It’s truly amazing how many stories involving whistle-blowers have come out during the last few months of the Obama Administration. First there was Greg Smith’s op-ed in the New York Times condemning the culture of greed that has enveloped Goldman Sachs which has clearly rocked the establishment. Then there was the somewhat questionable anonymous writer who claimed to be an employee for JP Morgan. He pointed to the manipulation of silver and gold in the commodities market, an offense for which Morgan has long been suspected.
Now we have two new whistleblowers. The first is Lan T. Pham who recently gave her expanded story to Zero Hedge. She claims to have been fired from her position at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for “sharing pessimistic outlooks for the banking and housing sectors in 2010.” Specifically, Pham said she was reprimanded for predicting that the ongoing mortgage fraud would damage the banking sector and housing markets.
Here, she describes her final day at the CBO:
It has been suggested to not mention these things in polite conversation, but I admit there were oddities following CBO’s termination…
I returned to my office to make a phone call. Everyone had left, but there was a silhouette of a man standing in the dark in an office across the courtyard watching me during the 15-20 minute phone call.
Later, I came home to find some papers had been moved and could no longer find some important documents pertaining to this case. I attempted to retrieve these documents from my office at CBO, but the power to my office was shut down precisely as the documents from my computer were about to be e-mailed to me; the entire floor and building were unaffected.
At about 3 a.m. during a week day, there was sudden a loud crash into my front door followed by complete silence. Perhaps it was just a complimentary early wake-up call.
The other whistleblower, Peter Van Buren is (or was) a member of the state department and was responsible for overseeing several projects related to the Iraq reconstruction. He wrote a book titled We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. Van Buren is the only person in US history ever to write a book critical of the State Department while still employed there. The Washington Post reports that he is now being prosecuted for revealing classified information and (you’ll love this) for linking to Wikileaks on his personal blog.
But the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowers is nothing new. Going back a little further to January of this year, the New York Times reports the Justice Department charged former CIA official John Kiriakou under the draconian World War I era Espionage Act for passing on classified information to journalists about the administration’s illegal water-boarding practices.
Going back further to 2010, Thomas Drake, a former senior official at National Security Agency, was also charged under the Espionage Act for “mishandling documents.” Rather, he states, he was prosecuted for his criticism of the Trailblazer Project, an allegedly illegal domestic spying project. If convicted, he could have served up to 35 years in prison.
He was later cleared of the most serious charges after he and a colleague refused a plea-bargain, but his actions were not without sacrifice. For four years his life was under great duress. He was branded a traitor, lost his job and pension and was reduced to working at an Apple store. All this by an administration that once promised to be the “most transparent administration in history.”
Here is a speech Drake gave upon accepting the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence.
UPDATE: Perhaps most amazingly, the Obama administration a few days ago claimed that no one was prosecuted for leaking information on the government’s illegal warrentless wiretaps, prompting Drake to reply:
“I was prosecuted for making those disclosures both within and without the government! They chose to criminalize my exposure and disclosure of government wrongdoing and illegalities (including the NSA completing violating the 4th Amendment when it turned the US into the equivalent of a foreign nation through blanket driftnet electronic surveillance), and then turned the truth of my whistleblowing into treason and marked me as a traitor to my country.”
UPDATE 2: From TruthDig, Thomas Drake has some advice to his fellow whistleblowers — you’d better lawyer up.