September 16, 2014
As war escalates in the Middle East, the Obama administration’s policies toward transparency and disclosure of key information are taking on heightened importance. Such issues will come into sharp focus later this week when Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg speaks at a rare news conference in Washington.
Praised as a “patriot” by Secretary of State John Kerry on national TV last spring, Ellsberg remains an outspoken critic of government actions that suppress information and punish whistleblowing. His news conference is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 18, at the National Press Club (1 p.m., Murrow Room). For background on Ellsberg, click here.
The following policy analysts are available for interviews:
WILLIAM BINNEY, williambinney0802 at comcast.net
Binney is a former high-level National Security Agency intelligence official who, after his 2001 retirement after 30 years, blew the whistle on NSA surveillance programs. He said today: “The pattern with Ellsberg is remarkably similar to how virtually all whistleblowers are treated: They expose something that is illegal, criminal or just plain stupid. They get attacked. The problem isn’t fixed, it just gets perpetuated because there’s an entire complex that defends itself at all cost. You have so many culpable people in the executive, in Congress, in the courts that basically defend each other because they know if one goes down, they’ll all go. And they should all go down. One great irony is that under Executive Order 13526, sec 1.7 — this is the executive order that governs classification for the U.S. government — you cannot use classification to cover up an illegality or abuse in any form.”
Binney’s outspoken criticism of the NSA during the George W. Bush administration made him the subject of FBI investigations that included a raid on his home in 2007. Even before Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing, Binney publicly revealed that NSA had access to telecommunications companies’ domestic and international billing records, and that since 9/11 the agency has intercepted some 15 to 20 trillion communications. The Snowden disclosures confirmed many of the surveillance dangers Binney — without the benefit of documents — had been warning about under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He said today: “We’re at a pivotal historic moment, bringing to mind the comment that history doesn’t exactly repeat itself but it tends to rhyme an awful lot. Fifty years ago, the suppression of accurate information and the intimidation of would-be whistleblowers were integral to the escalation of the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. Today, such suppression and intimidation are integral to the escalation of the U.S. war effort in the Middle East. Obama is not Johnson or Bush, but fundamental and grim patterns are rhyming.”
The Ellsberg news conference is sponsored by ExposeFacts.org, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy. Ellsberg is a founding member of the ExposeFacts advisory board.