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Apparently the government has learned nothing from the spectacular collapse of the ill-fated criminal prosecution of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake. Drake was charged with 10 felony counts, all of which the government abandoned days before trial when the prosecution's case fell apart in the face of adverse court rulings and overwhelmingly negative media coverage (such as in The New Yorker and 60 Minutes). Drake pleaded to a minor misdemeanor, and, at sentencing, a federal judge lambasted the prosecution, calling delays in the case "unconscionable" and saying that the government put Drake through "four years of hell."  

Despite the Justice Department's glaring defeat in the Drake case, the government is refusing to make amends with the whistleblowers it so egregiously mistreated. A front-page top-of-the-fold Baltimore Sun story reports that Drake and four other whistleblowers filed a lawsuit seeking to recoup property that the government seized in retaliatory raids back in 2007. Drake said the request is simple:

We'd like our stuff back.

The Sun reports:

The court motion filed by Drake and the four others is brief and cites a federal rule governing property seizures. It says the computers are being held in an FBI storage facility on Beltsville Drive in Calverton. "When asked why they have not returned the property," the court motion says, "the FBI responds that it has been waiting for months for the NSA to provide the FBI with its policy regarding this matter."

What is this significant information the government is insisting on holding? It is far from a matter of national security.

Another ex-analyst at NSA, Westminster resident John K. Wiebe, said the FBI returned four of his computers but still has two, taken from his bedroom and recreation room. He said they contain old photos of his ancestors from Ireland and of his parents from Indiana, along with family recipes for fish chowder from Scotland.

The intelligence community's priorities on classification are equally skewed and absurd in recent disputes over pre-publication review, the process used to approve publication of employees' materials. Steven Aftergood, of Federation of American Scientists, reported on a suit brought by author Anthony Shaffer claiming that intelligence agencies violated his First Amendment rights in censoring his Afghanistan war memoir:

. . . the government wants to limit his ability to present his challenge . . . Shaffer has been denied access to the original text of his own book. The text contains classified information, the government says, and he no longer holds a security clearance.  So he is out of luck.

The government is even insisting that unclassified information Shaffer might submit in a declaration be hidden from the public because, "the association of that open source information with the book's redactions may make the . . . declaration classified." As if denying an author access to his own manuscript is not ridiculous enough, Aftergood astutely points out the added absurdity in light of the fact that,

. . . the unredacted text of his book has been publicly released in limited numbers, and portions of it are even available online.

Let's get this straight. According to our "intelligence" community, Shaffer cannot read his own manuscript, even on a secure government computer, but the public can access unredacted portions of it on the Internet. Meanwhile, former NSA employee Wiebe's fish chowder recipe remains safely in FBI custody. It is no wonder that after the case against Drake collapsed, George W. Bush administration classification czar J. William Leonard wrote that

Every 6-year-old knows what a secret is. But apparently our nation's national security establishment does not.
Judging from the secrecy shenanigans continuing today, it appears the intelligence community has yet to figure it out.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Classification Absurdity. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J M F

    This literally sounds crazy . . . because it is.

    The Canary in the Coalmine is available for purchase at

    by Jesselyn Radack on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 07:44:31 AM PST

  •  What happened to these employees (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J M F

    is nothing short of a travesty. An affront to justice.

  •  Sounds like Drakes real crime was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J M F

    telling the damn truth!

    People should go to jail over this miscarriage of justice.

    "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

    by skyounkin on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 07:54:55 AM PST

    •  Cullen Skink-recipe for Scottish fish soup (0+ / 0-)

      600g smoked haddock fillets (preferably un-dyed)
      2 tbsp Knorr concentrated liquid fish stock
      2 large tomatoes
      1 large potato – 450g
      1 medium onion
      10g parsley leaves
      1 bay leaf
      500ml semi skimmed milk
      500ml water
      40g butter
      ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

      Feel along the haddock fillets and remove any bones. If necessary cut the fillets to fit the saucepan then pour over the milk. Add 1 bay leaf and the Knorr liquid fish stock then place over a medium heat and bring up to the boil.

      Meanwhile, place the butter in the frying pan over a low heat. Peel and finely dice the onion then stir into the melted butter coating it well and leave to fry gently.

      When the milk comes up to the boil, take the pan off the heat and put aside, leaving the fish to cook through and infuse it with flavour.

      Now peel a large potato then run it over the blades found on the side of a cheese grater. Otherwise slice very thinly before tipping them onto the onions. Add the cayenne and stir everything well.

      Next, boil 500ml water in the kettle then pour over the potatoes and increase to a high heat. Now add the milk stock pouring it through a sieve and leave the potatoes to boil for 10-12 minutes.

      Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley leaves and put aside.

      Peel the skin off the tomatoes, de-seed and chop the flesh into small dice and add to the parsley.

      Check the potatoes, once they’re cooked, blitz the mix until smooth using a blender stick or liquidize and return to the saucepan.

      Remove the fish skin from the fillets and roughly flake the flesh and tip into the saucepan along with the diced tomato and chopped parsley.

      Return the pan to a medium heat and warm through.

      Serve piping hot in warmed bowls with crusty bread.

       Och Ay The Noo!

      The Canary in the Coalmine is available for purchase at

      by Jesselyn Radack on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 08:07:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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