When It Comes To Whistleblowers Obama Worse Than Nixon & Far Worse Than Bush

ObamaThe New Yorker features a lengthy story on NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake who is scheduled to appear in court next month where he will face a ten-count indictment:

According to a ten-count indictment delivered against him in April, 2010, Drake violated the Espionage Act—the 1917 statute that was used to convict Aldrich Ames, the C.I.A. officer who, in the eighties and nineties, sold U.S. intelligence to the K.G.B., enabling the Kremlin to assassinate informants. In 2007, the indictment says, Drake willfully retained top-secret defense documents that he had sworn an oath to protect, sneaking them out of the intelligence agency’s headquarters, at Fort Meade, Maryland, and taking them home, for the purpose of “unauthorized disclosure.” The aim of this scheme, the indictment says, was to leak government secrets to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who is identifiable as Siobhan Gorman, of the Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote a prize-winning series of articles for the Sun about financial waste, bureaucratic dysfunction, and dubious legal practices in N.S.A. counterterrorism programs

Obama, prior to his election, during his ‘change’ campaign, had pledged his support for protecting national security whistleblowers, and had done so on record. As with the rest of his promises it didn’t take him long to switch positions on this front. In fact, he has broken the record among all US presidents, one that puts him in US history as the worst president when it comes to whistleblowers, truth-telling and transparency. Think Bradley Manning. Think Jeffrey Sterling. Think James Risen. Think Pentagon’s Fahrenheit 451 revisited- burning Lt Col Anthony Shaffer’s books. Think the Grand Jury on Wikileaks. And of course, think Thomas Drake:

When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as “often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.” But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. Including the Drake case, it has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. The Drake case is one of two that Obama’s Justice Department has carried over from the Bush years.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institute, who, in his book “Necessary Secrets” (2010), argues for more stringent protection of classified information, says, “Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon.”

If you ever come across a cool-aid drinking vote waster who argues against Obama being far worse than his predecessor when it comes to whistleblowing, truth-telling and transparency, please send him or her my way. I believe what I went through as a whistleblower for seven years under the Bush presidency gives me unarguable moral authority. As the most gagged woman in the history of this nation who has received two separate state secrets privilege invocations, whose right to due process via the judiciary branch has been taken away, whose case has put the United States Congress under a gag order, who has been subjected to torturous polygraph tests and having her home computer confiscated …Well, you see what I mean by my moral authority, and with that I am saying it again firmly: Obama has been far worse than Bush in cases of government whistleblowers- truth-tellers exposing government waste, fraud, abuse and criminality.

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  1. Bill Bergman says:

    The constitutional issues associated with that 2004 retroactive classification you link to, making Congress subject to executive branch directives on what is or isn’t open information, have got to be interesting.

  2. @Bill: At least during Nixon we had so-so federal courts; today we don’t even have that much…And who is there to put this evil man in his place & rule on constitutionality? Obama is the worst president in the history of this country when it comes to gov whistleblowers: freedom of speech, transparency, truth-telling …The worst! I tell you what, if I’d done what I did during Obama admin, now I’d be sitting in jail.

  3. Bill Bergman says:

    A great resource for some historical perspective on the Obama administration’s application of the Espionage Act is a book by Geoffrey Stone, titled “Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism”. He’s got a lot of stuff in there on the 1917 or so period. Perhaps an unfinished book, or in need of a sequel?

  4. theepitbull says:

    You know the sad thing is that like other’s before him, Mr. Obama has such a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to do good for not only our country, but, our world 🙁

    But, like other’s before him, once they are elected they get “Washingtonized” and develop a severe case of amneisa; just another smuckaroo wearing a suit much like our Senate/Congress (.)



  5. j kanarcho says:

    Obama made several grandiose promises in his bid to become POTUS. His speaking style swooned many a voter into buying the sales pitch. That he has taken the worst of Bush II and essentially put it on steroids is more than disturbing.

    In the case referenced above, and for all those who have felt the power of the State brought to bear against them, this is sickening. In your heart, you know that you know that you know what you are doing is right. Your life is turned upside down – things you have worked for – things you believe in suddenly are blown out of the water by what is happening to you. What this does on a human level cannot be fully grasped unless you live it. Lives are being destroyed without a second thought – this is despicable and cowardly.

    Trust and power is being abused in order to silence those who would hold them accountable to the basic principles of a free and just society.

  6. I don’t know that Obama got “Washingtonized” as much as all his blind supporters were “Washingtonized” in the sense that they fell for the age-old, lying politician trick, mindlessly believing Obama’s phony promises and lofty rhetoric.

    Some think he was co-opted by the MIC, Wall St., the police state sociopaths, etc., after he got to Washington. Given his shady background with the likes of Rezko, Blago, and other Chicago filth, I think he was willing to opportunistically prostitute himself to the establishment from day one.

  7. SanderO says:

    Obama has revealed himself to be a world class prevaricator. Was he always a fake or was he pressured to change his tune… was that the change we could believe in… Obama changing his tune to dance to the beat of the DOD and MIC drums?

    The Bin Laden Kill bit was so cool…. big big story and not a shred of legal standard evidence to prove a thing about the story… and Obama felt no need to either.

    I hate to quote Regan, but….. Trust but verify. And it’s getting hard to even trust…and impossible to verify.

    Whistle blowing only works if the government is going to completely stand behind the whistle blowers. But they don’t because so many of them are blowing the whistle ON the government and its wrong doing. You don’t expect them to mea culpa mea culpa maxima mea cupla do you?

    Our beloved Sibel apparently naively thought that whistle blowers get support from the gov. It seems they should… they “say they do”…but when push comes to shove it’s always about covering up and protecting the wrong doers and victimizing the whistle blower. Lovely.

    I suppose the good news is that the USA is descending pretty fast now and there won’t be much to fight about and certainly no money to fight over. Will we even make it to the ominous foreboding 12/12? At the rate we are going now it looks that that prediction is going to come true.

    How cool a black man at the helm when the ship goes down… Will there be a racist backlash as well as anarchy post crash of the USS USA?

  8. Here’s irony for you. Some whistleblower leakes documents that prove that Obama’s lying about Bin Laden being killed. The govt. would try to put them away. Even though many documents at that point would be public, they’d still try to classify them under “national security”. Then, as this person fights to stay out of jail for doing the right thing, millions would still support Obama.

    Maybe we should call Obama “The Supreme Leader”?

  9. @Nate: “I don’t know that Obama got “Washingtonized” as much as all his blind supporters were “Washingtonized” I love this line! Extremely well-put!

    @SanderO: “Our beloved Sibel apparently naively thought that whistle blowers get support from the gov.” Yes, I did. My naive years. Also, all that BS education under ‘US Public Policy’;-)

  10. lightviperr says:

    To be honest, I think that even the president has a difficult time fighting with the entrenched institutions that has dropped anchor in Washington. However, I also know that the “measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” My resolve comes from the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Keep fighting.

  11. SanderO says:

    King was quoting the abolitionist Theodore Parker… but it’s a great quote!

  12. SanderO says:


    So many of us are naive about the stated values, laws and so forth such as the phase everyman is equal under the law. Tell that to the poor and dark skinned.

    I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands… one nation, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

    We said it for 12 years every morning… and what a myth it is!

    Can’t begin without innocence… it’s something we have to lose.

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