Truthtelling can be an act of resistance. Join Defending Rights & Dissent policy director Chip Gibbons as he brings you the stories of whistleblowers and other truthtellers who expose civil liberties and human rights abuses committed under the guise of national security and the attempts to silence them.
Empire of Lies feat. Matthew Hoh
"There's been one systemic process of lying throughout the Afghan War. From the Bush Administration to the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration it has just been systemic lying from the American government about the war."
This is what Matthew Hoh says about the US war in Afghanistan during this episode of Primary Sources. Hoh would know. After already completing two assignments in Iraq, Hoh joined the US State Department in Afghanistan. In 2009, he made headlines when he resigned in protest of President Obama's plans to escalate the Afghan War. Hoh joins host Chip Gibbons to discuss the four decade history of US intervention in Afghanistan, his own journey as a whistleblower, and how the Pentagon hired a PR firm to discredit him when he spoke out against the war.
Jailing the Messenger: The CIA's Torture Whistleblower feat. John Kiriakou
After September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency, with the approval of President George W. Bush, began a highly classified program of renditions and torture. While torture violates both US and international law, President Obama declined to hold any one accountable for the program, saying he was looking forwards, not backwards.
That policy, however, did not apply to whistleblowers. The Obama Administration prosecuted former CIA analyst and case officer John Kiriakou for revealing information about the US torture program. Kiriakou first confirmed the CIA had used waterboarding while Bush was still in office. In spite of the CIA filing a crimes report, they declined prosecution. But the Obama Administration, at the request of CIA Director John Brennan, revived the case and sent Kiriakou to prison.
To date, he remains the only person to be held accountable in connection to the torture program.
The Whistleblower and the Wrath of the NSA feat. Thomas Drake
Thomas Drake swore an oath to defend the US Constitution on multiple occasions. His fidelity to that oath put him on a collision course with his employer, the National Security Agency. Drake assisted in an inspector general complaint concerning a costly intelligence boondoggle and aided Congressional investigations into intelligence failures in the lead-up to 9/11.
And as the national security state expanded post 9/11, Drake's oath forbade him to remain silent when the government undertook surveillance that violated the rights of Americans. Drake's good deeds put a target on his back. As a result, he became the signature Espionage Act case in an emerging War on Whistleblowers.
The CIA v. The Unwanted Spy feat. Jeffrey Sterling
Jeffrey Sterling has described himself as an unwanted spy.
In the early 2000s, he attempted to take the CIA on over its racial discrimination against him. Citing the state secrets doctrine, his case was never considered on its merits. Later, he would go to the Senate Intelligence Committee to alert them about Operation Merlin, a plan to give Iran faulty nuclear plans. After being fired from the CIA, Sterling thought his ordeal was over. Then in 2006, the FBI raided his home and in 2011 brought an indictment against him under the Espionage Act.
Sterling joins host Chip Gibbons to talk about life inside the CIA, his controversial trial, and his path to becoming a whistleblower.
The Whistleblower Who Takes On Espionage Act Prosecutions feat. Jesselyn Radack
Attorney Jesselyn Radack has been at the forefront of opposing the government's War on Whistleblowers. She has represented numerous clients indicted under the Espionage Act, including Edward Snowden, Daniel Hale, Thomas Drake, and John Kiriakou. Jesselyn knows first hand the perils of being a whistleblower.
Before becoming one of the leading attorneys defending the rights of national security whistleblowers, she was a Department of Justice employee who blew the whistle on FBI ethics violations during the interrogation of so-called American Taliban John Walker Lindh. Jesselyn joins host Chip Gibbons to discuss her journey and what it's like being on the front lines of the War on Whistleblowers
Secrecy, Repression, and The Espionage Act Century feat. Carey Shenkman
Passed during World War I, the Espionage Act was President Woodrow Wilson's "firm hand of repression" that he used to silence antiwar voices.
Touted as a law against spies and saboteurs, the Espionage Act has in fact been a tool to control the flow of information and suppress dissent. Over the interceding years, the Espionage Act became a way to retaliate against those who publish "official secrets." Today it is the government's go to weapon against national security whistleblowers and even journalists who uncover abuses of power.
Host Chip Gibbons is joined by human rights attorney Carey Shenkman to learn more about the ignoble history of the Espionage Act and its century of silencing those who dissent on US national security policy.