March 4, 2015—National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake has claimed the plea deal offered to former CIA Director David Petraeus is nothing but a “slap on the wrist.”
His actions, Drake said, were illegal and did not serve any public good. And yet, the federal government is going easy on him.
To many, this is a great example of a double standard. While the criminal law is often not applied to whistleblowers equally, the federal government appears to have let Petraeus out too easy. The fear of backlash is not there, therefore nothing seems to keep Petraeus from slipping through the cracks.
After allegedly revealing information on the NSA’s Trailblazer monitoring project to a journalist, Drake was indicted under the Espionage Act. He was also charged for allegedly making false statements and obstructing justice. In spite of the years put into fighting the federal government’s allegations against him, the charges were eventually dropped. He was later urged to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge to avoid jail time.
The former CIA director was let off the hook with a fine, but Chelsea Manning is still in jail. Edward Snowden hopes to return to America but only if he’s given a fair trial. Some believe that the latest developments indicate Snowden should stay away from the United States if he ever hopes to live freely.
To writer Michael Bradley, the Petraeus case is an indication that whistleblowers who act for selfless reasons get to pay a much greater price than those who act for selfish reasons.
“Petraeus’s record and reputation should, if anything, have aggravated his punishment. What deterrent effect is this plea deal going to have on others with the same kind of privileged access to state secrets? Apparently, if you give it to your girlfriend, that’s a misdemeanour. But hand it to WikiLeaks and you’re a traitor. There’s a perverted morality at play here.”
Ron Paul once said he found it interesting that the federal government sees the public as the enemy when it insists to indict whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden under the Espionage Act. But charging whistleblowers for “aiding the enemy” continues to be the default, unless you leak information meant to make you look good on paper.
What are your two cents on this story: do you agree with Drake and why? Share your thoughts below.
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