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Our country's need for courageous whistleblowers is now. That is mostly why Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) publicly honors people who have spoken truth, and suffered the consequences, as Sam Adams, my former analyst colleague at CIA, did on Vietnam.
So that is why, this year, we are honoring Thomas Drake, who was a senior official at the National Security Agency where he observed serious waste, fraud and violations of the constitutional rights of Americans, and Jesselyn Radack, a Justice Department lawyer who objected to the abusive treatment of John Walker Lindh, dubbed the "American Taliban" during the early days of the Afghan War. [See details below.]
We want to encourage people with integrity to blow the whistle, preferably with documents, when circumstances dictate this course of action as the correct moral choice. There are, in other words, what ethicists call "supervening values" that dwarf non-disclosure promises, and SAAII's annual award for integrity is an excellent reminder of that reality -- and of its relevance to today.
It is well known, for example, that serious CIA analysts have never bought Gen. David Petraeus' repeated assurances that we are making "progress" in Afghanistan. As commander of U.S. forces there, what else, pray tell, was he going to say?
Now Petraeus is commander of CIA analysts who know better than most that the "progress" is illusory -- and the modifier "fragile but reversible" is as disingenuous as similar formulae recited by Gen. William Westmoreland in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
How long will it take one of those honest analysts to summon the courage to let the country know that the repeated incantations that we are making "fragile" progress in Afghanistan are hogwash?
Some have risen to the occasion in the past and blown the whistle -- but often too late, at the cost of squandering thousands more lives. Dan Ellsberg has often said he wishes he had not waited until 1971 to reveal the entire official fraud on Vietnam, known as the Pentagon Papers.
(Actually, as you will see below, in early 1968, in his first such leak to the media, Dan did give the New York Times, then an independent newspaper, Sam Adams's honest -- and correct -- estimate of Communist strength just in time to prevent President Lyndon Johnson from acceding to Westmoreland's secret request for 206,000 more troops.)
Dan has spoken at our annual events in the past, but is on deadline to finish a book and will not be with us this year. We have, nonetheless, a good line-up for the award ceremony and discussion on Monday, Nov. 21 at American University.
Below you will find the flyer SAAII and American University are using to promote next Monday's event, and also a short description of the origins of SAAII and its previous annual award winners.
You and your friends are cordially invited to join us.
Truth & Consequences: Blowing the Whistle on Government Abuse
Ward Circle Bldg, Rm. 2, American U; Mon., November 21 at 8:10 pm; free
Keynote Speakers: Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, winners of this year's award from Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence
Thomas Drake was a senior official at the National Security Agency where he witnessed widespread waste, fraud, and violations of the 4th Amendment rights of U.S. citizens. He blew the whistle, and the Justice Department tried him for espionage -- and lost. The extraordinary charges against him are symptomatic of the rising power of the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-surveillance-cybersecurity complex.
Jesselyn Radack was the Justice Department attorney who stood up for the Constitutional rights of John Walker Lindh, a young U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan and widely denigrated as the "American Taliban." She was dissed. And Lindh became the first American to be tortured by Americans during the early days of the Afghan War. "Justice" then made her a target of a criminal investigation and put her on the "No-Fly" List. She is now with the Government Accountability Project and was one of the lawyers representing Tom Drake under circumstances closely resembling her own.