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View Diary: Journalist Surveillance Goes Far Beyond AP (97 comments)

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  •  I explained the difference in 2010 (15+ / 0-)
    Unfortunately, the terms "leaking" and "whistle-blowing" are often used synonymously to describe the public disclosure of information that is otherwise secret. Both acts have the effect of damaging the subject of the revelation. But leaking is quite different from blowing the whistle. The difference turns on the substance of the information disclosed. The Whistleblower Protection Act protects the disclosure of information that a government employee reasonably believes evidences fraud, waste, abuse or a danger to public health or safety. But far too often, whistle-blowers are retaliated against, with criminal prosecution being one of the sharpest weapons in the government's arsenal.

    For example, Daniel Ellsberg, the patriarch of whistle-blowers in modern times, disclosed the Pentagon Papers, a secret government study of the Vietnam War, to the New York Times. The publication of the papers helped to end the Vietnam War. But Ellsberg was still prosecuted. Tamm revealed an indisputably illegal secret surveillance program, but he has been under criminal investigation since Dec. 30, 2005, a case that remains open. I am still under investigation by the Washington, D.C., bar after nearly seven years, despite the hypocrisy of the Justice Department in declining to prosecute — much less refer to licensing bars — the lawyers who wrote the torture memos related to detainees after 9/11.

     In contrast, when I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, unmasked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, he was not trying to disclose evidence of wrongdoing; in fact, quite the opposite. He put at risk national security and people's lives to undermine a critic. He was trying to punish former Ambassador Joseph Wilson by outing his wife. Libby was leaking, not whistle-blowing. His disclosure to the media had no intrinsic public value whatsoever, and he was rightly prosecuted and convicted.

    The common denominator of whistle-blowers is the same: They disclose information of significant public importance that reveals illegal, unconstitutional or dangerous conduct, often at the highest levels of government. The government should not be allowed to hide illegal conduct under official-sounding labels such as "classified," "privileged" or "state secrets," which confer an aura of legitimacy on alleged crimes, and whistle-blowers should not be prosecuted.

    My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

    by Jesselyn Radack on Mon May 20, 2013 at 09:32:17 AM PDT

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    •  I agree with this completely, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      virginislandsguy, grover, native, duhban

      but it's not a concept that applies itself.  Both terms are too charged to be of much use.   A disclosure is either in violation of an existing statute, or not; and it's either justified in the public interest, or no; or somewhere along ta continuum.  The Pentagon Papers case protects the press from prior restraints, but it does so at the suggestion that the government adopt internal checks to prevent unwanted disclosures, and a plurality were open to after the fact prosecutions in certain circumstances (since narrowed).  The above analysis, however, conflates a Constitutional objection with a policy one, even though the Constitutional issues are not that strong and the policy issues are ambiguous, based on the circumstances of each particular leak.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Mon May 20, 2013 at 10:01:53 AM PDT

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    •  Stephen Kim's website, that you link to (0+ / 0-)

      states that it is a "leak" case.

      the case against Stephen Kim seems to be based on a prosecutor’s theory that Stephen talked to someone in the media about a topic of current events and – in that one and only conversation – disclosed classified information. It is a “leak” case. Along with many who have commented, we think an unfounded one. [link]

      Thirteen men can't tell The People what is Constitutional and what isn't

      Conservative "constitutional scholar" referring to SCOTUS

      by jam on Mon May 20, 2013 at 01:32:17 PM PDT

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