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When Convenience Counts: Leaking, Whistleblowing and the Democrats

The entire Trump presidency has been a sequence of “watch this space” moments. Dismissals and political executions; attacks and distractions; gestures of deal making and promises of apocalypse. Perhaps it was high time for another bit of material to be added to this sprawling tapestry of mayhem. The elements seemed to form the basis of a badly told joke: a Ukrainian president, a US president and a whistleblower walked into a bar, and…?

Coming on the heels of another juicy sample from President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who had testified before the House Judiciary Committee on efforts by Trump to recruit him to halt the Russia probe, a rumour was filtering through: a whistleblower from the intelligence community, it seemed, had been irate about the president’s conduct.

The letter, written by the whistleblower in August this year, is positively pungent. President Trump, it argues, “is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election. The interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.” Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and US Attorney General William Barr also feature.

The letter does have a qualifying note. The author admits that what is being conveyed is in the realm of hearsay, the tittle tattle of agency talk. “I was not a direct witness to most of the events described.” Credibility has been assumed, however, because the pattern emerging in various accounts seem consistent: we share, because we care.

Central to the complaint is the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The subject of the conversation: Democratic presidential contender and former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden. The allegation: that Zelensky and Ukrainian sources were essentially being urged to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the Bidens for Trump’s own electoral delectation. Then came the efforts by the White House to prevent any discussion of the call from getting out.

For all that, the letter itself forms an already rusting arsenal of claims based on information that is already in the public domain. As the Washington Post suggests, “if it continues to be relied upon as evidence of justifying impeachment, Democrats will have to make some hard choices about how to proceed.”

No matter. The whistleblower has become a well-timed sensation of deliverance for the Democratic caucus. The ecstatic thrill shown by Democrats lies in sharp contrast to the pre-Trump era, when those inclined to disclose secrets or classified information were sneered at as irresponsible and unpatriotic. The Obama administration made a habit of resorting to the 1917 Espionage Act against those daring to blow the whistle. Standing at eight prosecutions, it came to more than double those of all previous presidents combined.

In all the fuss, it was easy to ignore those remarkable words endorsed by the Continental Congress in its approved resolution of July 30, 1778: “It is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof, to give the earlier information to Congress or any other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanours committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge”.

When considered together, be it the tactical or careless leak, or the well-intentioned disclosure of sensitive information, inconsistency prevails. At points, such activities have drawn savage retribution from the state. On other occasions, the activity has been left unpunished, suggesting the inconstancy and unevenness of approaches to information. Lamentably, they also suggest favouritism, malice and convenient exploitation.

The case of General David Petraeus, for instance, was deemed a misdemeanour, despite disclosing notebooks to his biography scribbling mistress containing “classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings and [his] discussions with the President of the United States of America.”

The March 6, 2015 letter to the US Department of Justice from Abbe David Lowell, the attorney representing Stephen Kim, one of the unfortunates charged and convicted for providing national defence information to a person without authorisation to receive it, outlined the asymmetrical nature of information disclosure in the security environment. Lowell contrasted his client’s situation with that of the General. “Despite the nature of the information and these intentional false statements [from Petraeus] the [Department of Justice] is not only permitting but is actively recommending that General Petraeus plead guilty to a misdemeanour.”

Lowell had suggested that the act of disclosure be treated as a misdemeanour regarding the mishandling or retention of classified material. Besides, his client, in discussing US ignorance of North Korea’s military capabilities with Fox News, had not intended to harm his country. This was dismissed out of hand: Kim had lied to FBI agents, which more or less sealed the matter. But as Lowell explained with pertinent sharpness, the decision to permit the general “to plead guilty to misdemeanour demonstrates more clearly than ever the profound double standard that applies when prosecuting so-called ‘leakers’ and those accused of disclosing classified information for their own purposes.”

The situation now is one of sublime convenience. The elections are next year. The Democratic contenders look more like sandpit debaters than clear-eyed candidates. But the whistleblower’s revelations are heralded as the stuff of gold dust; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, usually reluctant in the matter, has announced the beginnings of the inquiry.

The anger shown by Trump at the whistleblower’s disclosure is being treated as abnormally sinister. It has been noted, for instance, that the president is willing to reward anybody keen to divulge who furnished the information to the whistleblower with a bounty of $50,000. But the US security establishment is famed for targeting the careless and the noble when it comes to revealing what is rotten in a state. The question to ask is what makes this particularly whistleblower the exception that proves the rule? The answer, in all likelihood, is the politics of convenience rather than the nobility of patriotism.

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16 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Watch this space, the one between the Trump ears.., and just why is this reeking extrusion still there? Are there no civilised patriots left? Adolf painted when young (badly) and Benito played the violin (puttin on a record when getting into his mistress) but Trump plays shit golf and eats cheesburger turdlies. What a man! Rooting, rorting, raving, robbing, reneging, ridiculing and razzing away, he is evil.

