JOHN KIRIAKOU: Memo to Biden — What About the Other Whistleblowers?

Darnella Frazier deserves national commendation. The same goes for Joshua Schulte, Daniel Hale and Darin Jones, all of whom are in dire straits right now.    

George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis, Aug. 17, 2020. (Fibonacci Blue, Flickr,CC BY 2.0)

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

Darnella Frazier is a whistleblower.  She’s an important one.  Few Americans will know her name, but we should all be thanking her.

Darnella is the 17-year-old who took the video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd.  That video has become the de facto official record of Floyd’s death.  Where would we be without it? 

The Minneapolis Police Department’s initial account was entitled, “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.”  It said that police had been called to a Chicago Avenue South address for a “forgery in progress,” that Floyd “appeared to be under the influence,” and that he was “detained without the use of any weapons.”  Almost every word in that statement was a lie, of course.  The weapon used was Derek Chauvin’s knee.  And thanks to Darnella Frazier, we know the truth.

There’s a legal definition of whistleblowing, which many of you may be tired of seeing me write, but which nonetheless bears repeating.  That definition is “bringing to light any evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, or threats to the public health or public safety.”  That’s exactly what Darnella Frazier did, and because of that, we are now — finally — debating national police reform in Congress.

In the hours after the jury’s conviction of Derek Chauvin, President Joe Biden telephoned the Floyd family to offer his support.  He had said earlier in the day that he was hoping for the “right verdict.”  Isn’t that nice?  And it’s all because of Darnella Frazier’s whistleblowing. 

Biden, though, isn’t so responsive to the revelations of other whistleblowers, many of whom are in dire straits right now.  Biden can set himself apart from his recent predecessors by supporting the work of whistleblowers, especially national security whistleblowers.  He could start with the following people.  But he likely won’t.

Joshua Schulte & ‘Vault 7’   

Former CIA technical officer Joshua Schulte, who is alleged to have released to WikiLeak sinformation known as “Vault 7,” which showed that the CIA was able to hijack the computers in our cars to cause us to drive into trees or off cliffs, and was able to take over our smart TVs to turn them into eavesdropping devices.

Schulte was tried on nearly a dozen espionage charges in federal court in New York last year.  He was found guilty of two more minor counts and his jury hung on all other charges.  Instead of releasing him pending retrial, though, the judge ordered that Schulte be held at the notorious Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where FBI agents from the Biden Justice Department recently raided his cell to search for additional evidence to strengthen their case against him. He was denied access to a laptop computer to assist with his own defense, and his complaints of a fully-lighted cell 24 hours a day and lack of heat were rejected. 

Schulte complained further that he was being denied access to, and visitation from, his family.  The judge forced the Justice Department to reverse that policy.  Schulte still faces the prospect of spending the rest of his natural life in prison.  And Biden’s Justice Department is pulling out the stops to make sure that happens.

Daniel Hale & Killer Drones 

Daniel Hale at peace protests in undated photo. (DIY Roots Action website)

Drone whistleblower Daniel Hale finds himself in a similar position.  Hale last month decided to plead guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act for telling an Intercept journalist that the U.S. was using drones to kill civilians, including women, children, and elderly people, in violation of both U.S. and international law. 

The Trump administration went after Hale hard, and many of us thought that the Biden Justice Department would back off his prosecution.  But that has not been the case.  Hale will be sentenced on July 13.  He faces up to 10 years in prison.  And he still has additional charges to contend with.

Darin Jones & FBI Contracts 

FBI whistleblower and former supervisory contract specialist Darin Jones is yet another example.  He told his superiors that Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) had been awarded a $40 million contract improperly because a former FBI official with responsibility for granting the contract then was hired as a consultant at CSC. 

Jones maintained that this was a violation of the Procurement Integrity Act. He made seven other disclosures alleging financial improprieties at the FBI, and he was promptly fired for his whistleblowing.  Sen. Chuck Grassley, has gone to bat repeatedly for Jones and has demanded that the FBI reinstate him and pay him all back pay owed to him since his firing. The FBI has ignored him.

