Reading the rather frail arguments of President Bunnypants supporters, its pretty obvious that the best they can come up with in defense of spying on Americans without warrants and the de facto endorsement of unlimited presidential power is the “belief” that what Bush has done might be legal. Like most of the Bushbunny scandals this one has an arc. We’re getting to the place on the arc where the Divine Right Republicans think the real controversy is the investigation of the leaks and the supposed treachery of the leakers is the real issue and would everyone please stop throwing dirt on Bush’s pure white wings.
I had a “See, I told you so” moment yesterday morning watching Sen. Chuck Schumer on Fox News Sunday attempt to excuse the NYT/NSA leaks.
And here we are. Possible crime committed, the foundations of the republic shaken and the Grand Goddess of Pajamas media is only concerned tha the snitch is caught and dutifully hang upside down until his/her eyes pop out of their sockets. Setting priorites seems to be especially difficult for the right and the petite McCarthyist is no exception. I even found a mild, but only partial defense of her from the left….
Malkin is actually right, though, that whoever leaked the information about Bush’s pseudo-Stalinist, unconstitutional, impeachable activities is not technically a whistleblower and is probably subject to prosecution, just as Daniel Ellsberg was. Which tells me that whoever the leaker was must think that this is at least as important as the Pentagon Papers, because he or she can’t trust the Bush administration to break into a psychiatrist’s office and blow the case.
Still, I have the feeling that before this is said and done, the leaker will be seen by reasonable people as a de facto whistleblower, even if not a de jure one.
Whistleblowers, are they good folks that have made us aware of possible high crimes of the Bunnypants administration or or they criminals. History has been kind to Ellsberg and will likely be kind to those that, at great risk to themselves have given this country the opportunity to decide if the president has set himself above the law and should he be allowed to continue to do so.
In a previous post I referred to this essay, Why I Am Not a Conservative
Let me return, however, to the main point, which is the characteristic complacency of the conservative toward the action of established authority and his prime concern that this authority be not weakened rather than that its power be kept within bounds. This is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty. In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules. Since he is essentially opportunist and lacks principles, his main hope must be that the wise and the good will rule – not merely by example, as we all must wish, but by authority given to them and enforced by them. Like the socialist, he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them; and, like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the value he holds on other people.
Far right extremists like Malkin, PowerLine. ProteinWisdom follow the conservative recipe that Hayek describes to the letter, and the subjects of their idolatry, Bush and Cheney do as well.
Probably a universal lesson of the American school playground is not to be a snitch. Not a completely bad lesson in that one learns early on to deal with the petty trangressions of others without first appealing to authority to solve every little wrong. That lesson also has a dark side, it gives people that have done serious wrongs the pyschological opening to try and make his or her victims feel guilty about being a victim. The ridiculous claim (on MM’s blog ) has been made that you have to register as a whistleblower in order to be a whistleblower. Ezra Klein, who I have tremendous respect for, has made the argument that us tattered winged patriots should address issues like this in a serious vain no matter how laughable they are. So here’s a simple reference in a recent case involving whistleblowing.
1. U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Security at Risk, where whistleblowers showed how governement defense contractors were gaming the system and providing test results that furthered their interests rather then finding fault with systems on which our military and our country would rely on.
Past results have demonstrated that security forces and DOE field management have learned how to “game-the-game” to the extent that most tests are unrealistic, tactics are “canned” and expected, and the outcome of exercises are pre-ordained. Two techniques are used to performance test the protection system effectiveness – 1) force-on-force tests performed by mock terrorists from the DOE, Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs, and 2) computerized Joint Tactical Simulations (JTS).
A number of groups including the Army Special Forces, Special Operations Unit of the Special Forces, the Navy SEALs and DOE’s Office of Independent Oversight have raised serious questions about realism of the force-on-force tests and the JTS computer simulations used to test the effectiveness of protective force responses.
“In every investigation concerning problems at the DOE weapons facilities and laboratories, the individuals responsible for the operation of defense programs consistently and repeatedly denied the problems, punished the whistle blowers, and covered up the problems to their superiors and Congress.” Representative John D. Dingell (D-MI) (Appendix S)
Retaliation at DOE does not necessarily entail attempting to fire federal employees. In the majority of cases in the security area, DOE supervisors attempt to revoke the whistleblower’s clearance on trumped-up charges. Then they remove them from any responsibility for oversight of security. On the other hand, contractors often lose their contracts, or their jobs, for blowing the whistle. The frequency of retaliation against nuclear security whistleblowers reached such a crescendo, that in 1999 then-Secretary Richardson sent a memorandum to all DOE and contract employees stating: “Management must also create and foster a work environment that allows free and open expression of security concerns, where workers fear no reprisals or retaliation.” (Appendix JJ)
2. PROBLEM: Nuclear Materials Are Spread Across the Country.
Weapons-quantity special nuclear materials are stored at 10 fixed sites. This dispersion is a leftover from the Cold War, when there were many more missions for the various sites. Now, a number of sites have virtually no national security mission, however, they continue to store and try to protect tons of nuclear materials at great cost. DOE can not currently adequately protect this material, and security at each site unnecessarily increases redundancies and costs. However, DOE has resisted consolidation as it would threaten fiefdoms and potentially even lead to the closing down of facilities.
