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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scared and Silent: Censoring the Truth Under Obama

Scared and Silent: Censoring the Truth Under Obama

By Jemima Pierre
Black Agenda Report
August 29, 2012

Legacies are built around what is known about a presidency.

However, President Obama is amassing a legacy of secrets kept
and whistleblowers punished.

The Obama administration has been after Wikileaks since that
organization released classified military reports and diplomatic
cables showing evidence of US war crimes in Iraq.

This past weekend, while giving a televised speech from the
balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange
directed a segment of his comments towards US president
Barack Obama.

Assange demanded that the Obama administration stop its
unprecedented “war on whistleblowers” – a war in which
Assange himself has been cast as an enemy.

Indeed, Assange had been granted political asylum by Ecuadoran
President, Rafael Correa in an attempt to prevent his extradition
to the US, and his supporters are rightly worried that the US
government is gunning to punish the man responsible for one
of the greatest release of classified information in history.

One doesn’t have to dismiss the serious rape allegations against
Assange, or agree with his bizarre libertarian politics, to recognize
the truth in his claim of a US witch-hunt.

The Obama administration has been after Wikileaks since that
organization released classified military reports and diplomatic
cables showing evidence of US war crimes in Iraq, and that
verified its corrupt imperialist actions around the world.

But the Assange stand off provides one more example of the rogue
nature of the Obama administration.

This administration has punished so-called whistleblowers – those
who reveal certain illegal actions by US government agencies –
more than any other in US history.

It has used the obscure Espionage Act, a WWI law meant to go after
spies, more than all other presidential administrations combined.

Similar to George W. Bush, the Obama administration has also been
over-classifying documents that deal with US torture, corruption,
and imperial misadventures, making it much easier to label and
charge so-called enemies of the state.

This is where Assange and Wikileaks come in.

In retaliation, Obama’s administration has gone after both Julian
Assange, the editor of Wikileaks, and Bradley Manning, 24 year old
US army intelligence analyst who is accused of releasing Wikileaks’s
trove of classified information, including the “Collateral Murder”
video of the US military slaughter of Iraqis, two of whom were
Reuters journalists.

For that allegation, Bradley Manning, who has yet to be convicted
of a crime, has spent more than 800 days in military prison,
relentlessly tortured and kept in inhumane conditions.

He is subject to intensive solitary confinement 23 hours a day,
denied a pillow and sheets for his bed, barred from accessing
news events, and subject to extreme sensory deprivation.

But while most people (or, I hope, some people) may be aware of
Assange and Manning, they are probably not familiar with the cases
of other “whistleblowers,” such as John Kiriakou or Thomas Drake.

Kiriakou is a former CIA agent who was indicted in April and
charged under the Espionage Act for allegedly releasing classified
information to journalists.

Kiriakou exposed and assailed the torture technique of “enhanced
interrogation” (otherwise known as waterboarding).

It is this critique of waterboarding, his defense argues, that has
earned him the wrath of the US government.

Thomas Drake is a former National Security Agency (NSA) official
who was also charged under the Espionage Act for criticizing the
agency’s wasteful use of taxpayer money on useless intelligence
gathering.

He complained that NSA’s mismanagement did not allow it to
catch the 2001 September 11th plot, and led it to spend more
than a billion dollars on a spying program that was eventually
cancelled.

He also questioned the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping.

Drake’s case has received more media attention than the others,
and he recently managed to defeat the government’s espionage
charges.

Yet, with these vindictive – and selective – prosecutions the
Obama administration is sending a clear message: that dissent
will be silenced through blatant verbal, physical, and legal
bullying.

In fact, as Noam Chomsky recently reminded us, Obama, much
more than Bush, has shifted the law towards a culture of political
censorship.

And it is those who blow the whistle who are punished, not those
who commit the crimes.

Consider that no one from the Bush administration has been
punished for torturing prisoners or for warrantless wiretapping,
or that no Wall Street banks or their executives have been
indicted for causing the global financial collapse.

Now, consider the information “leaked” to the New York Times by
senior government officials that glorified Obama’s personal role in
picking names of victims for his “Kill List,” and the access granted
to filmmakers making a movie about the assassination of Osama Bin
Laden.

Thus, those who celebrate the president’s callous murder
directives, and who support the US empire’s misadventures
get a free pass.

What the Obama administration is prosecuting, then, is not leaks,
but information that brings the illegal activities of the US under
scrutiny and that show evidence of a failing – and flailing – empire.

As BAR columnist Margaret Kimberly wrote of the Manning case,
“The enemy is anyone, anywhere who dares to consider revealing
the truth about how this country actually conducts itself around
the world.”

Obama has surpassed Bush not only in the criminal treatment
of those who point out this country’s wrongdoing, but also
in its unmatched violations of the rights of those he governs.

Because along with the persecution and prosecution of
whistleblowers, comes the draconian laws, such as the
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allows
the government to detain and kill its citizens at will,
and a growing and frightening national security apparatus.

These are meant to keep us all in line – scared shitless and silent.


http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/scared-and-silent-
censoring-truth-under-obama

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