Who watches the watchmen? Not Congress:
DO THE COMMITTEES that oversee the vast U.S. spying apparatus take intelligence community whistleblowers seriously? Do they earnestly investigate reports of waste, fraud, abuse, professional negligence, or crimes against the Constitution reported by employees or contractors working for agencies like the CIA or NSA? For the last 20 years, the answer has been a resounding “no.”
This article is an excellent read for anybody who thinks Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and other whistleblowers should have gone through “proper channels.” It covers a couple of examples of individuals who did go through “proper channels” only to discover that the government has no interest in voluntarily overseeing itself (shocking, I know). Take William Binney for example:
Enraged that a program they believed could have prevented the 9/11 attacks had been jettisoned, Binney and his colleagues privately approached the House Intelligence Committee. When that failed to produce results, they issued a formal complaint to the Defense Department’s inspector general.
The subsequent investigation validated the allegations of the NSA ThinThread team. But in spite of this vindication, all who had filed the complaint were subsequently investigated by the FBI on bogus charges of leaking classified information. The episode is now the subject of an Office of Special Counsel whistleblower reprisal investigation, involving former NSA senior manager and ThinThread proponent Tom Drake. I have read the Defense Department inspector general report, which is still almost completely classified, and filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking its declassification. The Pentagon has stonewalled my request for more than a year and a half.
Not only were his pleas ignored but Congress even sicced its attack dogs, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), on him. When the response for going through “proper channels” is both being ignored and having men with guns storm your home early in the morning, which is exactly what the FBI did, and hold your family at gunpoint the message is quite clear, Congress doesn’t want any of the State’s dirty laundry being aired.
Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden aren’t criminals, they’re products of a government that both sweeps its illegal activities under the rug and viciously attacks anybody who tries to raise an alarm. They both did what was necessary to bring attention to some really nasty government programs. Instead of calling them traitors why not put the blame where it belongs with Congress? Because they’re supposedly the watchmen but they’re not only failing to do their job but they’re also attacking anybody who tries to help them do their job.