Do the threats facing whistleblowers under Obama’s presidency mean Americans know less about what their government does?
This week: A Listening Post special – Whistleblowing and the US media.
On the campaign trail four years ago, US presidential candidate Barack Obama shared his views on whistleblowers. He said: “Often the best source of information about waste, fraud and abuse in government is a government employee committed to public integrity, willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism … should be encouraged rather than stifled.”
As president, the reality has been very different. During his first term in office, six whistleblowers have been charged under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information. That is twice as many as all previous presidents combined.
The threat facing whistleblowers has implications in many areas, including defence, intelligence and national security. And then there is the impact it is having on the US media: In a digital age, where electronic paper trails are hard to hide, journalists are no longer able to guarantee their sources’ anonymity. And if the sources dry up, so do the stories and the American people are left knowing less and less about what their government is doing.
In the first half of this full edition special, we blow the whistle on President Obama’s America.
Jesselyn Radack is a lawyer who worked as an ethics adviser for the US Department of Justice. In 2001, Radack revealed that the FBI questioned John Walker Lindh – ‘the American Taliban’ – illegally and that his so-called confession might not stand up in a court of law. Radack was heavily criticised and became the target of a Federal criminal ‘leak investigation’. After a year she resigned.
In the second half of the show, Radack talks to us about the impact whistleblowing has had on US journalism and what news organisations are doing about it.
Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.
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