Skip to main content

Truthout - October 2019

"Hypocrisy and double standards, of course, are nothing new in the nation’s capital or from corporate media outlets. But the current deluge of mainstream reverence for “national security” whistleblowing shouldn’t be taken at face value."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was quick to condemn NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when he revealed the U.S. government’s vast surveillance programs. “I think that he should be prosecuted,” Pelosi told reporters, just days after Snowden’s name became public in June 2013.

Later that month, speaking about Snowden at a Netroots Nation conference, Pelosi rendered a quick summary judgment: “He did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents.” Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” she reiterated that Snowden “did break the law” — and added the flagrant lie that “he’s threatening in any event to share information with Russia and China.”

Sticking to a basic script for leaders of both major parties, Pelosi has vehemently denied the systematic violations of the Fourth Amendment that Snowden exposed. Such denial is routine, while sometimes going over-the-top to blame the messenger for the accurate news. “Edward Snowden is a coward,” the Obama administration’s top diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry, said in a TV interview one year after Snowden’s revelations. “He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country.”

Fast-forward to the present: House Speaker Pelosi, now the most powerful Democrat in the U.S. government, is suddenly voicing grave concern for the rights and safety of the whistleblower who filed the complaint that has led to an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. The intelligence agency insider, she declared, “must be provided with every protection guaranteed by the law to defend the integrity of our government and ensure accountability and trust.”

But leading Democrats and Republicans have shown scant interest in ensuring genuine “accountability and trust.” On many profound issues, whistleblowing is essential to fill the gap left by powerful politicians who use soothing rhetoric to fog up their dedicated service to corporate America and the military-industrial-surveillance complex.

Congressional Democrats and their Republican counterparts didn’t inform the public about a vast array of war crimes by the U.S. military in Iraq. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning did.

The bipartisan leadership in Congress didn’t inform the public about the torture procedures of the George W. Bush administration. CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou did.

Congressional leaders didn’t inform the public about the wholesale shredding of the Fourth Amendment by the Bush and Obama administrations. NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden did.

The persecution of “national security” whistleblowers is an ongoing effort to block the flow of crucial information. The entire concept of democracy is based on the informed consent of the governed. Without whistleblowers like Manning, Kiriakou, Drake and Snowden, we’re left with the uninformed “consent” of the governed, which is not meaningful consent at all.

With few exceptions, officials running all three branches of the U.S. government are unwilling to disrupt systems of secrecy that hide what cannot withstand the light of day. Those systems protect multibillion-dollar industries profiting from huge military budgets and surveillance operations. Without unauthorized disclosures, we would know far less about the destructive effects of what’s done with our tax dollars in our names.
Read full report at Truthout