What Have We Done: Executive Power, Drones, and Trump?

by Jesselyn Radack

The news is rife with President Trump’s threatened and actual military misadventures: in Syria, Yemen, and North Korea. But these military actions take on a new gravity considering the vast and secret powers Trump inherited.

Former President Obama escalated the use of drone strikes—including in non-battlefield arenas such as Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen—so it is no surprise that President Trump has continued with abandon. While Obama put some constraints on drones, Trump gave the secretive, unaccountable CIA new authority to conduct drone strikes against “suspected militants.”

Muslims inside FBI describe culture of suspicion and fear: ‘It is cancer’

By Spencer Ackerman | The Guardian

Muslim special agents and intelligence analysts at the FBI are reporting a climate of fear inside the agency coinciding with the political ascendance of Donald Trump, the Guardian has learned.

FBI officials from Muslim-majority countries, a minority in a predominantly white bureau, say they are subject to an organizational culture of suspicion and hostility that leadership has done little to reform. At least one decorated intelligence analyst has been fired this year after a long ordeal which began with a routine foreign visit to see his family.

Is the Vault 7 Source a Whistleblower?

It is the leakiest of times in the Executive Branch. Last week, Wikileaks published a massive and, by all accounts genuine, trove of documents revealing that the CIA has been stockpiling, and lost control of, hacking tools it uses against targets. Particularly noteworthy were the revelations that the CIA developed a tool to hack Samsung TVs and turn them into recording devices and that the CIA worked to infiltrate both Apple and Google smart phone operating systems since it could not break encryption. No one in government has challenged the authenticity of the documents disclosed.

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, asks: Who will be the next Snowden?

By Margaret Sullivan | WaPo

The most dangerous man in America is asking to borrow my scarf.

I’ve known Daniel Ellsberg for only five minutes, but, curious, I unwind it from my neck and give it over. One-handed, with a flick of his wrist, the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower produces an elegant knot. With another flick, the knot disappears.

Not a bad feat, though it hardly measures up to his copying and leaking thousands of pages of classified documents on the Vietnam War to the New York Times — an act that eventually changed the course of history.

When It’s Time to Blow the Whistle


“The spotlight has finally been put on the lowlife leakers! They will be caught!” So tweeted President Trump on Thursday morning after a week when his administration had been shaken by reports based on information from anonymous sources inside the government and intelligence agencies. On Monday, such revelations had led to the resignation of Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser.

Further reports about repeated contacts between members of the Trump campaign team and Russian officials also caused the president to reverse his pre-election stance — “I love WikiLeaks!” — and issue tirades against “illegal” leaks and the “criminal action” of leakers. It’s no surprise that Mr. Trump, in office, wants to stem this flow with threatened retaliation, but if you’re a government employee who knows something, what are you thinking?

Trump Fumes Over ‘Criminal’ Leaks as Culprits Risk Harsh Penalties

Whoever is responsible should lawyer up, use encryption, avoid lying to FBI and talk with their family, whistleblower defenders says.

President Donald Trump is decrying a stream of leaks that have led to embarrassing stories about his talks with foreign leaders and that this week forced Michael Flynn to resign his job as national security adviser – and experts say the sources are in legal peril.

Addressing the leaks about Flynn, Trump said at a Wednesday press conference that information was “illegally – I stress that, illegally – leaked” and said “it’s a criminal act and it’s been going on for a long time, before me, but now it’s really going on.”

Alternative “Facts”

by Jesselyn Radack

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, famously coined the Orwellian phrase “alternative facts” when pressed about flat out lies told the previous day by White House press secretary Sean Spicer regarding the crowd size at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The dictionary definition of a “fact” is a piece of information presented as having an objective reality. Accordingly, the term “alternative fact” is itself is an oxymoron. A fact is both indisputable and immutable. Having “alternatives” to a fact undermines its very meaning.

Of Scarecrows and Whistleblowers

By Jeffrey Sterling

I find myself doing a lot of reading in prison of late, and one article in particular caught my attention. It speaks to many issues that are indicative of my being in prison. The article is “The Outside Man” and in it, Malcolm Gladwell muses over the differences between Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden. From my “inside” perspective, the distinctions Mr. Gladwell makes and the justifications for doing so are troubling. Mr. Gladwell’s perspective espouses a form of “good government” that the Bard warns against in typical Shakespearean eloquence and ageless wisdom:

“We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch and not their terror.”

CIA Poised To Crack Down on Whistleblowers If Torture Program Restored

Newly confirmed CIA director Mike Pompeo informed United States senators he would “aggressively seek to ensure we have the most effective programs for identifying insider threats.” It was a pledge to pursue the same anti-leaks policies that discourage whistleblowing that President Barack Obama’s administration pursued.

Obama’s Legacy: A Historic War On Whistleblowers

As President Barack Obama soared into office eight years ago, he promised, on his first day in the White House, to launch “a new era of open government.”

“The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama said in a Jan. 21, 2009 memorandum.

Obama was urging the attorney general to issue new guidelines protecting The Freedom of Information Act. “In the face of doubt,” Obama proclaimed, “openness prevails.”