Why or how do we know about these threats to our national security, to the public health? Whistleblowers, people with a conscience who spoke out. I guess that the Royal Order of Bush Worship has little problem with contracting to build missile defense systems that don’t work or unsecured nuclear materials. Are the Bush defenders so neck deep in their blind alligance that they will allow Bush to act like some imperial potentate. Regardless of the chicken-little crys from Malkin and her ilk, Bush has not revealed the exact technical nature of the program, but if it involves massive data surveillance, then he may very well be looking for a needle in a hay stack, rather then relying on proven intelligence methods. Even when the straw-man is not explicit, there continues to be the implied argument that the patriots against Bush’s illegal domestic spying are also against legitimate spying, done with warrants. It is incumbent on this and the next president to use any and all legal means to keep America safe, it is also incumbent on citizens of conscience to blow the whistle when high ranking government officials abuse their power and the trust of the people.
The USA Office of Special Counsel does have a whistleblower site that gives a general overview of what is covered and of course reviling activities related to national security has a special section, The Referral Process under 5 U.S.C. 1213(j)
For disclosures of information involving counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information the statute sets forth a different procedure under 5 U.S.C. § 1213(j). If the Special Counsel determines that a disclosure involves counterintelligence or foreign intelligence information, which is prohibited from disclosure by law or Executive order, the disclosure will be transmitted to the National Security Advisor, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House and Select Committee on Intelligence in the Senate. 5 U.S.C. § 1213(j). The referral ends the Special Counsel’s involvement with the disclosure and the National Security Advisor and the Congressional intelligence committees decide how to proceed with the information.
I’m not a lawyer, but there does appear to be some room for conflict with regards to the rules of whistleblowing and national security:
(a) This section applies with respect to –
(1) any disclosure of information by an employee, former
employee, or applicant for employment which the employee, former
employee, or applicant reasonably believes evidences –
(A) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation
but then it says this, and goes back to the post about Ellsberg:
(i) Except as specifically authorized under this section, the
provisions of this section shall not be considered to authorize
disclosure of any information by any agency or any person which is
(1) specifically prohibited from disclosure by any other
provision of law; or
(2) specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret
in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign
Something to argue about over lunch. Does reporting Bush for breaking the law supercede, in the moral sense,the possible prohibition of revealing the information that was in the original NYT and WaPo articles. Does the public’s right to know and the laws passed by Congress take priority over Bush’s claim that his powers are greater then the people, their elected representatives, and the law. Bush will be between a rock and a hard place when the whistleblowers defense brings this up…. Justice Refused To Sign Off On Bush’s Domestic Surveillance Scheme
The top deputy to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft refused two years ago to approve important parts of the secret program that allows domestic eavesdropping without warrants, prompting two leading White House aides to try to win the needed approval from Mr. Ashcroft himself while he was hospitalized after a gall bladder operation, according to officials knowledgeable about the episode.
With Mr. Ashcroft recuperating from gall bladder surgery in March 2004, his deputy, James B. Comey, who was then acting as attorney general, was unwilling to give his certification to crucial aspects of the classified program, as required under the procedures set up by the White House. . .
and this, President Bush Tips Off Terrorists
SAN ANTONIO — President Bush on Sunday strongly defended his domestic spying program, saying it’s a limited initiative that tracks only incoming calls to the United States.
“It’s seems logical to me that if we know there’s a phone number associated with al-Qaida or an al-Qaida affiliate and they’re making phone calls, it makes sense to find out why,” Bush said. “They attacked us before, they’ll attack us again.”
THE SHADOW had marked a vital spot. He had afforded no solution to the problem. He had waited merely until the government search had shown no results.
Beginning with the knowledge that cunning had outwitted law, The Shadow had followed his process of logical reasoning, as clearly as if he, himself, had been planning a raid upon a ship like the Patagonia.
The Shadow’s hand inscribed a brief, terse message in coded language upon a sheet of paper. As the ink dried, the hands of The Shadow folded the note.
Written in disappearing ink, this simply coded message would fade as soon as its recipient had read it. That was the system The Shadow used when he communicated directly with his agents. – from THE GOLDEN GROTTO