A circulated video has caught the attention of some, not because it originated from a broadcast network, it’s because of what was said and the reaction by those firmly entrenched in status quo.
The divide and conquer, while increasing financial burdens, establishing more restrictive laws, and security protocols designed to work against the citizen has been an ongoing process in the United States for many years. Protections guaranteed by the foundational documents of this country have been circumvented, criticized and word-smithed to define a paradigm of a country whose government is progressing toward more central authority and autonomy.
Recent criticism of the performance by government officials is usually relegated to blaming the other party for the problem or dismissing someone that dares not rat out the true owners of the problem for fear of losing their cushy retirement package and a chance to stay in the game. Each side of the sad truth has continually promised solutions to problems they either have created or made worse through legislative or executive action. Almost all of it was then rubber stamped by a court system firmly established in navigation around Constitutional law in favor of increasing federal or business interest.
Sadly, the public has made the problem worse by assuming the information fed to them by the status quo media or officials who have had to keep their heads down for fear of reprisal. Those individuals who were in a position to know the true story were often suppressed. Those willing to go public with information were often labeled, disgraced, terminated by employer and in some cases imprisoned. What’s even more sad is the 4th branch of government (the press), not really a branch but a stakeholder none the less, has decided to join what they consider the winning (at least more powerful) team in order for them to gain access and stay fast friends with the powers in marble halls.
How do you get fired from Fox News? – Austin Petersen • 12 Nov 2013 Fox News.
How do you become a traitor when the government lies and the individual is telling the truth? – Edward Snowden Interview with NBC.
You have to credit NBC news for going after the story and interviewing Edward Snowden.
• Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (1933) – testified in the U.S. House of Representatives, business leaders had plotted a coup d’état against the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Butler also wrote a book, “War is a Racket”, detailing his alleged misuse as a Marine in protection of private corporations, business & bank interests in South America. These were known as the ‘Banana Wars’. He compared these activities with Al Capone-style mob hits on behalf of American corporations and their respective business interests rather than furthering democracy.
• Peter Buxtun U.S. Public Health Service (1966) – exposed the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment; an infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural Black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government.
• Daniel Ellsberg U.S. State Dept. (1971) – a military analyst who, along with Anthony Russo, leaked the Pentagon Papers, a secret account of the Vietnam War to The New York Times. The Pentagon Papers revealed government efforts to prevent the publication of classified information that exposed practices of deception by previous administrations, and contributed to the erosion of public support for the war.
• Perry Fellwock National Security Agency (1971) – former NSA analyst who revealed the existence of the NSA and its worldwide covert surveillance network. The U.S. Senate Church Committee introduced legislation to stop NSA spying on American citizens. (Too bad that didn’t last)
• W. Mark Felt (1972) Federal Bureau of Investigation – Only known by the name “Deep Throat”, Associate Director of the FBI, he leaked information about President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal.
• A. Ernest Fitzgerald (1973) U.S. State Dept. of Defense – initially fired by revealing severe cost over-runs in government defense contracts, he was re-hired after years of litigation against him. He later disclosed in the 1980’s after re-hire about the Air Force was charged $400 for hammers and $600 per toilet seat.
• Karen Silkwood (1974) Kerr-McGee – revealed safety problems at nuclear power plants, Silkwood became an activist in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union in order to protest health and safety issues. She testified to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission of her concerns. The 1983 film Silkwood is an account of this story.
• Frank Snepp (1977) Central Intelligence Agency – published Decent Interval in 1977 about Operation Frequent Wind and the failures of the CIA and other American entities to properly prepare for the Fall of Saigon. Although he redacted all names, methods, and sources from the book, after it was published, CIA Director Stansfield Turner had Snepp successfully prosecuted for breach of contract for violating his non-disclosure agreement. Snepp lost all income, including royalties, from publication of the book, this verdict was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. This set a negative precedent for future government employees testifying before Congress.