  2. Karen Kyle

    Really bad article. The situation in the USA is no joke. It is proto Fascism. It is corruption spreading around the world and Ukraine is trying hard to withstand it, and along comes Trump to put the unethical screws on. Trump is a Russian inspired menace. The Democrats are right to hold an impeachment inquiry. Trump has to go. He is corrupt beyod measure and because he is so dumb he is likey getting advise on how to destroy a demoocracy from some one he admires. Who do we know at the head of a corrupt authoritarian regime?. And who do we know is doing their utmost to spread it through demcracies in Europe Who jails political opponents and murders journalists..

    To pull off this nasty experiment Trump needs crooked public servants. He has done a fair job with the State Department, Homeland Security and the DA William Barr. And you can’t have show trials without crooked lawyers and crooked judges. Just as well the US still has investigative reporters, as does Russia and the Ukraine.

    And I wonder why this article muddies the water.

  3. David Bruce

    When you realize that the USA is “owned” by Israel, it all makes sense. Trump is just a distraction to create chaos so order can be restored!

    Russia is NOT the Soviet Union and the Western Press continues to demonize Russians and Putin because they are controlled by the Money Masters. The MM have never forgotten and never forgiven Russia and the murdered Czar and his family, for threatening war with Britain and France if they intervened in the War of Independence in America. The MM lost control until their Federal Reserve was established!

  4. Josephus

    Oh here we go, the paranoia of tho protocol of the elders of Zion. Dear troll get off this site.

  5. Karen Kyle

    Josephus…………….It’s all over the news. Don’t you keep up? Try MSNBC.

  6. Michael Taylor

    I’m with Josephus.

    I listen to MSNBC podcasts every night. This is news to me.

  7. Karen Kyle

    Try the television news……all day and well iinto the night. It starts with MorningJoe.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Sorry. I don’t watch TV. Too busy.

  9. Karen Kyle

    Morning Joe MSNBC “Why Russia’s fingerprits are on Ukraine scandal”. One segment, about ten minutes. Also The Daily Beast.

  10. Michael Taylor

    Karen, we might have our wires crossed. It wasn’t you I was questioning… it was David Bruce.

  11. New England Cocky

    @David Bruce: I think you should prove your ridiculous claim especially as it relates to the five US banks funding of Nazi Germany to the tune of 35 MILLION POUNDS STERLING and the subsequent US multinational corporations establishing European branches in Germany, and payment of war reparations from the US government through the Marshall Plan for losing their manufacturing assets in Germany due to Allied bombing. Oh, and don’t forget the financial role of Prescott Bush, (grandfather to Shrubya Bush) in directly funding the Nazi regime.

  12. David Bruce

    NEC – And now those 5 US are getting payback from Deutsche Bank to the tune of 49 trillion in derivatives.
    Why are the Democrats, led by Jewish congressional representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who leads the impeachment committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) who is on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), Eliot Engel (D-New York) along with 21 other Jewish Democratic congressional representatives all calling for the impeachment of President Trump because of his phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine.

    It should be apparent that these Jewish “US congressional members” prefer the ascendancy of Israel over America many being paid off by Jewish-American oligarchs.

    Frankly, I don’t give a rip! It is just the way our crazy world is.

    https://www.abeldanger.org/what-do-the-jews-want-in-ukraine-from-russiagate-to-ukrainegate-the-raw-power-of-ukraines-jewish-oligarchs/

  13. Karen Kyle

    David Bruce…..total ant Semitic rubbish. Watch Rachel Maddow MSNBC right now. All will become much clearer and take note of the book Maddow has just written “Blowout” It’s about Trump, Russia and Ukraine….oh yeah and Manafort.

  14. Karen Kyle

    The program is about Russia Trump Ukraine and Manafort. The book is about the Oil and Gas Industry worldwide and how it all feeds into Trump and Russia.

  15. paul walter

    I can’t give a call on it because they are ALL liars, it is the system, altered through historical including technological processes since the eighteenth century. entering another big Game phase.

    LOVO says it all

    This country was captured by and is still squabbled over for an ultimate mystical control by vulture oligarchic factions and asset-stripping factions within these oligarchies.

    No one mentions the giant Wall St cartels, but these have done as much to corrupt and neuter the US and it s always fragile democratic system so that it may now be vulnerable to outside forces.

    The unrestrained plunder to off shore banks running into the tens of $trillions of tax dodged, the crumbling of infrastructure spending to subsidise yet more offshoring and the waste of $trillions pursuing wars in the Middle East for the benefit of US and other oil and banking cartels; whichever faction is dominant after a given election (Cheney/ Bush?); does indeed have the US in deep strife and challenged by rivals from Russia, Europe and China. as it is sucked dry by parasites while it struggles to hold its empire and influence together against the other jackals.

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