‘Whistleblowers do incredible damage to US intelligence’
Benjamin Sonntag, Co-founder La-Quadrature du Net, on whistleblowing: "That is obvious [that the latest US whistleblower’s name hasn’t been released] because there is an inquiry in progress. So they would certainly not say anything until they have some kind of proof or some kind of name or arrest that person. What is true is that we have a lot of information saying that there is certainly a second whistleblower. The main problem is that Mr. Obama is continuing his policy which consists of attacking whistleblowers and not protecting them like it should be."
RT:Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning quickly became known, didn’t they? Why has this new whistleblower’s identity not been released yet?
Glenmore Trenear-Harvey: There is a double reason. First of all, the FBI has apparently raided an address in Virginia earlier today, but the interesting thing is that the Justice Department has not issued proceedings at the moment. They have got a big down on whistleblowers. They have been using the Espionage Act, which goes back to World War I, to try and get these people. What I think is far more significant, even though it is described as a “second Snowden,” it highlights the schism between the president and the intelligent services in the United States. And like in Russia - where the “Siloviki”, SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation) or FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation), are very, very close indeed to President Putin - in the US we now have a president who has only had about 30 percent of his PDB, this is his presidential daily briefing. And every other president has this every day. President Obama not- he has kept away from this. The intelligence community is very upset with the president and particularly with the Justice Department. And we know what happens next month – we are coming into the elections. This couldn't be worse timing for the American administration. And it underscores the anger that the intelligence community feels about yet another whistleblower.
RT:Just on that point about the Justice Department. Those officials say they may hesitate to invoke the Espionage Act that was used against Manning and Snowden. Is it a sign that the authorities are taking a more moderate approach to whistleblowers?
GTH: It would appear that way, the offence hasn’t changed. The watch list that apparently has been exposed by the second whistleblower is a very, very sensitive thing. It determines every person who is on an in-bound flight to the US. Originally, this was any concerns you had about terrorists. Now you have whether someone is coming from West Africa, possibly Ebola infected on the watch list. The Department of Homeland Security is apparently putting hundreds if not thousands of people on this list and none of them have any connection with terrorism. So I don’t know what the point is of the Justice Department. They are backpedaling. And I think it is purely for political reasons.
Benjamin Sonntag, Co-founder La-Quadrature du Net, on whistleblowing: "It looks like [there will be more whistleblowers in time]. Edward Snowden released his data because of Chelsea Manning, the former marine who was accused of leaking the cables and documents on Iraq and Afghan war. Basically Edward Snowden invited other people to leak and to blow the whistle on the abusing power of the NSA and the other administrations."
RT:Do you think the number of people who would like to reveal secret information and act as whistleblowers has recently increased? Have people become less fearful?
GTH: I think so. A number of people have looked at Snowden and seen that he has been coming up with an absolute huge treasure trove of information. We saw Julian Assange who at the moment is incarcerated in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. And people look at this and think: “nothing really bad has happened.” So it encourages other whistleblowers to think: “If they got away with it I can probably too.” The thing is that there is such dissatisfaction in the US with the Obama administration. He has proven to be such a disappointment in this current second year. I think yes and I am sad to say because the whistleblowers have been doing incredible damage. And the intelligence community feels that when they are dealing with particularly terrorism they are operating with one hand tied behind their back.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.