Shredding the Constitution: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers

Whatever Happened to the First Amendment?


 … by  Dr. Stuart Jeanner Bramhall


Robert Greenwald’s 2015 documentary War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State details the cases of four US whistleblowers who experienced brutal government retaliation after exposing systematic wrongdoing to journalists.

The men profiled are marine Franz Gaye, who broke the story about the Pentagon refusal to replace Humvees with much safer MRAPs in the US occupation of Iraq; NSA senior executive Thomas Drake, who first blew the whistle on illegal NSA mass surveillance; Lockheed-Martin engineer Michael DeKort, who broke the story that Lockheed was supplying the Coast Guard with substandard boats and radios that weren’t waterproof; and Department of Justice lawyer Jim Risen, who first exposed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretaps.

Their stories are interspersed with commentary by iconic whistleblowers Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden (via Internet linkup), as well as the handful of journalists who have been brave enough to publish evidence of government corruption and criminality and members of the Project on Government Oversight and the Project for Government Accountability.

Each of the four whistleblowers went up his workplace chain of command in his agency and exhausted every option for addressing the problem internally. Each was fully aware of the potential consequences of their actions of going to the press. Yet after much soul searching, they saw whistle blowing as a preferable alternative than to colluding in their superiors’ criminality.

Paying the Price

Only Gaye was allowed to resume his career as an active duty marine. DeKort had his Lockheed position cancelled and was blackballed from further work in the defense industry. In addition to losing their jobs, both Drake and Risen experienced financial ruin, spending tens of thousands of dollars fighting felony charges the Obama Justice Department brought against them. Drake was charged under the Espionage Act, even though the information he shared with the Baltimore Sun was unclassified.

After seven years of persecution by the Justice Department, Drake eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor: excessive use of a computer without authorization. The charges against Risen were dropped after four years of legal battles.

The Distinction Between Leaking and Whistle Blowing

The film makes the clear distinction between leaking and whistleblowing. High level Obama administration officials constantly leak classified information to the press with no legal consequences.

Despite his campaign promises to make government more transparent and accountable, Obama has significantly increased government secrecy, as well as prosecuting more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

According to Snowden, the President’s purpose isn’t to make Americans more secure. It’s to protect government agencies and politicians from embarrassment a criminal prosecution.

His crackdown on whistleblowers is also a fundamental violation of the First Amendment. The whole intent of freedom of speech and the press is to ensure citizens’ right to criticize their government without being punished.


photo credit: Snowden 2, SXSW, Austin, TX via photopin (license)

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Posted by on March 26, 2015, With 2162 Reads Filed under Civil Liberties & Freedom, Government & Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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3 Responses to "Shredding the Constitution: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers"

  1. Chandler  March 27, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Always right on target john. So true.

  2. Chandler  March 27, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    An elected “public servant’ who seeks to silence criticism is telling more on themselves than they realize. Why silence criticism? What is it about his incompetent president he doesn’t want to hear? Why does he feel he cannot be criticized? In this nation where the First Amendment he has sworn to “…preserve, protect, and defend…” gives us the privilege to speak freely?
    I always thought that if we ever elected a black president, he or she would work so hard to show the white race they are not supreme. The years of inequality and social injustices, misery, tragedy, and oppression by the white dominated society would be long forgotten if this black president would’ve stepped up and told his white handlers to shove it because this is the first black president’s legacy and he is making sure it is going to be better than any other president ever.
    But he couldn’t. Thus, he must still be under the control of the white dominated handlers perpetuating the same ol’ politics of the white elitists who seek global domination. Who would better want to avoid more domination by the filthy rich white man than a black president? It is why I think I understand now why a black president wants to be part of the domination of mankind even if its his own black fellow man. Oppression and his hatred for this nation is why he has forgotten from where he came. Our guns. Our freedoms. Our Constitution. Ah President Oblunder! That is the Bush approach to We the People.

  3. moneytalks  March 27, 2015 at 4:06 am

    “” wearing silk suits and Italian shoes.”” and all bought from the Kosher Nostra retailers .

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