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CONTACT: Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA)
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Whistleblower Coleen Rowley on Obama “Transparency”
WASHINGTON - May 21 - COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan at earthlink.net
Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures and was named one of Time Magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.
She said today: “Despite long-time warnings that the Obama administration’s ‘war on whistleblowers’ had become a ‘war on journalists,’ and the government’s admitting, in the course of the Bradley Manning court martial, that it would treat the New York Times the same as WikiLeaks — given the fact that WikiLeaks has been secretly indicted for publishing information pertaining to the U.S. government — the U.S. media has obviously not taken the full First Amendment implications seriously enough. The jarring wake-up call only comes with news of the FBI dragnet investigation targeting several AP reporters’ and editors’ communications in connection with a story about a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen and the revelation that FOX News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen was himself considered a co-conspirator for having aided and abetted a leak of information about North Korea.
“It seems the U.S. has nearly regressed to the Nixon mentality when his Department of Justice sought court orders to stop the printing presses upon 19 different newspapers’ successive attempts to publish the “Pentagon Papers.” In some cases governmental secrecy shields illegal actions and there are numerous examples but in other cases, the drive to ‘shape the message’ through its own tightly controlled press releases, high-level spokespersons and sometimes even through its own system of ‘leaking’ to favored reporters, is simply more secrecy for secrecy’s sake. …
“Excessive governmental secrecy enables and facilitates wrongdoing in many ways (similar to all criminality) and is steeply increasing. According to the Information Security Oversight Office, almost 92 million documents were classified in FY 2011 compared to around 6 million in 1996.
“For instance, the increasing secrecy being employed by the Obama administration to prevent scholarly and judicial review of the Office of Legal Counsel memos that purport to ‘legalize’ its “lethal targeting policies” along with his administration’s creation of due process-free ‘kill lists’ on a global battlefield works in much the same way as the Bush administration’s once hidden series of OLC ‘torture memos.’ Once those OLC ‘torture memos’ were finally made public, they were then used as officials’ ‘golden shield’ to prevent accountability under the notion that officials were just following ‘legal advice.’”
After President Obama received a “Transparency Award” in 2011, Rowley co-drafted a petition of 20 whistleblowers to “Rescind Obama’s ‘Transparency Award’ Now!” The signers included: Former FBI official and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds; Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers; former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern; former Pentagon analyst Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski; and former National Security Agency analyst Russ Tice.
The petition read: “On March 28, 2011, President Obama was given a ‘transparency award’ from five ‘open government’ organizations: OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, the Project on Government Oversight, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and OpenTheGovernment.org. Ironically — and quite likely in response to growing public criticism regarding the Obama administration’s lack of transparency — heads of the five organizations gave their award to Obama in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House.
* “President Obama has not decreased but has dramatically increased governmental secrecy! …
* “There were 544,360 requests for information last year under the Freedom of Information Act to the 35 biggest federal agencies — 41,000 requests more than the year before. Yet the bureaucracy responded to 12,400 fewer requests than the prior year, according to an analysis by the Associated Press. …
* “Ignoring his campaign promise to protect government whistleblowers, Obama’s presidency has amassed the worst record in U.S. history for persecuting, prosecuting and jailing government whistleblowers and truth-tellers. President Obama’s behavior has been in stark contrast to his campaign promises which included live streaming meetings online and so forth, and rewarding whistleblowers. Obama’s Department of Justice is twisting the 1917 Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks — more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. …
* “President Obama has set a powerful and chilling example for potential whistleblowers through the abuse and torture of Bradley Manning, whose guilt he has also publicly stated prior to any trial by his, Obama’s, military subordinates. …”