Skip to main content

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had an almost unbelievably lame non-response when ABC's Jake Tapper asked how the Obama Administration squared lauding freedom of the press and internet freedom abroad while engaging in a record-setting campaign to silence "leakers" a.k.a. sources a.k.a. whistleblowers.

Carney refused to answer the questions, referred Tapper to the Justice Department, and said "I'm not making the assumption" that the Espionage Act prosecutions suppress whistleblowers. The Justice Department is using the prosecutions for exactly that purpose. In the now-failed case against National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, Justice Department prosecutor William Welch II requested a harsh sentence for Drake specifically to "send a message" to other Intelligence Community employees.

But speaking at the Conference on Internet Freedom at the Hague, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

[T]he right to express one's views, practice one's faith, peacefully assemble with others to pursue political or social change . . . these are all rights to which all human beings are entitled, whether they choose to exercise them in a city square or an internet chat room.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S. the Justice Department is doggedly pursuing Espionage Act prosecutions against whistleblowers, thereby labeling them spies and traitors. Not to mention the State Department's retaliation against author Peter Van Buren.

No wonder Carney had a difficult time explaining the glaring hypocrisy. For those who want the visual:

Want to take bets on whose White House press credentials will be yanked next? Or at least Tapper's seat in the front.

Carney also bumbled:

I . . . as for other cases, again, without addressing any specific case, I think that there are issues here that involve highly sensitive classified information,
The specific Espionage Act prosecution he must have not been talking was the spectacularly failed case against NSA whistleblower Drake because the case against Drake involved Espionage Act charges based upon what former classification czar J. William Leonard called the most "deliberate and willful example of government officials improperly classifying a document" he had ever seen.

Maybe we should take Carney's advice and ask the Justice Department, but DOJ's conflicting, confusing, and contradicting bluster about Drake offers no clarity.

The Justice Department's spin on its ungraceful nosedive in the Drake case was that dropping all the felony charges against Drake was needed to protect national security because the case was "too classified to try." Assistant Attorney General Lanney Breuer said in a Justice Department press release:

we must always strike the careful balance between holding accountable those who break our laws, while not disclosing highly-sensitive information that our intelligence agencies conclude would be harmful to our nation's security if used at trial
That might make a marginal amount of sense, except that, in April 2010, when Drake was indicted, AAG Breuer himself told us that going forward with the case against Drake using the Espionage Act was necessary to protect national security:
Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here . . . be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously.
Is this the sort of answer Carney wanted Tapper to seek from the Justice Department? Ockham's Razor provides an explanation for all of this confusion. The Obama administration touts freedom of the press abroad and protecting whistleblowers at home, but the unprecedented Espionage Act prosecutions send the opposite message to potential whistleblowers. There is no easy spin for "we're saying one thing and doing another."

UPDATED: Fox News reported today on Obama's crackdown on so-called "leakers," who are more often than not whistleblowers:

The Obama administration . . . . is cracking down on intelligence leaks with unprecedented vigor.

But open government groups and watchdogs are raising alarm, claiming the administration is taking a heavy-handed approach that could "chill" whistleblowers and those who cover their claims.

Jesselyn Radack, director of national security and human rights for the Government Accountability Project, also said the law is "meant to go after spies, not whistleblowers."

"I'm not saying whistleblowers have carte blanche or should have carte blanche to divulge anything they want," she said. But Radack said they should be "punished appropriately."

She said the prosecutions will have the effect of chilling coverage. "We're back to the good old days of underground parking garages," she said.

 . . . "The knee-jerk reaction is to go after the whistleblower first and really not be concerned with what they might be telling us," [Joe Newman, spokesman with the Project on Government Oversight] said.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, paradox, PhilK, Jackson L Haveck, teacherken, Tony, wytcld, bosdcla14, Sprinkles, Shockwave, genethefiend, OLinda, lysias, saluda, RFK Lives, Heart of the Rockies, Gustogirl, bronte17, annrose, whenwego, Agathena, ask, Xapulin, roses, JuliaAnn, antirove, scorpiorising, danthrax, Dallasdoc, businessdem, On The Bus, Sychotic1, The Walrus, dkmich, FlyingToaster, zerelda, Sassy, sb, joanneleon, LarisaW, OpherGopher, frandor55, Simplify, Laurence Lewis, ratzo, Burned, skyounkin, rb608, SBandini, minidriver, WisePiper, Shotput8, Lisa Lockwood, Alan Arizona, bently, Jim R, CJnyc, Keone Michaels, Medium Head Boy, cardboardurinal, Russgirl, mskitty, Magnifico, Son of a Cat, kck, triv33, philipmerrill, gooderservice, JVolvo, joe shikspack, Preston S, dirtfarmer, Turbonerd, shaharazade, bstotts, Little, One Pissed Off Liberal, bluicebank, A Mad Mad World, pfiore8, SpecialKinFlag, ColoTim, 0wn, david mizner, burlydee, jimotto, aliasalias, Aunt Martha, bobswern, CT Hank, Rumarhazzit, madgranny, Don midwest, kimoconnor, spacejam, poligirl, Involuntary Exile, dadadata, jamess, hwmnbn, MrJayTee, Wek, mofembot, temptxan, petulans, Executive Odor, Robobagpiper, rhutcheson, David Futurama, ZhenRen, legendmn, rcnewton, jarbyus, The Dead Man, ewmorr, An Affirming Flame, zongo, dark daze, Zotz, h bridges, kravitz, Lacy LaPlante, Knarfc, sneakers563, roadbear, Simple, sk7326, cordgrass, albrt, 4kedtongue, Mac in Maine, allenjo, HiKa, thomask, sonorelli, poliwrangler, gila, happenstance, Sunspots, Kathleen McClellan, aerie star, SouthernLiberalinMD, quill, Tentwenty, greenbastard, 420 forever, 2thanks, FreeSpeaker, chipmo, toyotabedzrock, FrY10cK, JustinBinFL, deconite, Robynhood too, BradyB, Prospect Park, Chaddiwicker, glorificus, ladyjames, Markoff Chaney

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site