That’s where we come back to Biden.  He certainly knows these cases.  He was a senator for 36 years.  He was chairman of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He was vice president for eight years.  He understands what is involved in malfeasance in the intelligence community and the foreign policy apparatus. 

He can fix it. 

Just don’t hold your breath that he will, nice comments to the Floyd family and about Darnella Frazier notwithstanding.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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10 comments for “JOHN KIRIAKOU: Memo to Biden — What About the Other Whistleblowers?

  1. April 24, 2021 at 14:01

    Re: John Kiriakou
    Most importantly, thank you for having the courage and integrity to honor your oath to uphold our Constitution, especially in the face of a corrupt cabal of those who chose to violate their own oath.
    It is indeed also very important to make public the names of all those, much like yourself, who, while more obscure, have also been persecuted and prosecuted by the very government that they are attempting to assist in remaining within the constraints of its own Constitution and laws. The mentioning of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, in the context of comments to your appeal, is completely appropriate and representative of equally inappropriate and unethical treatment by the U.S. government.
    As Usual,

  2. Dave
    April 23, 2021 at 18:36

    Whistleblowing to enforce a narrative – ok, whether its entirely fact or not.
    Whistleblowing to expose a false narrative – bad, especially when its entirely fact based.

  3. Daniel
    April 23, 2021 at 11:35

    Correct. Biden will not correct the violent actions taken against these (or any) whistleblowers because he is a ‘law and order’ pol through and through, always happy and eager to do the bidding of American Imperialism. Why any think we can expect anything different from him is beyond me. He is not the FDR (for all his flaws) that we need. He’s merely the blue face of our corrupt Imperial Bully nation.

    He has kept his 1 campaign promise, though: Nothing Will Fundamentally Change.

  4. TimN
    April 23, 2021 at 09:37

    Quick reminder here, John: BIDEN HAS DEMENTIA. This is not a secret, though many people seem to think it’s okay. Cracker Joe, long before the dementia set in, was rightwing, racist, and a reactionary war monger. And then there’s the constant lying and bragging and exaggerating. He was exalted by the Dem status quo who KNEW of his, um, shortcomings, including the raging dementia. That means anything old Joe says is either utter nonsense (like his recent remarks at the climate summit), or ID politicking. Another likely demented Dem leader, the second most powerful politician in the Party (not VP Harris, who is just for show), Nancy Pelosi, recently summed up the vile, vacuous, and deranged politics of her Party with her remarks on the Chauvin trial. Bad, bad, very bad, and likely to get worse.

  5. Carol Kennedy
    April 23, 2021 at 09:14

    And how about Julian Assange, the biggest whistle-blower of all?

    Also, Biden should not be making statements like that during a trial. That is not appropriate in our system of “justice”. Normally jurors are sequestered, and politicians are not supposed to be making influential comments before the trial is over.
    Just saying.

      April 23, 2021 at 10:07

      Julian Assange is not a whistleblower. He is a journalist and a publisher. His sources are whistleblowers.

      • Anne
        April 23, 2021 at 12:55

        So true, CN, and yet there he remains in solitary confinement or the equivalent in the UK’s version of a SuperMax, and all for making available to the world those things that the west (in particular) want kept secret, especially their war crimes.

        We keep hearing about the “terrible” treatment of Navalny – but he appears to have access to whomsoever he wishes. (Let’s ignore that absolutely idiotic “poisoning” charade, concocted no doubt by such as MI6/CIA and on to which he happily signed (some Russian patriot) – but never a word about the utterly inhumane (deliberate) treatment of Assange, which continues, of course, even after that puppet of a judge said he shouldn’t be extradited for “humane” reasons (only) because, in my opinion, the US and UK want him to commit suicide, be destroyed by the solitary…

        Neither the BBC World Service nor NPR has EVER mentioned the two Human Rights’ abuse reports that Nils Melzer, the UN Rapporteur for Human Rights, produced after having gone to see Mr Assange and his condition, and the conditions under which he is held…

        And then we, the US-UK, point a finger at China (based on zero reputable evidence)?!? (And that doesn’t even raise my usuals: the Chagos Islanders, Guantanamo and its kindred, Iraq, Libya, Yemen………..goes on and on.)

