The Obama Justice Department (on April 15th 2010)*announced that it has secured a ten-felony-count indictment against Thomas Drake, an official with the National Security Agency during the Bush years.
(T)he DOJ alleges "that between approximately February 2006 and November 2007, a newspaper reporter published a series of articles about the NSA," and it claims "Drake served as a source for many of those articles, including articles that contained classified information."
Although the indictment does not specify Drake's leaks, it is highly likely (as Shane also suggests) that it is based on Drake's bringing to the public's attention major failures and cost over-runs with the NSA's spying programs via leaks to The Baltimore Sun.
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The indictment of Thomas Drake has NOTHING to do with the illegality of the Bush warrantless wiretapping program, rather, it has to do with Drake's uncovering of major failures and cost over-runs within the domestic spying program. As Greenwald writes . . .
I used to write postafter post about how warped and dangerous it was that the Bush DOJ was protecting the people who criminally spied on Americans (Bush, Cheney Michael Hayden) while simultaneously threatening to prosecute the whistle-blowers who exposed misconduct. But the Bush DOJ never actually followed through on those menacing threats; no NSA whistle-blowers were indicted during Bush's term (though several were threatened ). It took the election of Barack Obama for that to happen, as his handpicked Assistant Attorney General publicly boasted yesterday of the indictment against Drake.
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Wait, wait, wait! If Obama's DoJ is prosecuting crimes from the Bush era isn't that an act of "Looking backwards, not forward"? ( and yes, revealing state secrets, even if done for the good of the public as whistleblowers do, is still illegal. )
Why doesn't Obama's dictate that we "Look Forward, Not Backward," protect this NSA whistle-blower from prosecution at least as much as the high-level Bush officials who criminally spied on American citizens? Isn't the DOJ's prosecution of Drake the classic case of "Looking Backward," by digging into Bush-era crimes, controversies and disclosures?
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So prosecuting a Bush/Cheney era whistleblower who uncovered waste and incompetence is important enough to "Look backwards on", but not the lies and war crimes that lead us to war in Iraq based on evidence derived from illegal torture?
And what effect will this move by the Obama DoJ have?
As Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Presss, told the NYT today: "The whole point of the prosecution is to have a chilling effect on reporters and sources, and it will."
When the Bush/Cheney administration came down on whistleblowers the left was outraged and loud about it. But now, almost total silence.
Worse, the precedent this sets is pretty clear. As Glenn Greenwald writes . . .
(H)ere you have the Obama DOJ in all its glory: no prosecutions (but rather full-scale immunity extended) for war crimes, torture, and illegal spying. For those crimes, we must Look Forward, Not Backward. But for those poor individuals who courageously blow the whistle on oozing corruption, waste and illegal surveillance by the omnipotent public-private Surveillance State: the full weight of the "justice system" comes crashing down upon them with threats of many years in prison.
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And where is that constructive criticism that is so necessary to "Hold their feet to the fire"? Mind you, this is all the more important when it is the politicians you support that are in power, because we all know that the last thing the Right is going to give Obama is anything constructive.
In an update to the articles quoted above, Greenwald adds . . .
John Cole, proving once again that one can be an enthusiastic Obama admirer without reflexively excusing and justifying everything he does, writes* . . . .
The message is clear- you torture people and then destroy the evidence, and you get off without so much as a sternly worded letter.
If you are a whistle blower outlining criminal behavior by the government,  you get prosecuted.
Cole is referring to the revelation ()* that, once he learned it was done, then-CIA-Director Porter Goss approved of the destruction of CIA interrogation videos (an act which the co-Chairs of the 9/11 Commission said constituted obstruction of justice); the message Cole describes is exactly the one being sent by the Drake prosecution.
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It should be obvious in the face of the conspiracy driven, reality divorced, daily right wing freak out that the only constructive criticism this Administration is going to face is going to have to come from the left.
And as Greenwald speaks of John Cole, that "one can be an enthusiastic Obama admirer without reflexively excusing and justifying everything he does", so goes the left. One can be, as I consider myself, an enthusiastic Obama admirer without excusing all that he does or attacking those who hold legitimate criticism of his policies and actions.
Because without that criticism who do we hold feet to the fire? How do we hold accountable those we support if we can not criticize them in a constructive manner? It is vital, not only to our party, but to our nation, that we hold "feet to the fire" regardless of what party they belong to. The argument that criticism from the left helps the GOP is faulted, especially when that criticism is of the continuation of Bush/Cheney policies, or what seems like a cover up of their crimes, or when the Obama Administration trumps their policies by taking things a step farther than even Bush/Cheney did. I strongly encourage one and all who support Barack Obama and his Administration to also support those who offer constructive criticism of him, as Greenwald does here. Without that reality based accountability, we might as well vote Republican.
And what is there to say when the Obama DoJ offers virtual immunity to Bush/Cheney war criminals while prosecuting corruptiuon uncovering whistleblowers in an effort to intimidate the next round of whistleblowers into silence? I don't know, but one thing is for sure; if Bush/Cheney or McCain/Palin had done this the left would have been outraged.
So why is there silence when our guys step over the line?
I want Obama to succeed, but I and others like me certainly have the right to expect MORE and BETTER from this Administration, and you do too. That is how accountability works.
If we are going to "look backwards", shouldn't we go all the way? Or is this just a case of selective justice? If this is a case of Senior Executive branch officials being "Too Big To Jail" we really haven't got much of a Democracy left, do we?
Because if Thomas Drake goes to jail while we "look backwards", I have some other officials from the 2000-2008 era the Obama Department of Justice should look into.
For more on this subject, and a much more insightful voice than my own on the matter, check out Bush Administration Whistleblower Jesseyln Raddack's article on this subject, titled "Should Leakers Be Prosecuted? The Deafening Silence From Whistleblowers
Follow me on Twitter @JesseLaGreca