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Whistleblower Rollercoaster & Espionage Hysteria

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 12/21/10

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Rep. Darrell Issa believes the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act--which had been stuck in the Senate for more than a decade--should be considered next year, when the Republicans control the House, citing new areas of concern that have been raised by WikiLeaks disclosures.

This should be juxtaposed with an article on "Assange's Enablers," written by an Assange critic, who aptly points out that

[t]he reflexive classifying has, by creating the perception that the government has much to hide, created a market for WikiLeaks,

something I've been saying here for quite some time.

The irony is that the antidote to WikiLeaks is meaningful and credible whistleblower reform, coupled with necessary declassification of things that should not be secret.

Even Dana Milbank of the Washington Post gets that:

The only reason Wikileaks has been a sensation is the absurd secrecy of the Obama administration, in some ways worse than that of George W. Bush.

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Lest you think that Milbank's words are mere hyperbole, he cites

Obama's surprisingly poor record on government openness. The administration has already undertaken four prosecutions of government leakers more than any predecessor, in some cases using the arcane, World War I-era Espionage Act.

I'm glad the mainstream media is finally getting this exact point that I made 4 months ago here.

There are 3 immediate problems:

1) The overreaching indictments against people like Thomas Drake and Stephen Kim need to be dropped immediately.

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Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a former senior adviser for intelligence contractor with the State Department, is charged with disclosing to a media outlet that the CIA had warned that North Korea planned to respond to new U.N. sanctions with another nuclear test. The public has a right to know such information, the newsworthiness of which has been amplified in the past couple of days by the U.N. Security Council holding emergency talks to try to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula, where South Korea is vowing to proceed with a live-fire military exercise, despite threats of retaliation from the North.

And the case of former NSA senior official Thomas Drake for disclosing illegal and wasteful secret surveillance programs shows the sheer desperation and audacity of the government, most recently, in trying to obtain prematurely the names of his consulting--not testifying--experts, contrary to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Classified Information Procedures Act, and the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both parties. (Luckily the government lost that battle, as detailed here.)

2) The government needs to stop trying to keep harmless information secret.

At the House Judiciary Committee hearing last Thursday, Chairman John Conyers complained of rampant over-classification.

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My name is Jesselyn Radack and I am the former Justice Department ethics attorney and whistleblower in the case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. In today's issue of The National Law Journal (Feb. 19, 2007), I have an Op-Ed entitled (more...)

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