What do a retired Catholic Bishop, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and a United Arab Emirates' newspaper commentator have in common? They are all critical of the government's unprecedented use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers.
Yesterday, I wrote about a significant piece in the United Emirates' newspaper The National, which criticized the U.S. government's hypocrisy in declining to criminally prosecute government officials who authorized, orchestrated and committed torture during the G.W. Bush-era while prosecuting John Kiriakou -- a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower who helped expose torture -- under the heavy-handed Espionage Act.
Yesterday, retired Catholic Bishop John McCarthy similarly criticized Kiriakou's prosecution:
Dear Lord, something is really out of balance here. Interrogators who tortured prisoners or the officials who gave the orders, the attorneys who authored the torture memos, CIA agents who destroyed the interrogation tapes have not been held professionally accountable, much less charged with crimes, but John Kiriakou is facing decades in prison for helping to expose torture.The hypocrisy of Kiriakou's case is enough to find common ground between a retired Catholic Bishop and commentator for the UAE's newspaper, yet the U.S. is still doggedly pursuing Kiriakou using the archaic Espionage Act, a law meant to go after spies, not whistleblowers.
Bishop McCarthy also recognized the invaluable role of whistleblowers in governmental and private institutions, including within the Catholic Church.
Nevertheless, because of that weakness, sin and corruption abounds all around us in the corporate world, the government and sadly even the Church. Because of this, there is a need for people with integrity within these massive organizations and movements to have the courage to stand up, criticize and, if necessary, publically condemn evil, dishonesty, mismanagement, theft, etc. This is very hard to do because large organizations dont like any criticism, much less public criticism and they will often move against the complainer with a very heavy hand.If Bishop McCarthy and The National's Paul Muir aren't unlikely enough bedfellows, add Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who spoke out against Kiriakou's prosecution in August:
The U.S. administration's war on whistleblowers must end. Thomas Drake, William Binney, John Kiriakou, and other heroic whistleblowers must be pardoned or compensated for the hardships they have endured as servants of the public record.It is always nefarious to use the criminal justice system as a whistleblower retaliation tool, but the Espionage Act is a particularly blunt instrument. Add one more unlikely bedfellow to the group criticizing the Espionage Act. Open Society Institute's Mort Halperin, who told The New Yorker that if government successfully used the Espionage Act to convict National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake:
It poses a grave threat to the mechanism by which we learn most of what the government does, Halperin says.The case against Drake collapsed in spectacular fashion before trial, and Drake himself has pointed to similarities between his case and Kiriakou's. Kiriakou's trial is set for November 26th.