• Jeffrey Wigand (1996) Brown & Williamson – fired from his position as vice president of research and development at tobacco company Brown & Williamson. On February 4, 1996, he stated on CBS program 60 Minutes, the company intentionally manipulated the level of nicotine in cigarette smoke to addict smokers. Wigand claims that he was subsequently harassed and received anonymous death threats. He was portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 1999 film The Insider.
• Gary Webb (1996) Central Intelligence Agency – Webb’s “Dark Alliance,” was a three-part investigative series alleging Nicaraguan drug traffickers sold and distributed crack cocaine in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Those drug profits were used to fund the CIA-supported Nicaraguan Contras. Webb never claimed the CIA directly aided drug dealers to raise money for the Contras, but he did document the CIA was aware of the cocaine transactions and the large shipments of cocaine by Contra personnel into the U.S. In 2004, Webb was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head, which the coroner’s office judged a suicide.
• Christoph Meili (1997) UBS – discovered while a night guard at a Swiss bank, his employer was destroying records of savings by Holocaust victims, which the bank was required to return to heirs of the victims. After the Swiss authorities sought to arrest Meili, he was given political asylum in the United States.
• Julia Davis (2004) U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security – reported a breach of national security at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on 4 July 2004, related to the admission of 23 improperly-processed subjects from terrorist countries into the U.S. via the land border with Mexico.In retaliation for her report to the FBI (JTTF), Julia Davis endured two malicious prosecutions, two false imprisonments, 54 investigations, years of warrant-less surveillance and a Blackhawk helicopter raid of her home by the Department of Homeland Security. Files found within Osama Bin Laden’s compound in 2011 confirmed that 4 July/Independence Day was in fact a date of planned terrorist attacks on the United States, confirming the official reports to the FBI/JTTF by Julia Davis’. These reports have been closed with “no action” and without any investigation.
• Russ Tice (2005) U.S. government – an intelligence analyst for the NSA, the U.S. Air Force, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Tice first approached Congress and eventually the media about the warrant-less surveillance of the US population by the NSA. Tice was a major source for the 2005 New York Times exposé and spoke out widely following subsequent disclosures by other NSA whistle-blowers.
• Thomas Andrews Drake (2005-2011) – analyst and in management for the NSA. He blew the whistle on the NSA’s Trailblazer project which he felt was a violation of the Fourth Amendment and other laws and regulations. He contacted The Baltimore Sun. April 2010, Drake was indicted by a grand jury on various charges, including obstructing justice and making false statements. After the May 22, 2011 broadcast of a 60 Minutes episode on the Drake case, the government dropped all of the charges against Drake and agreed not to seek any jail time in return for Drake’s agreement to plead guilty to a misdemeanor of misusing the agency’s computer system. Drake was sentenced to one year of probation and community service.
• Bunnatine “Bunny” H. Greenhouse (2005) Halliburton – Former chief civilian contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, exposing illegal no-bid contracts for reconstruction in Iraq by a Halliburton subsidiary.
• Brad Birkenfeld (2005-2009) UBS – a former American banker working for UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank. The first person who exposed what has become a multi-billion dollar international tax fraud scandal over Swiss private banking. He voluntary cooperated with the U.S. government, registering as an IRS whistle-blower. Birkenfeld was rewarded for his efforts by becoming the only U.S. citizen to be sentenced to prison as a result of the scandal.
• Thomas Tamm (2005) U.S. Department of Justice – while working as an attorney for the DOJ’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, informed The New York Times which became a 2005 exposé on mass warrantless surveillance. His home was raided in 2007 during FBI investigation of the leaks and he began to openly speak out publicly in 2008.
