Sunday, June 13, 2010

simply tuuurrrrrible..., obama crackdown on whistleblowers

NYTimes | The Drake case epitomizes the politically charged debate over secrecy and democracy in a capital where the watchdog press is an institution even older than the spy bureaucracy, and where every White House makes its own calculated disclosures of classified information to reporters.

Steven Aftergood, head of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, who has long tracked the uneasy commerce in secrets between government officials and the press, said Mr. Drake might have fallen afoul of a bipartisan sense in recent years that leaks have gotten out of hand and need to be deterred. By several accounts, Mr. Obama has been outraged by some leaks, too.

“I think this administration, like every other administration, is driven to distraction by leaking,” Mr. Aftergood said. “And Congress wants a few scalps, too. On a bipartisan basis, they want these prosecutions to proceed.”

Though he is charged under the Espionage Act, Mr. Drake appears to be a classic whistle-blower whose goal was to strengthen the N.S.A.’s ability to catch terrorists, not undermine it. His alleged revelations to Ms. Gorman focused not on the highly secret intelligence the security agency gathers but on what he viewed as its mistaken decisions on costly technology programs called Trailblazer, Turbulence and ThinThread.

“The Baltimore Sun stories simply confirmed that the agency was ineptly managed in some respects,” said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian and author of “The Secret Sentry,” a history of the N.S.A. Such revelations hardly damaged national security, Mr. Aid said.