Whistleblowers Vs. The State

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Immediately after WikiLeaks released thousands of documents revealing the extent of CIA surveillance and hacking practices, the government was calling for an investigation — not into why the CIA has amassed so much power, but rather, into who exposed their invasive policies.

“A federal criminal investigation is being opened into WikiLeaks’ publication of documents detailing alleged CIA hacking operations, several US officials,” reportedly told CNN.

According to USA Today:

The inquiry, the official said, will seek to determine whether the disclosure represented a breach from the outside or a leak from inside the organization. A separate review will attempt to assess the damage caused by such a disclosure, the official said.

Even Democratic representative Ted Lieu, who has been urging whistleblowers to come forward to expose wrongdoing within the Trump administration, has turned his focus away from what the documents exposed and toward determining how it could have possibly happened.

“I am deeply disturbed by the allegation that the CIA lost its arsenal of hacking tools,” he said while calling for an investigation. “The ramifications could be devastating. I am calling for an immediate congressional investigation. We need to know if the CIA lost control of its hacking tools, who may have those tools, and how do we now protect the privacy of Americans.”

According to Lieu’s statements, the problem isn’t necessarily that the CIA is spying on Americans and invading innocent people’s technology without consent. It’s that the CIA mishandled their spying tools, and in doing so, endangered Americans’ privacy by exposing the tools to presumably ‘bad actors.’ The problem isn’t the corrupt agency violating basic privacy rights, but that they weren’t skillful enough to keep their corruption under wraps.

So goes the familiar whistleblower narrative in the United States. Whistleblowers step forward to expose wrongdoing on the part of government — something the government claims to support — and immediately, establishment institutions and the media bend the conversation away from the wrongdoing in order to focus on the unlawful release of secrets.

Putting aside the fact that, according to popular American mythology breaking the law is a patriotic duty, the government and politicians’ reactions are both hypocritical and habitual.

When Chelsea Manning revealed damning evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, including soldiers directly targeting Reuters news staff, the response was not to investigate who allowed those crimes (in fact, a later Pentagon manual went on to describe instances in which it’s permissible to kill journalists; that version was later retracted after outcry from reporters). Rather, Manning was subject to a military tribunal and issued multiple life sentences, a cruel and unusual punishment reversed only in President Obama’s last days in office amid his attempts to salvage his abysmal human rights, transparency, and whistleblower record.

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When Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA’s warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens and millions of others around the world, the government’s response was not to investigate why those programs existed in the first place. Rather, they thrashed and flailed around the world, ordering the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales to be grounded in the hopes of catching the whistleblower. Congress later passed the deceptive “USA Freedom Act,” which codified continued surveillance.

Edward Snowden remains in exile, and establishment politicians repeatedly call him a traitor for exposing the crimes of his government. Some, including Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo, have called for his execution. Mass surveillance continues, and the president himself is seeking to retain those powers as he condemns former President Obama for allegedly spying on him.

And so on and so forth. The same was true for John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, William Binney, and Jeffrey Sterling. The government is exposed for wrongdoing, and rather than prove themselves to be representatives of the people by remedying those transgressions, they point fingers and divert, all the while refusing to relinquish the unjust power any given agency is exposed for having.

Many people are already aware that the government does little to actually serve them (Americans’ trust in political leaders and government, in general, is abysmally low). Rather, government agents and agencies operate to advance and concentrate their own interests and power. This is why penalties against killing government employees are more stringent than killing civilians. It is why stealing from the government is perceived as more outrageous to the State than stealing from a civilian. The government considers “crimes” committed against itself to carry the utmost offense, yet often fails to deliver justice to the people who provide their financial foundation.

As a result, the State does not even try to show remorse for its violative policies, even when they are exposed and splattered across social media for the world to see. Instead, with the help of corporate media, the debate is shifted to whether or not WikiLeaks is a criminal organization, or whether or not Edward Snowden is a traitor.

As White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of the leaks:

This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security. This alleged leak should concern every American for its impact on national security. … Anybody who leaks classified information will be held accountable to the maximum extent of the law.

Meanwhile, we’re supposed to accept the government’s investigation of itself, which (surprise!) usually finds little or no wrongdoing on their own behalf and often consolidates and extends the very same power whistleblowers exposed in the first place.

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Image Credit: Anthony Freda Art

  • Dan Smith

    A good movie about this was Safe House… Those in the dark do not like their deeds exposed in the light

    • Joe Blow

      I’m melting……..

      • Dan Smith

        Jesus loves you Joe and it is still not too late to make Him Lord… However, once you are on the other side of death there are no mulligans…

  • littljo

    Funny the CIA is concerned about our safety…and…I got some beach front property in Arizona.
    You can run on for a long time

    Run on for a long time

    Run on for a long time

    Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

    Sooner or later God’ll cut you down Johnny Cash Run On.

  • onetree

    Mr. Lieu has things ass-backwards. This is how we know without a doubt, if anyone still has a doubt, that this government is completely corrupt.

