Today, we’re glad to send you a new essay by NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake -- addressing connections between the coronavirus emergency, government secrecy and the crucial importance of whistleblowing for public health and safety.
Tom has grim firsthand knowledge of how risky it can be to tell difficult truths about the actions and inaction of top government officials -- and how devastating it can be for the lives of whistleblowers even without ending up imprisoned.
We want to remind you that whether or not the rare whistleblowers at places like the National Security Agency go to prison, a key official goal is to drive them close to the poverty line for the rest of their lives, deprived of pensions and rendered unemployable for all but low-paid jobs.
Although Tom ultimately prevailed in court after a Kafkaesque ordeal that lasted years, the government completely wrecked his personal finances. (If you’re not familiar with his brave stand on behalf of the Fourth Amendment, please see the links under “Background” at the bottom of this email.)
You can click here to support Tom Drake as an NSA whistleblower who continues to speak truth to -- and about -- power. Whatever tax-deductible contribution you can afford would be deeply appreciated. Half of every dollar you donate will go directly to Tom, while the other half will support the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign that he chairs.
From Thomas Drake:
I write this update to you against the sobering realities of the coronavirus crisis, a profound U.S. leadership crisis and the reality that 2020 is closing down early across our society.
Turns out I am in a designated risk category by virtue of my 62 years of age, but have direct family members and people in my regular social network who fall into much higher critical risk categories due to pre-existing conditions.
In the face of the coronavirus crisis, we must increasingly look to local and global health leaders for action in the absence of any real leadership from the U.S. government.
The Trump administration order to classify updates on coronavirus developments and testing is frankly a coverup of the U.S. government’s abysmal failure to protect the welfare, health and well-being of the people.
Yet key indications and warning from months ago were ignored by Trump and his administration when the coronavirus broke out.
This reminds me of the failures of the U.S. government to provide for the common defense -- not keeping people out of harm’s way on 9/11 when almost 3,000 lives perished on that fateful and tragic day, despite many years of ignored indications and warnings (including reports I helped send out in 1993 after terrorists attempted to drop the World Trade Center Towers the first time). Those indications and warnings were then covered up to hide culpability and truth about 9/11 behind a blanket of national security lies and classified secrets.
In addition, the coronavirus crisis is exposing lots of fraud and sand castles. Therefore, despite government lies and denials and too many people in high places sticking their heads in the proverbial sand (while wishing on rainbows and mirages), we must face this global health crisis together as we all live in the same global village on this planet called Earth.
As I write this, just today the Federal Reserve Bank pumped more than a trillion and a half dollars into the economy under the guise of “market intervention” and the stock market still fell some 10 percent on the day -- in its worst showing since 1987.
Can you imagine how far a trillion and a half dollars would go to protect the health and well-being of people, let alone promoting the general welfare of the populace? It is one of the two primary responsibilities of government in the Preamble of the Constitution, besides providing for the common defense.
And then we have President Trump’s 2020 campaign suing several media outlets for libel over opinion pieces. This is incredibly dangerous, treating the First Amendment and free expression and speech as a direct threat to his ego, personal vanity, autocratic behavior, and megalomania. It sends a most chilling message when daring to write and publish something “Dear Leader” doesn’t like.
Trump is doing this in the form of defamation “lawfare” suits that abuse the court system and judiciary, while attempting to overturn and set new precedent for prior restraint.
With all these attacks on the First Amendment by the Trump administration, I am experiencing major flashbacks.
That is because the government charged me with espionage; it accused me of stealing and then disclosing government property and secrets that I then gave to the press. Government prosecutors alleged that the reporter was the only eyewitness to my apparent crime committed against the state -- for speaking truth about the abuse of national security state power and the mass violations of privacy and Fourth Amendment protections of people.
There is also a lot of Newspeak propaganda and disinformation operations using convenient foils and overstated bogeymen to exploit fear, sow discord and promote division while hiding the truth behind a veil of secrecy and national security state briefings. This type of executive action makes it all too easy to manipulate for political ends.
Trump continually demonstrates his contempt and hatred for democracy, preferring the rally stage of a performance-driven presidency while spreading the memes and propaganda of his own Trump-branded autocratic authoritarianism.
