Some civil liberties groups praised the USA Freedom Act for its modest nips at the Surveillance State, but whistleblowers from inside the U.S. government were more skeptical about the law’s very slight accomplishments, writes Norman Solomon.
Exclusive: President Obama says he welcomes the debate on post-9/11 surveillance of Americans and the world, but that debate was only made meaningful by the disclosures of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was then indicted and sought asylum in Russia, where he just met with some ex-U.S. intelligence officials, including Ray McGovern.
As a Justice Department ethics adviser, Jesselyn Radack objected when U.S. citizen John Walker Lindh (dubbed the “American Taliban” after his capture in Afghanistan) was denied constitutional rights. For her integrity, Radack lost her job, but her courage earned her an award from former intelligence professionals.
On Nov. 21, former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake was honored for his courage in blowing the whistle on the U.S. government’s abuse of its secrecy powers. In his acceptance speech, Drake explained the larger and more frightening context – the loss of American liberty.
In recent decades, information — the lifeblood of democracy — has often been cut off from the American body politic on “national security” grounds or because insiders feel it wouldn’t be “good for the country.” To counter that benighted view, a group of ex-U.S. intelligence officials honors brave whistleblowers, this year Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack.