation. But over the years, these protections have been completely undermined. One loophole gives the government the absolute right to strip employees of their security clearances and fire them, without judicial review. Another bars employees of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency from any coverage under the law. And Congress has barred national security whistle-blowers who are fired for exposing wrongdoing from obtaining protection in federal court.

Knowing that they are vulnerable to retaliation, few federal employees are inclined to report wrongdoing.  Nevertheless, they are required to report wrongdoing.

Every employee takes an oath or affirmation, required by Article VI of the U.S. Constitution to “support the Constitution.” Since 1884, employees have taken this   expanded version of the oath, described in the U.S. Code (Title 5, Chapter 33).

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Incredibly, through court decisions and Congressional foot-dragging, civil servants tasked with defending the Constitution are forced to do so with an abridged set of Constitutional protections, particularly with regard to free speech and due process—essential elements for holding a government accountable.

Civilian federal employees also must adhere to the federal code of ethics (Executive Order 12674, as amended).  It states, in part:

Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.”

The code also directs that employees “shall protect and conserve Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.”  This is important because agencies tend to treat classified information as government property, although it’s more accurate to say that a representative government holds information in trust for its citizens.

TopSecSometimes, classified information contains evidence of waste, fraud or corruption, documents abuses of human rights, or it exposes negligent handling of national security.  In such cases, classifying the information was illegal. Executive Order 13526 forbids classifying information to hide violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error or to avoid embarrassing officials.

An employee who encounters classified evidence of wrongdoing therefore is compelled to ask, “Which of the applicable laws has priority?”  Agencies provide little or no guidance to employees for dealing with the moral hazard dumped in their laps. Think of it as a ticking black box with protruding wires in several colors.  Does one pull the blue wire, the yellow or the red? Pull the wrong one and your career explodes.  [Read more...]

New York Times’ Exposé: Imam Gulen’s Charter Schools

Is the Media Catching Up with the Turkish Imam’s US Operations?

gulenFor the last two years I have been pounding on Imam Fethullah Gulen’s web of organizations and his charter schools empire in the US. For years I have been marveling about the consistent media blackout on the Turkish Imam Fethullah Gulen’s past and present nefarious activities and highly suspicious partnerships with various US government agencies and elected officials. And of course for almost two years I have been writing and discussing Gulen with you over here at Boiling Frogs Post. Now the New York Times appears to be catching up; at least with a fraction of this notorious Imam’s multi billion dollar network of organizations and businesses. Yesterday, the Times ran a fairly detailed and long exposé on Gulen’s dubious and highly secretive penetration of US school systems via his rapidly growing charter school operations; let’s start with the attention grabbing intro:

TDM Contracting was only a month old when it won its first job, an $8.2 million contract to build the Harmony School of Innovation, a publicly financed charter school that opened last fall in San Antonio. It was one of six big charter school contracts TDM and another upstart company have shared since January 2009, a total of $50 million in construction business. Other companies scrambling for work in a poor economy wondered: How had they qualified for such big jobs so fast?

The secret lay in the meteoric rise and financial clout of the Cosmos Foundation, a charter school operator founded a decade ago by a group of professors and businessmen from Turkey. Operating under the name Harmony Schools, Cosmos has moved quickly to become the largest charter school operator in Texas, with 33 schools receiving more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds.

Some of the schools’ operators and founders, and many of their suppliers, are followers of Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic Turkish preacher of a moderate brand of Islam whose devotees have built a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement in his name. Gulen followers have been involved in starting similar schools around the country — there are about 120 in all, mostly in urban centers in 25 states, one of the largest collections of charter schools in America.

And this is what the paper says it is attempting to examine:

But an examination by The New York Times of the Harmony Schools in Texas casts light on a different area: the way they spend public money. And it raises questions about whether, ultimately, the schools are using taxpayer dollars to benefit the Gulen movement — by giving business to Gulen followers, or through financial arrangements with local foundations that promote Gulen teachings and Turkish culture.

I suggest you visit the site and read the entire article. It is definitely worth reading. You may also want to read a few select pieces from BFP on Gulen:

Did You Know: The King of Madrasas Now Operates over 100 Charter Schools in US?

Turkish Intel Chief Exposes CIA Operations via Islamic Group in Central Asia

Additional Omitted Points in CIA-Gulen Coverage & A Note From ‘The Insider’

The Sanitized Gulen Coverage Continues

And here are some appetite inducing excerpts from the Times’ article [All Emphasis Mine]: [Read more...]

Podcast Show #43

The Boiling Frogs Presents Stephen Kohn

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Stephen Kohn joins us to discuss his book The Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing what’s Right and Protecting Yourself. He explains whistleblowing as a civil liberties and a First Amendment issue, the role of whistleblowers as enablers of congressional oversight, and discusses the legal and political implications involved in whistleblowing. Mr. Kohn presents us with astounding statistics and reports illustrating how whistleblowing is far more effective than regulatory authorities, and how contributions by corporate whistleblowers uncover far more fraud and corruption within their companies than all the government police and regulatory authorities combined. Stephen Kohn talks about the differences and the existing double standards between corporate and government whistleblowers, the escalation of retaliation against national security whistleblowers under the Obama administration, the travesty of justice and constitutional violations in the Bradley Manning Case, upcoming legislation in Congress to further penalize whistleblowers, and more!

stevekohnStephen M. Kohn is the Executive Director of National Whistleblowers Center, one of the nation’s foremost experts in whistleblower protection law, and the author of The Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What's Right and Protecting Yourself, and the first legal treatise on whistleblowing, Protecting Environmental and Nuclear Whistleblowers: A Litigation Manual. Since 1984, Mr. Kohn has successfully represented whistleblowers in numerous cases (both at trial and on appeal), has testified in Congress on behalf of whistleblower reforms, and has worked directly with the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee on drafting the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate whistleblower law. Mr. Kohn has a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law; an M.A. in Political Science from Brown University; and a B.S. in Social Education from Boston University. In addition to his books on whistleblower law, Mr. Kohn is the author of Jailed for Peace and American Political Prisoners.

Here is our guest Stephen Kohn unplugged!

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