U.S. democracy is under assault by the Trump syndicate as he issues pardons contributing to the advancement of white-collar crime and enhanced corruption -- abusing his power to attack and threaten his enemies -- while persecuting and prosecuting those who dare to expose his massive confraud on America.
Trump’s priorities are now vengeance and revenge -- engaging in a new series of retaliatory acts to preserve his power in violation of his constitutional oath. His vindictive actions and unlawful orders are malicious assaults on democracy as he ramps up his retribution tour against his designated enemies and those he claims betrayed him -- using the power of his presidency to protect his abuse of power.
And yet democracy dies in the darkness of dystopia, and there are now alarming new developments in the updated U.S. ’20-’22 counterintelligence strategy report -- for identifying and targeting hacktivists while calling them out as social media “manipulators” and also targeting anti-secrecy and public disclosure groups as direct threats to the national security of the United States.
These new and chilling counterintelligence threats to the U.S. also include targeting anyone else who fits an “ideologically motivated entities” profile as designated espionage threats to the U.S. -- considered equal and on par with the threats posed by existing and more traditional state and non-state actors.
The U.S. is now clearly formalizing threat monitoring of dissent and truth-telling public interest disclosures in the updated executive counterintelligence strategy recently signed by Trump.
It reminds me of when I was declared an Enemy of the State, a secrecy leaker and one who “self-radicalized” as alleged by the Joint DoJ/DNI National Insider Threat Task Force (NITTF) back in late 2015 in formal threat briefings.
The NITTF also pinned me up alongside Edward Snowden as a National Security State criminal on a rogue’s gallery of counterintelligence threats from “those that have done us harm” (equating me with the newly minted moniker of “leaktivist” in the ’20-’22 counterintelligence strategy) -- and other real spies and mass shooters in U.S. history.
What future do we want to keep? It is up to us.
I will keep on keeping on -- defending life, liberty and our precious freedoms and rights -- standing tall along that long moral arc of the universe and help bending it toward justice and mercy.
Please take care of yourselves and each other, because it so important to remember that we bring out the best of who we are in each other -- as human beings.
Thanks for listening and for your continuing support.
-- Thomas Drake
PS from the RootsAction Education Fund team:
Truth-telling can be inspirational. Another NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has said: “If there hadn’t been a Thomas Drake, there couldn’t have been an Edward Snowden.”
Meanwhile, Tom Drake remains deeply in financial debt. Ironically, we are in his debt -- morally, politically and ethically. We owe him so much because he stood up for civil liberties and human decency.
Let’s continue to help repay that debt to Tom Drake, who exposed extreme mass surveillance by the NSA.
Living in what is supposed to be a democracy, we get vital information because of the courage of whistleblowers.
Tom Drake has no intention of going silent. He wants to keep writing, traveling and speaking out. But he needs our help.
Please make a tax-deductible contribution in support of his work.
Please share on Facebook and Twitter.
>> CNBC: “Trump Campaign Sues the New York Times for Libel Over Russia Opinion Article”
>> Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post: “We Have Entered the Trump Era Unbound -- and Journalists Need to Step It Up”
>> AFP: “U.S. Adds Hacktivists, Social Media Manipulators to Top Intel Threats”
>> Daily Beast: “U.S. Intelligence Shuts Down Damning Report on Whistleblower Retaliation”
>> Freedom of the Press Foundation: “Beware of Trump Administration’s Coming Crackdown on Leaks -- and Journalism”
>> Thomas Drake and other whistleblowers at Cato Institute forum: “The NSA & the Road to 9/11: Lessons Learned & Unlearned”
>> Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Former NSA Executive Urges Public Vigilance Against Government Overreach”
>> “The Constitution and Conscience: NSA’s Thomas Drake”: Video of speech
>> The Washington Times: “Donald Trump on Edward Snowden: Kill the ‘Traitor’”
>> Jesselyn Radack, The New York Times: “Whistleblowers Deserve Protection Not Prison”
>> Jane Mayer, The New Yorker: Thomas Drake -- "The Secret Sharer"