Tim Shorrock's must-read piece in The Nation features the "NSA Four" - whistleblowers Thomas Drake, Bill Binney, J. Kirk Wiebe, and Edward Loomis - continuing to disclose waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse they witnessed at NSA.
Their significant disclosures deserve attention:
James Bamford, the world’s foremost authority on the NSA, said . . . "In terms of going public with their names and faces,” the NSA Four rank as the most important whistleblowers in NSA history, he added. “Obviously, I think they’re very credible.”Many on Kos are no doubt familiar with the Drake case - and the government's failed Espionage Act prosecution against him - and have heard Drake, Wiebe and Binney speak about the NSA's unconstitutional warrantless spying.
Shorrock's blockbuster piece focuses on the whistleblowers' disclosures of massive contract fraud, waste, and abuse:
I went over these details with a government procurement analyst who once worked for the Pentagon’s OIG and has had access to classified contracts. He could not comment on the record because of his current position in government, but was shocked at the evidence of collusion. “That’s the fraud, waste and abuse right there,” he said. “You’re steering the contract to a favored client. That’s blatant and outright favoritism. The impropriety is apparent.”The article reveals plenty of officials waltzing through the revolving door from government to lucrative contractor positions and back again, but it also reveals a wide-open barn door where NSA spent billions in taxpayer dollars on contracts hard wired to go to certain favored companies, primarily NSA contract giant SAIC. The whistleblowers' disclosures focused on the failed NSA flagship program "Trailblazer:"
“The orders came from the very top,” Drake says. “They just ensured it was weighted in a way to award it to SAIC and its subcontractors. That was the deal.”The whistleblowers reported what they witnessed to the Department of Defense Inspector General, which vindicated them in 2005. That didn't stop the Justice Department from targeting the NSA Four and congressional staffer Diane Roark (who also reported to the IG) with a criminal investigation that lasted years.
Despite the fact that they had to endure the costs - mental and financial - of being the targets of an unjust criminal investigation (and in Drake's case prosecution under the Espionage Act), the NSA Four continue to bravely speak out against the corruption they witnessed at NSA:
... corporations—and their moles inside the NSA—ran Trailblazer from the start. The fix began in 2000, when Hayden hired Bill Black, a wily NSAer who had worked at the highest levels of SIGINT in Europe as Hayden’s deputy. For the previous three years, from 1997 to 2000, he’d been working for SAIC, then a rising San Diego defense contractor with extensive contacts in the intelligence community. Black’s new job at the NSA was to carry out Hayden’s “transformation” plan by siphoning business to companies like his. To get the Trailblazer contract up and running, Black hired one of his closest associates from SAIC: Sam Visner, who had left the NSA in the mid-1990s to work as a contractor.The NSA Four are justifiably concerned about the consequences of a continued lack of meaningful protections for national security whistleblowers. (President Obama's recent policy directive mandating that agencies at least provide internal protections is not yet implemented, much less functioning effectively).
Without real protections, [the NSA Four] say, accountability is impossible. “When you permit something like Trailblazer and no heads roll except for the whistleblowers, what kind of message does that send to the American public?” asked Loomis.Certainly the surveillance concerns Drake, Binney, and Wiebe have raised are far from outdated. Today's Washington Post features an article on StingRay - a device
which simulates a cellphone tower and enables agents to collect the serial numbers of individual cellphones and then locate them.Since 9/11 the national security state has consistently sought to obtain more power and spend more taxpayer money than ever before. We need whistleblowers like the NSA Four to ensure that our government is obtaining power legitimately and spending the taxpayer money efficiently.