National Security

Obama's War on Whistleblowers

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Glenn Greenwald rips into Eric Holder's Justice Department:

Last April, the DOJ served a subpoena on New York Times reporter James Risen, demanding to know his source for a story he published in his 2006 book regarding a "reckless" and horribly botched CIA effort to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program.   That subpoena had originally been served but was then abandoned by the Bush DOJ, but its revitalization by the Obama administration was but one of many steps taken to dramatically expand the war on whistleblowers being waged by the current President, whoran on a platform of "protecting whistleblowers"…

But it's the DOJ's increasing willingness to target journalists as part of this crusade that has now escalated its seriousness.  Last month, the DOJ claimed it had found and arrested Risen's source:  Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who left the agency in 2002 (he now works in the health insurance industry).  As part of Sterling's criminal proceedings, it was revealed yesterday that federal investigators had secretly obtained Risen's bank records, information about his phone and travel activities, and even credit reports to unearth his source…

…what makes this conduct particularly indefensible is how the Obama DOJ is venturing back into the past to dredge up these forgotten episodes.  Sterling hasn't worked for the Government or had a security clearance in more than 8 years.  The alleged leak took place in Bush's first term.  Disclosure resulted in substantial embarrassment for the U.S. but—given the utter failure of the operation—no identifiable national security harm. 

For a President who insists that we must "Look Forward, Not Backward"—when it comes to investigating war crimes by high-level Bush officials—this anti-whistleblower assault reflects not only an obsession on preserving and bolstering the National Security State's secrecy regime, but also an intense fixation on the past.  And increasingly extremist weapons—now including trolling through reporters' banking and phone records—are being wielded to achieve it.