  • ICFubar

    We will have to see what the reaction of the government and its spook agencies are in the aftermath of the Wiki revelations, whether new legislation or policies are adopted, signaling whether this was an intentional disclosure on the agencies part or not. What is clear is that the government and its agencies don’t give a damn what the people think about their illegal actions and that they are the people’s prime enemy. Not Iran, China or Russia or whoever else they wish to paint as the current hobgoblin in their unilateral march for world domination in the service of the western plutocracy.

    • Common Sense

      You answered your own question.
      No need to wait for the aftermath. You said yourself they don’t give a damn about us, (which is absolutely true), so nothing will be done except plans for future violations against the people because our inaction and silence is acceptance.

      All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.
      We’re experts at that.

      • ICFubar

        What we can do as individuals is fight back each in our own small individual ways, and if each of us shifts the collective force of those individual shifts is enormous. Like shifting your accounts from a bank to a credit union…..etcetera

        • Common Sense

          Did that long ago just out of common sense, but what is really needed is unity among the American people. Divide and conquer has been the go to device by the criminals that have stolen power and it is working more today than I can ever remember, hence we are getting further away from the solution needed.

          With the corruption and tactics being used over and again, and the people not catching on to these same old tired tricks indicates a learning disability by the people.

          As long as we keep buying the puppet show we will always be the ones holding the bag in the end.

          Right now, our actions are showing that the only thing we hate more than our evil overlords is each other.

          That’s the last thing we should be doing. We are being poked through the cage bars and led to believe our fellow captures did it to promote infighting.

          If we cannot see this anything else is useless.

          • ICFubar

            Totally agree. How refreshing it is to find someone who is not caught up in the divisive tactics being used against the people, as far too many are.

          • Michael McKinney

            Called the truth!

        • G’ma G

          So, we are looking at mass arrests for civil disobedience since none of the passive methods already well employed have not effected positive change.

  • Archie1954

    The way whistleblowers are treated by the US government is evidence of the gross corruption that has taken hold in Washington. The US government breaks its own laws with impunity everyday, but cries bloody murder when its lawbreaking is made public. It is too bad that Americans as a whole are brutally ignorant of their own best interests and that the government intends on keeping them that way! As for WikiLeaks, it has no legal requirement to any government to prevent it from publishing whatever it wants to and to whom it wants to, None!

    • Common Sense

      The American people are WILLFULLY ignorant of the blatant corruption by now.
      They intentionally bury themselves in entertainment as form of escapism. Perhaps they are afraid their apathy has reached critical mass and don’t know what to do about the consequences. Either way, nature and causality will come about. More than likely they will be crushed under the weight of the corruption they are in denial of.

      This is natures way of setting right what mankind refuses to.

  • Common Sense

    Another direct slap in the face of the American people.
    And when we act surprised and ask what happened, we will be told, “It’s the Russians”

    We are still buying feeble lies children would question.
    Truly pathetic.

    The American people are getting the government they deserve.

    A PEOPLE DESERVE ANY REGIME THEY ENDURE.

  • drbhelthi

    Lieu continues the distraction techniques which have been amplified, to incorporate the entire U.S. Congress, from the use by the Bush-MOSSAD destruction of 9-11 to set up Moslems via the decoys sent by Saudi Arabia to “Jeb” Bush in Florida, 2001.

    The recent release by wikileaks of CIA data reveals the continued improvement of PROMIS, originally designed and sold by INSLAW. MOSSAD has used PROMIS to acquire secrets of all nations since the early 1980s, if not sooner.

    For details, see “Profits of War Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network”, Ari Ben-Menashe, pp 130-135. More than likely, MOSSAD hacked Clinton, Trump, DNC computers and deposited hints of Russia, which any competent hacker can do.

    • Gayle Geer

      Interesting! I found page 130 online, but not 135. Do you have a link?

  • jnavratil

    There are no black hats and white hats here.

    We need signals intelligence to know our enemy. We don’t want to spy on our citizens without a good reason and a warrant. Does anyone really not want to be able monitor a real bad actor (think mafia, ABSCAM, D.C.’s mayor Marion Barry, ISIS, Tim McVeigh, Nidal Hassan)? On the face of it, NSA’s redaction of any citizen’s identity would seem to cover it.

    Do we want to conduct our legitimate investigations in public? Of course not! Think the NYT spilling the beans on how we monitored Osama Bin Laden’s communications and the cost to us of their doing so. Do we want Snowden doing the same thing? Again, no.

    OTOH, it doesn’t seem we can trust the intelligence community to do its job correctly. How does the NYT say for months that Trump and his campaign were being surveilled to determine if there was a Russian connection and now, with a straight face, say Trump has lost his marbles saying he was wiretapped? Was he under surveillance, or not? Why? How did Flynn’s conversation get leaked? If we are to trust them, they need to be trustworthy. It seems they are just political hacks. Think J. Edgar Hoover.

    Whistleblowing isn’t without it’s own responsibilities. See paragraph 2, and ask how a Snowden claims the authority to do what he did. He cannot claim to be purer than Caeser’s wife, either.

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