Inside Story Americas

US government department under scrutiny?

We discuss the significant allegations made by a whistleblower about the culture of cover ups in the state department.

Last Modified: 14 Jun 2013 15:00
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The National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US surveillance state have dominated headlines locally and internationally in the past week.

With all of the whistleblowing going on we're hearing that we need this politics of lack of transparency in the state department and elsewhere, to protect our security, but the result is that people are being killed and we are less and less democratic as a country, because we don't have any open info about what's going on.

Adrienne Pine, professor of anthropology at American University

This week another whistleblower, Aurelia Fedenisn, made some significant allegations about the culture of cover ups at the US state department after turning over documents to a Republican senator.

She alleged that senior state department officials called off a number of investigations into serious misconduct by the department's employees. Moreover, the subsequent investigation into the alleged cover ups was itself subject to a cover up.

Her allegations have created lurid headlines in the US, with suggestions that an ambassador and members of Hillary Clinton's security team hired prostitutes.

She also alleges that investigations into a drug ring supplying contractors at the US embassy in Baghdad were quashed.

Also among these revelations from the leak of state department memos is that an investigation into the killing of four people in Honduras was blocked. The dead were said to include two women, one of whom was pregnant, and a 14 year old boy, all shot from state department helicopters while travelling on a boat carrying 16 people near the Honduran village of Ahuas last May.

To discuss the US based allegations, Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, is joined by guests: Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, Russia, India, Israel and Jordan; Jesselyn Radack, the director of homeland security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project; and Mark Zaid, a lawyer who has represented government whistleblowers.

And to discuss the allegations on the killings in Honduras, we are joined by Adrienne Pine, a professor of anthropology at the American University; and Alex Main, a senior associate from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

"After doing this for 20 years and representing national security whistleblowers, I can go through a lot of cases where the system failed miserably, and I can go through cases where the system worked. The issue is that one needs to try to go through the system and act lawfully. One does not just disclose classified information without any authorisation and decide, in their on individual capacity, what's in the best national security interest of the United States."

- Mark Zaid, a lawyer who has represented government whistleblowers



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