• Mark Klein (2006) NSA – communications technician for AT&T who revealed the details of the secret 2003 construction of a monitoring facility in Room 641A of 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco, the site of a large SBC phone building, 3 floors are occupied by AT&T. The facility is alleged to be one of several operated by the National Security Agency as part of the warrantless surveillance undertaken by the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
• Cate Jenkins (2006) U.S. EPA – came forward with information concerning the dust breathed by workers and emergency responders from the 9/11 attack. Ignored from within the EPA she came forward with the information to the N.Y. Times in 2006. On a CBS interview in 2009 she claimed the EPA lied to cover up the danger of the dust which caused chemical burns in the lungs of responders, debilitating illnesses in many and susbsequent fatalities, all of which were preventable if they were informed and given the necessary protective equipment. Jenkins claims that the EPA has been misleading about evidence of debris inhalation hazards since the 1980s. She was fired and in 2012 successfully sued for reinstatement but was terminated again in 2013.
• Prosecuting Wall Street – CBS 60 Minutes (14 minute video linked)
• Richard M. Bowen III (2006-2007) Citigroup – starting in June 2006, Senior Vice President Richard M. Bowen III, the chief underwriter of Citigroup’s Consumer Lending Group, began warning the board of directors about the extreme risks being taken on by the mortgage operation that could potentially result in massive losses. When Bowen first blew the whistle in 2006, 60% of the mortgages were defective. The defective mortgages increased to 80% of the volume throughout 2007. Many were not only defective, they were fraudulent. Bowen attempted to spur the board into action via weekly reportsexplaining the bank was violating the Sarbannes-Oxley Act. On November 3rd 2007, Bowen emailed Citigroup Chairman Robert Rubin and the bank’s chief financial officer, chief auditor and the chief risk management officer to expose the risk and potential losses, and claiming that the group’s internal controls had broken down. He requested an outside investigation of his business unit that eventually confirmed his charges. In retaliation, Citigroup stripped Bowen of most of his responsibilities and informed him that his physical presence was no longer required at the bank.
• John Kiriakou (2007) CIA – in an interview to ABC News on December 10, CIA officer Kiriakou disclosed the agency waterboarded detainees and that constituted torture. He was convicted of releasing classified information and sentenced, on January 25, 2013, to 30 months imprisonment. Having served the first months of his service he wrote an open letter describing the inhuman circumstances at the correction facility.
• Cathy Harris (2009) U.S. Customs Service – a former U.S. Customs Service agent, she wrote a book about rampant racial profiling against Black travellers while working at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. In Harris’s book, “Flying While Black: A Whistleblower’s Story”, she personally observed numerous incidents of Black travellers being stopped, frisked, body-cavity-searched, detained for hours at local hospitals, forced to take laxatives, bowel-monitored and subjected to public and private racist humiliation. The book also details her allegations of mismanagement, abuses of authority, prohibited personnel practices, waste, fraud, violation of laws, rules and regulations, corruption, nepotism, cronyism, favoritism, workplace violence, racial and sexual harassment, sexism, intimidation, on and off the job stalking, etc.
• Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning (2010) United States Army – US Army intelligence analyst who released the largest set of classified documents ever, mostly published by WikiLeaks and their media partners. The material included videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan; 250,000 United States diplomatic cables; and 500,000 army reports that came to be known as the Iraq War logs and Afghan War logs. Among the many documents released, it also exposed the killing of civilians by private military contractors. Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act and other offenses and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
• Samy Kamkar (2010-2011) Apple, Microsoft, and Google Computer technical-strategist who exposed the illicit, global mobile phone tracking of all users, regardless of GPS or Location Services settings, on the Apple iPhone, Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone mobile devices, and their transmission of GPS and Wi-Fi information to their parent companies, which led to a series of class-action lawsuits and a privacy hearing on Capitol Hill.
