Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Crime And Punishment-- National Security Style… Forget Dostoevsky


Over the long 4th of July weekend many of us turned to The Guardian for news. An Edward Snowden/Hillary Clinton article from that paper got picked up by dozens of U.S. outlets all during the weekend. The gist of it was that Hillary thinks Snowden, who has been charged with three separate violations of the Espionage Act (which doesn't distinguish between a spy and a whistleblower) should return to the U.S. if he is serious in engaging in the debate. Hill: "If he wishes to return knowing he would be held accountable and also able to present a defence, that is his decision to make."

Is it? I doubt Hillary has read Michael Gurnow's book, The Edward Snowden Affair, the subtitle of which is "Exposing the Politics and Media Behind the NSA Scandal." Perhaps she should, or at least the second chapter, "How To Blow A Whistle," which goes a long way towards describing how disingenuous-- or just idiotic-- Hillary's responses to Snowden questions have been. You think she doesn't know what happens to whistleblowers, even whistleblowers who "go by the book?" Start by watching the 60 Minutes report up top-- and watch Hillary at the bottom… then make up your own mind if you want to see someone like her become President.
The world might not have ever heard of Edward Snowden if it hadn't been for Thomas Drake.

…Drake's contention was that then-NSA director General Michael Hayden had chosen a program called "Trailblazer" over another, titled "ThinThread." Both programs were designed to contend with monitoring the new and exponentially expanding World Wide Web and the advent and increased use of cell phones. Drake was part of a small but well-versed minority that believed ThinThread might have been able to detect and stop the 9/11 attacks had it not been discontinued three weeks prior (some reports claim it was never implemented). Remarkably Trailblazer was still theoretical on September 11, whereas ThinThread had been fully operational since the beginning of the year. Drake and his coalition had outlined that ThinThread was more effective in processing gross amounts of data, and unlike Trailblazer, it was mindful of Americans' pocketbooks and Fourth Amendment privacy rights. ThinThread cost $3 million; Trailblazer had a $1.2 billion price tag.

Following government protocol, Drake worked his way up the administrative grievance ladder. He appealed to his superiors, the NSA inspector general, the Defense Department inspector general, then the House and Senate. As a last resort, Drake-- along with the Republicans' staff expert on NSA's budget for the House Intelligence Committee, Diane Roark, and the lead designers of ThinThread, William Binney, Ed Loomis and J. Kirk Wiebe-- presented a book-length complain to the Department of Defense in 2002. Roark even went as far as contacting Dick Cheney's attorney, David Addington. What Roark didn't know was Addington had been the pen behind the Bush Administration's warrentless wiretapping program. The the Defense Department would eventually internally acknowledge that Drake and Co. had been correct in their assessment, the wasteful, ineffective and invasive programs [also very, very profitable for Bush-Cheney military-industrial complex campaign donors] continued.

There are three motivating factors that permitted the flawed system to persist. One, the government was reluctant to end any security project for fear of appearing unpatriotic. Two, the intelligence agency wanted the illicit data. These two are not mutually exclusive, because any politician labelled unpatriotic during this time risked reelection, and the biggest political donors were corporations who had a vested interest in personal data for marketing and advertising purposes. Three, Hayden was a lieutenant general closing in on retirement. He only had been director of the NSA for a few years and wanted to make a name for himself. He was made a full general a year before retiring in 2006.
No, Hayden is still not in prison. In fact, on May 8, Bush nominated him to be the director of the CIA and he was confirmed by the Senate, 78-15 less than 3 weeks later. Among those few with the sense of decency to vote no were Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, John Kerry, Ron Wyden, Tom Harkin, Dick Durbin, Maria Cantwell, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Today, instead of rotting in a prison cell, he's a senior partner at Michael Chertoff's security consulting firm and on the Board of Motorola. Ed Snowden, however, would disappear forever into a medieval prison cell if he ever follows Hillary Clinton's advise.

UPDATE: Amy Goodman Talks With Julian Assange

I don't understand why this interview hasn't gotten wider coverage by the media. It's certainly worth reading or watching, Maybe if Kim Kardashian had come along…

Goodman asked him about the new "letter that was written to Attorney General Eric Holder, signed by many organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Anthony Romero of the ACLU, Reporters Without Borders, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and many others, calling on the Justice Department to officially close all criminal investigations against WikiLeaks… and to stop harassment and other persecution of WikiLeaks for publishing in the public interest." Among other things, he replied with a statement that went right to a very uncomfortable aspect of what we've been talking about above:
[I]f you look at how the Espionage Act prosecutions have developed, there is now more investigations and prosecutions by the Obama administration of people under the Espionage Act-- principally, whistleblowers and journalists-- than all previous presidents combined, going back to 1917-- in fact, more than double. And people understand that it’s not just us. In fact, the precedent has been set that you can perhaps do this to almost anyone.

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At 3:13 PM, Blogger Daro said...

Hillary is a warmonger, a tool of Wall Street, a limousine liberal and worst of all, a fantasist. Do we recall her claims to be ducking sniper fire in Bosnia? At least there's some pushback on her inevitability now. The comments in Naked Capitalism were endless and scathing...


At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gurnow's book on the Edward Snowden affair outlines how foolish Mrs. Clinton's comments are, because if whistleblower's revelations were effective then there never would have been a need for him to do what he did. Clinton, Bush, or Obama - there isn't much difference between them when it comes to government overreach.


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