The U.S. Justice Department is prosecuting another whistleblower. According to an indictment by a Baltimore grand jury (reported here by the New York Times), Thomas A. Drake released classified emails showing that the National Security Administration (NSA) wasted billions of taxpayer dollars trying to get computers to collect and sort electronic information. The government is also charging that Drake shredded documents, deleted computer files and lied to investigators to conceal his communications with reporters.
Glenn Greenwald writes in Salon.Com that this prosecution is "one of the worst steps the Obama administration has taken yet." He railed against the Bush administration for protecting officials who engaged in illegal snooping, yet prosecuting those who revealed the illegality. While President Obama decided to "look forward, not backward," this prosecution is a backward step. Greenwald cites the Siobhan Gorman article from the Baltimore Sun reporting that the NSA pursued the "Trailblazer" program when an alternative "Thin Thread" program had privacy protections designed to ensure that the NSA would not eavesdrop on the domestic calls of U.S. citizens. To me, this is another example of the government collecting so many dots that it does not have the resources or talent to connect them. If the government was more respectful of the Fourth Amendment, and collected only that information supported by probable cause of unlawful activity, it would have fewer and better dots to connect.
John Cole compares the Drake prosecution with the non-prosecution of Porter Goss — the CIA Director who authorized the destruction of the torture videos. "The message is clear – you torture people and then destroy the evidence, and you get off without so much as a sternly worded letter. If you are a whistleblower outlining criminal behavior by the government, you get prosecuted."