Once again, a government official is getting tough on a messenger.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is complaining about the publication by the Los Angeles Times of photos of US soldiers posing with corpses and body parts of Afghan insurgents.
Panetta pays lip service to the soldiers’ “improper treatment” and “foolish decisions,” but the Obama administration reportedly complained that publishing the photos would create a backlash against US forces.
Apparently, the Obama administration officials believe the people in Afghanistan don’t know what’s going on in their country while at the same time have access to the Internet and subscriptions to the Los Angeles Times.
Am I the only one to notice a pattern here?
• Bradley Manning releases to Wikileaks and Julian Assange releases to selected newspapers video of an American helicopter gunship firing on a van, on people trying to escape the fan and on people coming to the rescue of wounded people. No word on actions taken against the guys who fired on the van and on the would-be rescuers, but Bradley Manning was stuck in solitary confinement for months and the Obama administration is try to prosecute Assange.
• The Sullivan administration, embarrassed by a protester, persuaded the assembly to outlaw the man’s method of protest, and with no empirical data to back up the claim that lying protest on a downtown sidewalk endangers “public safety.”
• A former diplomat provides convincing evidence that the Bush administration falsely accused Iraq of buying yellowcake uranium from Niger and the administration officials endanger the life of the diplomat’s wife and our country’s national security.
• Four civilian employees at Dover Air Force Base reported mishandling of remains of people killed in war and were either fired or suspended. You can read the story at foxnews.com on January 21, 2012.
• John Hayward reports on possible retaliation against federal agents revealing the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau’s Fast and Furious program of encouraging selling of weapons to narcoterrorists: “Key whistleblower ATF John Dodson was shuffled off to an FBI task force and can’t even get into the ATF building…Other agents found themselves demoted, reassigned and generally floating in career dead zones.” You can read Hayward’s essay at Humanevents.com for November 30, 2011.
• Peter Van Buren, a 23-year Foreign Service Officer, writes in the Feb. 13, 2012 Aljazeera.com that former CIA agent John Kiriakou is one of six government whistleblowers charged by the Obama administration with violating the World War I Espionage Act. (The CIA also reportedly fired Kiriakou’s wife while she was on maternity leave.) That’s double the number charged under the previous Bush administration. Kiriakou’s crime? Telling reporters about waterboarding of suspected al Qaida operatives.
• Van Buren says Thomas Drake told reporters the National Security Agency where he worked spent $1.3 billion for a data collection program that the agency could have done in-house for $3 million. Drake’s home was reportedly raided at gunpoint and he charged the agency with “the politics of personal destruction…cut throat-character assassination, a complete fabrication and frame-up.” Van Buren says Drake’s attorney remarked, “Marriages are strained and spouses’ professional lives suffer as much as their personal lives. Too often, whistleblowers end up broken, blacklisted and bankrupted.”
Again and again, the bureaucrats and politicians don’t get it or don’t want to get it or don’t want to admit it. “It” in this case is the simple principle that if you don’t want people to find out the bad things you are doing, the simplest remedy is this: Don’t do them. The problem is that people convince themselves they will get away with what they are doing because they are in a position of power and are therefore entitled to hide their crimes and punish those who report such crimes.
Maybe the most disturbing aspect of all this is the number of times people will side with the evildoers against those who report the evils. I guess it takes a certain kind of mentality that believes that if the government or the corporation in power does something, it must be all right and if anyone not in power challenges that government or that corporation, that person must be evil.
I’ve personally experienced very mild forms of this particular mind-set, sometimes right on these cyberpages. Now, since I’m self-employed, people can’t get me fired. But when I say things people don’t like, some wanna-be retaliators call me names and accuse me of religious bias and even call me a criminal, while continuing to decline my offer of taking action to turn me in for my “crimes.” Of course, these antics only strengthen my beliefs that I am telling the truth some people don’t want to hear.
That doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is the mentality that readily accepts rewarding crimes and punishing those who report the crimes.
It’s as if people actually believe Richard Nixon was right when he said the government can’t break the law because the government is the law.
It would be extremely naïve to disregard the effects of politics. Whoever blew the whistle on those General Services Administration officials partying at taxpayers’ expense and those Secret Service Agents who paid prostitutes have, to my knowledge, not been retaliated against. Of course, this stuff occurred on President Obama’s watch and the culprits involved can’t claim their parties and hookers were protecting our country’s national security.
Unfortunately, our military and spy agencies can play that "national security" game. They want us to pretend that al Qaida as well as people in other parts of the world, including Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand don’t know about the murders, mutilations, urinating on corpses, Qur’an burning, waterboarding, kidnapping, etc, and reporters shouldn’t be allowed to tell them what they already know. Reporters in these other countries are not subservient to the Obama administration; so just about the only people who don’t know what’s going on are the American people. So, when government officials say they don’t want this information to fall into the hands of the enemy, my question to them is simply this:
Since when did we American people become the enemy?