We don’t claim any expertise in national security matters, nor even detailed knowledge regarding the Kirakou and Drake whistleblower cases to which this plea for funding is addressed. We decided to associate ourselves with their cause because we view the corrupting power of concentrated wealth, the problem we call Big Money, as only one of the two existential threats our country faces; the other is Big Government. That’s not Big Government as Republican politicians frame the problem — “entitlements” “regulations” “taxes” — but civil liberties and civil rights violations on a massive scale. For Black Lives Matter, it’s government in the form of homicidal local police and the racism that fuels their rage and undergirds much of the political support that Republican politicians exploit. For the whistleblowers, it’s the national security state, a central aspect of which is a system of illegal surveillance and First Amendment abuses that transcend race.
As have many Americans, we’ve been alarmed and outraged at the government’s wholesale violations of individual liberties. We weren’t surprised by the Bush-Cheney crowd. They claimed virtually unlimited authority to do whatever they pleased, unchecked by the judicial or legislative branches. They even gave it a fancy name: the “unitary executive.” There are always clever, ambitious lawyers to make sophisticated cases for patently illegal schemes.
Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank wrote on October 11, 2004:
"Cheney has tried to increase executive power with a series of bold actions — some so audacious that even conservatives on the Supreme Court sympathetic to Cheney's view have rejected them as overreaching."
Most Republicans, the same politicians who have appropriated the word “freedom” itself, as in “Freedom Caucus” “Free Markets,” “Free Enterprise,” and we mustn’t forget “Freedom Fries,” went along with the Bush-Cheney regime. So did many Democrats, fearful of the “soft on terrorism” attack leveled at Max Cleland by our Madam of the month for February, Saxby Chambliss.
Republicans now attack Obama for presidential overreach, not so much for civil liberties violations but for using executive orders to extend rights to vulnerable groups. While it’s facile to compare Obama’s record on civil liberties with that of the Bush-Cheney regime, the record is bad enough. And the administration’s use of the Espionage Act to intimidate and imprison whistleblowers is particularly ugly. We wouldn’t know a fraction of the civil liberties abuses undertaken by Bush and expanded by Obama were it not for Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and many lesser-known whistleblowers. Courage and true patriotism in the face of prosecution and possible imprisonment for long years is rare. We think we owe these whistleblowers a debt of gratitude. This is our modest gesture to repay a small portion of that debt. If you agree, send them a donation.
The following material comes from the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign, a project of the RootsAction Education Fund team.
Just before Barack Obama moved into the White House, his official website promised to "Protect Whistleblowers," praising government employees who are "committed to public integrity and willing to speak out."
"Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled," the statement added.
But since Obama's inauguration seven years ago, his administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined, doing huge damage to civil liberties and the public's right to know.
We must fight back. Please click here to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign.
This campaign is co-chaired by two people with grim firsthand knowledge of the current war on whistleblowers.
National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake and CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou were relentlessly prosecuted by the Obama Justice Department, and each paid a very heavy price. Now, your donation can support their ongoing work to defend the Fourth and Eighth Amendments.
The Obama administration pursued multi-year vendettas that absurdly used the Espionage Act against those two brave whistleblowers. Thomas Drake endured years of ruthless investigation, harassment and prosecution before defeating the government in court. John Kiriakou spent two years in prison before being released last year.
The government was successful in completely wrecking the personal finances of both men and their families.
To counter such repressive policies, you can contribute now with a tax-deductible donation!
Half of every dollar you donate to this campaign will go directly to John Kiriakou and Thomas Drake, providing them with vital personal support as they continue to speak out. The other half of your donation will fund the public education campaign they're chairing.
Click here if you don't think the financial lives of "national security" whistleblowers should be destroyed for speaking truth about power.
Last winter, while John Kiriakou was still in prison, a Huffington Post headline summed up: "The One Man Jailed for CIA Torture Tried to Expose It."
If you find that morally unacceptable, please support John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake and the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign. Your contribution will be tax-deductible.
This week, the RootsAction Education Fund asked Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou for brief comments as we launch our 2016 campaign. Here’s what they said:
"The Fourth Amendment is the right to be left alone — free of government interference or intrusion — except when the government can show probable cause via affidavit for a particularized search and seizure when presented before a judge — a very high bar to meet.
"Anything else that breaches this amendment clearly violates both the spirit and the letter of the supreme law of the land in the U.S. — the Constitution.
"I took an oath to support and defend that same Constitution four times in my government career — once in the Air Force, at CIA, in the Navy and at NSA — without any mental reservation, while showing true faith and allegiance to the same.
"Warrantless mass surveillance violates the Constitution.
"However, as the 'reward' for upholding the heart of the Constitution and disclosing mass surveillance, billions in fraud and 9/11 intel cover-up, I was turned into a criminal for exposing government conduct and activities violating that very same Constitution, and paid an extremely high price for doing so."
"The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing unduly harsh penalties on criminal defendants, either as the price for obtaining pretrial release or as punishment for crime after conviction.
"But what about the punishments that aren't in writing, like solitary confinement? The United Nations has branded the use of solitary in American prisons as 'torture.' Who will stand up for those victims? Where are their Constitutional remedies? It's up to all of us to work to protect them. It's up to us to educate the public and to keep up the fight."
You can help us educate the public and keep up the fight via the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign.
— The RootsAction Education Fund team
* Office of the President-Elect: "Ethics Agenda"
* Jesselyn Radack, The New York Times: "Whistleblowers Deserve Protection Not Prison"
* The Huffington Post: "The One Man Jailed for CIA Torture Tried to Expose It"
* Jane Mayer, The New Yorker: Thomas Drake — "The Secret Sharer"
Please also see "Permanent Security State"