• Julian Assange (2006-2012) – begining as early as 1987, Assange as a teenager began a continuous effort to use his computer savvy to electronically break into private and government related organizations. These were the days of acoustic coupled modems and very poor remote security. In September 1991, he was discovered hacking into the Melbourne master terminal of Nortel Telecommunications of Canada. He was found guilty of 31 counts of hacking along with related crimes and in December 1996, he pleaded guilty to 25 charges and was ordered to pay a relatively small fine due to his age and background. In 1993, Assange gave technical advice to the Victoria Police Child Exploitation Unit and assisted with prosecutions. In the same year he was involved in starting one of the first public internet service providers in Australia. Continuing his life of contradiction between commercial related activity and the investigation of primarily government entities he starts a domain called leaks.org. He goes on to publicize a patent granted to the National Security Agency in August 1999 for voice-data harvesting technology. He proclaims, “This patent should worry people. Everyone’s overseas phone calls are or may soon be tapped, transcribed and archived in the bowels of an unaccountable foreign spy agency.” “The Internet, our greatest tool for emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen“. After his study at the University of Melbourne, Assange and others established WikiLeaks in 2006. Assange became a member of the organization’s advisory board and the editor-in-chief. Going forward he was continuously on the move, spending time in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, France, and Germany (2007–2008); Austria, Spain, Malaysia, and Denmark (2009); and Iceland, the United States, Norway, Australia, Belgium, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (2010). He worked to develop the organization’s infrastructure, promote its activities at conferences and through the media, and further his editorial work.
WikiLeaks posted large amounts of material exposing government and corporate wrongdoing between 2006 and 2009, attracting various degrees of publicity, but when WikiLeaks began publishing material supplied by Chelsea Manning, the public & media began to pay attention. Amnesty International and other human rights groups leveled criticism for failing to remove all identifying information from the Afghanistan war logs. It took greater care with the Iraq war logs, and set out to do the same with diplomatic cables until they became available fully unredacted on-line. WikiLeaks decided on September 1, 2011 to publish 251,287 unedited documents after getting the go-ahead from his Twitter followers. This increased his exposure and official criticism. Never the less he received journalism related awards in 2010 & books about him in 2011.
Assange was taken into custody in London on December 7, 2010 under a European Arrest Warrant issued on November 18th. He was released on bail the following week. At first, Assange worked within the legal system concerning allegations of sexual offenses, sexual molestation, and one count of lesser-degree rape allegedly committed against two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. The allegations relate to “non-consensual behavior within consensual sexual encounters.” Assange appealed against the European Arrest Warrant, but this was rejected and upheld by subsequent court hearings. Eventually after exhausting all legal options, he sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange said he would go to Sweden if provided with a diplomatic guarantee that he would not be turned over to the U.S. Lawyer David Allen Green responded, while Assange was less likely to be extradited from Sweden than from the United Kingdom, Sweden could not provide such a guarantee under its own or international law. Officers of the Metropolitan Police were stationed outside the building to arrest him should he try to leave. The cost of this operation has been stated to be in excess of $4.5 million. Those individuals posting bail on his behalf had to forfeit in excess of $300 thousand.
In November 2010, U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder said there was “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” into WikiLeaks. A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, was held with no public record of its deliberations. In August 2012, U.S. government officials were reported to be “divided over the wisdom of prosecuting Assange,” and to have suggested that “the likelihood of U.S. criminal charges against him is probably declining rather than growing,” but in June 2013 the Department of Justice confirmed that investigations were ongoing but declined adding any details. By November 2013, officials were saying the department had “all but concluded” that it would not bring a case against Assange.
• David P. Weber (2013) U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission – an attorney and Certified Fraud Examiner, was the assistant inspector general of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He learned of misconduct in the Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford investigations, and of suspected hacking by a unit of the Chinese military. He insisted that agency management report the misconduct and hacking to Congressional Oversight Committees, but instead was terminated for supposedly unrelated reasons. Shortly after his lawsuit became public, news stories broke that the People’s Liberation Army compromised information technology at 160 U.S. corporations and government agencies.
• Edward Snowden (2013) Booz Allen Hamilton contractor for NSA -Snowden released classified material on top-secret NSA programs including the PRISM surveillance program to The Guardian and The Washington Post in June 2013.
[Sources for this information primarily from Wikipedia and various news agencies. Those news agencies are credited when linked]