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Coleen Rowley

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Whistleblowers: "Rescind Obama's 'Transparency Award' Now!"

Posted: 06/14/11 05:46 PM ET

Over 20 noted whistleblowers have just released a petition calling for rescinding a "Transparency Award" President Obama recently received. The signatories include Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern, former Pentagon analyst Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski and former National Security Agency analyst Russ Tice. More background on the award and why we're requesting it be rescinded is available in this Guardian UK piece and the "Corbett Report" video below.


Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds (who filed complaints after 9-11 with the Department of Justice Inspector General about a number of problems at the FBI) and yours truly drafted the petition, which begins:


On March 28, 2011, President Obama was given a 'transparency award' from five 'open government' organizations: OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, the Project on Government Oversight, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and OpenTheGovernment.org. Ironically -- and quite likely in response to growing public criticism regarding the Obama administration's lack of transparency -- heads of the five organizations gave their award to Obama in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House. If the ceremony had been open to the press, it is likely that reporters would have questioned the organizations' proffered justification for the award, in contrast to the current reality:

  • President Obama has not decreased but has dramatically increased governmental secrecy! According to a new report to the president by the Information Security Oversight Office -- the federal agency that provides oversight of the government's security classification system -- the cost of classification for 2010 has reached over $10.17 billion. That's a 15 percent jump from the previous year, and the first time ever that secrecy costs have surpassed $10 billion. Last month, ISOO reported that the number of original classification decisions generated by the Obama administration in 2010 was 224,734 -- a 22.6 percent jump from the previous year. See 'The Price of Secrecy, Obama Edition.'
  • There were 544,360 requests for information last year under the Freedom of Information Act to the 35 biggest federal agencies -- 41,000 requests more than the year before. Yet the bureaucracy responded to 12,400 fewer requests than the prior year, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.
  • Obama has invoked baseless and unconstitutional executive secrecy to quash legal inquiries into secret illegalities more often than any predecessor. The list of this President's invocations of the 'state secrets privilege' has already resulted in shutting down lawsuits involving the National Security Agency's illegal wiretapping -- Jewel vs. NSA and Shubert vs. Obama; extraordinary rendition and assassination -- Anwar al-Aulaqi; and illegal torture -- Binyam Mohamed.
  • Ignoring his campaign promise to protect government whistleblowers, Obama's presidency has amassed the worst record in U.S. history for persecuting, prosecuting and jailing government whistleblowers and truth-tellers. President Obama's behavior has been in stark contrast to his campaign promises which included live streaming meetings online and so forth, and rewarding whistleblowers. Obama's Department of Justice is twisting the 1917 Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks -- more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined.
  • The Obama DOJ's prosecution of former NSA official Thomas Drake who, up till June 9, faced 35 years in prison for having blown the whistle on the NSA's costly and unlawful warrantless monitoring of American citizens typifies the abusive practices made possible through expansive secrecy agreements and threats of prosecution.
  • President Obama has set a powerful and chilling example for potential whistleblowers through the abuse and torture of Bradley Manning, whose guilt he has also publicly stated prior to any trial by his, Obama's, military subordinates.
  • Obama is the only president who has reenacted Fahrenheit 451 by actually having his agency collect and burn a book due to a never-justified classification excuse: Lt. Col Tony Shaffer's -Operation Dark Heart. ...

The full petition which can be signed, its list of signatories and endorsing organizations is here.