Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Scott Horton on Obama's authoritarian "war on whistleblowers"

Human rights attorney Scott Horton reminds us in Obama's War on Whistleblowers No Comment 08/31/2010 that in this regard, the Obama administration really is worse from a liberal and human-rights viewpoint than Bush. That may be partially because in the Valerie Plame case, his administration was using leaks to discredit Joseph Wilson's revelations about his Iraq War lies. But Horton writes:

As a young lawyer, Obama represented a whistleblower; as a presidential candidate, he pledged to "strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government." But as president, Obama has unleashed the most aggressive assault on whistleblowers Washington has ever seen—surpassing even George W. Bush. The latest example comes in a remarkable prosecution of Steven Kim, a well-known scholar of North Korea’s nuclear program.

Like most area experts at the top of the game, Kim does consulting for the State Department. He works for Lawrence Livermore Labs and was on secondment to the State Department at the time of the events in question. Now, however, Kim finds himself under indictment by the Justice Department. His crime? He spoke to Fox News about how the North Koreans were likely to react to proposed sanction measures. Former prosecutor and Johns Hopkins professor Ruth Wedgwood says that the Fox News report "contains completely unremarkable observations about what a country would do if it was sanctioned for its poor behavior. These kinds of observations were well known to anyone paying attention to public sources and ought not be the basis for making someone a federal felon." I couldn’t agree more. [my emphasis]
The Democratic base and the general public should hold Obama accountable to live up to his campaign promise on this. So should the media, but for most of them in the US, that's almost laughable to expect.

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