Originally published on Daily Kos.
I get that the United States is willing to forfeit
a solid prosecution to get justice for Western spies. But what I don't
get is why the United States is prosecuting one of its own
citizens--who spent most of his adult life serving in the Air Force and
later working for the government--for revealing gross waste, abuse and
illegality by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The spy exchange brings into sharp relief the bogus criminal case
against whistleblower Thomas Drake.
Drake, who disclosed one of NSA's failed billion-dollar illegal
secret surveillance programs is charged under the Espionage Act for
"retaining classified information" (something countless national
security and intelligence employees who have ever worked from home have
done) and faces 35 years in jail.
The United States charged Drake as a "spy" when what he was
complaining about was our government spying on us!
The indictment of whistleblower Tom Drake is a
pathological perversion of the truth. The government spied on us, so
that makes him a "spy" for revealing their lie?
Want to know what Drake is guilty of?
Spying on behalf of the Constitution against the Surveillance State
into which our country was warped after 9/11. He's guilty of exposing
government illegalities, and massive fraud, waste and abuse that made us
less secure and decreased our capability to inform top-level government
decisionmakers regarding intelligence indications and warnings.
Now his very freedom is at stake, and the future of all potential
whistleblowers and a truly accountable government--of, by and for the
people. Not against the people.
According to a Washington Post article,
U.S. officials said there was no point in holding the [Russian spies]
since authorities had monitored their activities for years and had
unraveled their network.
Huh?? Is there no point in prosecuting those in the drug trade
because law enforcement has monitored their smuggling activity for years
and unraveled their gang?
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Of course not. Let's at least be honest about what the hasty spy
swap is really about:
- further improving our relationship with Cold War
"frienemy" Russia just days after President Obama and Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev shared cheeseburgers; and
- freeing our own spies who got caught.
We can cloak it in humanitarian concern about Russia's mistreatment
of their prisoners, but this is belied by our refusal to "look back" at
our own torture of prisoners.
Other U.S. spies for the Soviet Union--think Robert Hanssen and
Aldrich Ames--are behind bars serving life without parole. The
Obama/Holder "catch-and-release" policy is no deterrent to future
And Tom Drake, whom Pentagon Papers whistleblower icon Daniel
Ellsberg called a "hero," is the convenient "senior"-level scapegoat to
be sacrificed on the alter of the national security apparatus--as
atonement for the government's sins against our citizenry and our
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...