      • Philip Reed
        April 23, 2021 at 13:03

        Technically you’re correct. But I’m sure you get her drift. Also not mentioned is Edward Snowden. I assume perhaps he didn’t mention Snowden because he’s not serving time. Although being in purgatory in Russia is a sentence in itself.

      • Philip Reed
        April 23, 2021 at 13:41

        Just to be clear Ms. Frazier’s wasn’t the lynchpin piece of evidence. It certainly was strong supplementary evidence. The officers own body cams were more revealing of the totality on the deadly encounter. Body cams also demonstrate that pressure was applied to Floyd’s shoulder as much as his neck. Both do contribute to positional asphyxia no question. Chauvin should have recognized the signs early on in that restraint. Simply sitting him up against the cruiser while waiting for the ambulance was the obvious action to take. Perhaps the officers should also have ignored his pleas to be removed from the backseat. He was on his back and could have been easily monitored. Unfortunate choices all around.
        John speaks of this incident as an a pivotal moment to commence police reform or as some say to “reimagine “ policing . I would be interested, in some future article he may write, as to what he strongly recommends when considering that reimagining.
        I hope that would include practical, sensible reform. Not some unrealistic notion such as defunding the police.
        In Canada and Britain we have uniform national standards for use of force options for example.You would never get “ experts” as you witnessed in the Chauvin trial saying his force was justified and the other for the prosecution saying it was “ inappropriate “and not justified. You also have far too many police departments that are funded differently and have different levels of training due to mostly insufficient funding. Funding should be equal across the board and supplemented by the State and Federal governments.
        We in Canada fund in this manner creating uniformity in funding and training. The RCMP is a national police service that serves those areas that aren’t policed by the ten provinces. All provincial and municipal police services receive their training at one college for the entire province and all police services are overseen by independent governmental bodies who investigate all police incidents that involve injury or death of all civilians or police.
        We certainly aren’t perfect here but I feel you could consider us as a comparison.
        Finally I would add that America has no moral authority to speak about Russia’s treatment of Navalny in light of John’s revelations.

        • robert e williamson jr
          April 24, 2021 at 00:29

          Schools are underfunded not police departments. That statement is a red herring

          Police departments have been militarized maybe the greatest reason is because too many are former military which has resulted in too many cops wanting to conduct themselves as military special ops operators. They needed to remain in the military not set loose upon the U.S. civilian population.

          Philip by no stretch can the shootings of the unarmed be justified. Especially when it’s in the back.

          You might be better served by watching all the videos available shown at the trial, I did and not limiting yourself to commenting on your observations of one short piece of video, such as your reference to the placement of Chauvin’s knee. For nine minutes and change while being streamed?

          Unfortunate decisions are you serious.

          All and all I would agree that Canada and Britain might have some better ideas, it would not take much to make that the case.

          Last but not least I feel you may have been somewhat confused, “Finally I would add that America has no moral authority to speak about Russia’s treatment of Navalny in light of John’s revelations”.

          Informed Americans know only too well the facts related to what John has to say. I’m assuming that Anne’s comments, Anne, 4-23-29021 @ 12:53, are as an American and that she may have confused your tact.

          Philip when you figure out to prevent the UK and Canada from signing on to assist the Imperialistic government of the U.S. war machine in conducting asinine illegal never ending wars the world over let us know, please. Until then neither the UK or Canada have the moral authority to speak about the treatment of Navalny or an American history making court decision for that matter.

          Moral authority, are you serious?

          Or were you stating a personal opinion not a national policy? I believe that was Anne’s intention. Her comparison of Assange’s predicament compared to Navalny.

          Most enlightened Americans understand that our country is in serious trouble, they also understand why. Never ending wars are a waste of the human treasure that is life, and exceptionalism is a deadly flaw.

          Justin and yourself might want to think about the moral authority the next time the US invites you to a war party.

          Thanks CN

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