Obama’s Transparency policy proves fraudulent

Image courtesy of Hulu.com

Planning to blow the whistle on corruption?

You may want to wait until the current administration is out of office.

The Obama administration’s pledge of government transparency proves fraudulent as prosecutors have filed criminal charges in five separate cases involving the unauthorized distribution of classified information to the media, according to a March 7 Politico.com article.

In just over two years, the Obama administration’s zeal to prosecute has set an ugly precedent. “Not only does it go against Obama’s pledges of openness by making it a crime to shine a light on the inner workings of government,”according to a March 7 Politico article, but it also terrifies possible whistleblowers into silence.

The Obama administration’s hard-line approach is curtailing the truth by stripping the power of public accountability from the media – journalists afraid of being hauled into court and sources afraid of jail time.

The administration’s aggressive legal offense against those who’ve leaked information is a far cry different from only three cases being similarly filed in the 40 years preceding Obama’s term in office, according to the Politico.com article.

Even the love-hate relationship between the media and former President George W. Bush didn’t result in any convictions for leaking information to the press, according to a June 11, 2010, article in The New York Times.

The Obama administration is proving tougher on whistleblowers than the Bush administration ever was in eight years.

The Obama administration insists it is only pursuing those endangering national security, a threat, government lawyers claim, that the administration has a duty to protect against; and that anyone seeking to expose corruption or malpractice has ample opportunity through “proper channels,” according to Politico.com.

Thomas A. Drake, former member of the NSA, faced felony charges for speaking with a newspaper. Image courtesy of NYTimes.com.

Thomas A. Drake, a National Security Agency (NSA) employee, took his concerns to his bosses, a NSA agency inspector general, the Defense Department’s inspector general and to the Congressional intelligence committee and felt his message was getting nowhere – so he contacted a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, according to The New York Times article.

Drake’s message? He was convinced the government’s eavesdroppers were squandering hundreds of millions of dollars on failed programs while ignoring a promising alternative.

Drake was charged with 10 felonies in April 2010, according to The New York Times. His attempts to notify superiors through the proper channels, so touted by government lawyers, led to nothing but frustration and a wrongful conviction.

Just one month later, a Federal Bureau of Investigation translator was sentenced to 20 months in prison for providing classified documents to a blogger, according to The New York Times.

Private Bradley Manning is being held at USMC brig in Quantico, Va and is suspected of leaking information to WikiLeaks. Image courtesy of politicsdaily.com

In June 2010, the Pentagon confirmed the arrest of Private Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst, suspected of passing a classified video of an American military helicopter shooting of Baghdad civilians and two Reuter’s journalists to WikiLeaks, according to a June 11, 2010, New York Times article.

Still not convicted, Manning has been imprisoned for the past nine months in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va, according to a March 14 article in The New York Times.

He is allowed to walk around for an hour a day in shackles, forced to remove his clothes every night and every morning he is required to stand outside his cell, naked, until he passes inspection and is given his clothes back.

Does this sound like innocent until proven guilty? The Obama administration’s tacit compliance to the treatment of Manning and their approval of government lawyers filing charges against whistleblowers marks the deconstruction of government accountability through the media.

Obama’s promise of an administration of transparency has failed, and the largest campaign against whistleblowers has begun. Now, we wait to see the government’s next move against the next big case – Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Article published by The Bona Venture

Issue date 3/18/11

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