Friday, July 5, 2013

A Surveillance State Means No More Whistleblowers

A friend sent me this post from Jesselyn Radack's blog. Radack was an attorney with the Department of Justice in 2001, and advised the people holding the "American Taliban," Jeffrey Walker Lindh not to interview him without his lawyer being present. They ignored her advice, interrogated him (probably using waterboarding), and then called her back and said, "Oops. We interviewed him. Now what?" She then told them they could use the information for military purposes, but not for evidence in a trial. Again, they ignored her advice and used it in the trial. She found out that her email advice to the prosecution was "lost." She recovered it from her computer, gave a copy to her supervisor and resigned. When she found out that the illegally obtained evidence was being used against Lindh at his trial, she leaked the emails to Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff. The leaks saved Lindh from getting the death sentence.  Somehow the FBI was able to obtain Isikoff's phone records and tracked down the leaks to Radack.  Consequently, her life was made a hell by the government for the next decade

In her post, Radack points out one of the true dangers of a surveillance state:  If whistleblowers know that every attempt at communication with the press will be observed by the government, then there will be no more whistleblowers.  In a democracy, we depend upon the honesty of our government.  Whistleblowers are one of the major means of insuring this honesty.  Without them, what goes on in government will remain a complete black box.

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