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United States Security The Courts Your Rights Online

Why Whistleblowers Can't Get a Fair Trial 441

phantomfive writes "'Seven whistleblowers have been prosecuted under the Obama administration,' writes Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer who advised two of them. She explains why they can't get a fair trial. In the Thomas Drake case, the administration retroactively marked documents as classified, saying, 'he knew they should have been classified.' In the Bradley Manning case, the jury wasn't allowed to see what information was leaked. The defendants, all who have been charged with espionage, have limited access to court documents. Most of these problems happen because the law was written to deal with traitorous spies, not whistleblowers."
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Why Whistleblowers Can't Get a Fair Trial

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  • Traitorous spies? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:18AM (#46045015) Homepage

    Traitorous spies? No, that is false. The law was written to deal with socialists advocating isolationism in WWI [].

  • Re:One and the same (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:51AM (#46045239)

    Going back retroactively to MAKE someone a criminal is an act of corruption and injustice.

    It's also explicitly against the US Constitution: Article I, Section 9 []. The folks who wrote that document knew all the tricks in the tyrant's book -- from personal experience.

    Of course, classified information is not a law, it's classified by executive order. I would point out that executive orders did not exist when the Constitution was written, and should not give the President a free pass to do what Congress is expressly forbidden from doing. By waving his hands and chanting "national security," the President places himself above the law and the Constitution. Again.

  • by _Sharp'r_ ( 649297 ) <sharper&booksunderreview,com> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:24AM (#46045565) Homepage Journal

    Use this link instead, click on the top result: []

    A pain, I know.

  • Re:One and the same (Score:5, Informative)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:38AM (#46045691) Homepage Journal

    It's actually because the espionage act defines things that "apparently should" be classified as protected under law too. It's a bad law, but it's not the same as ex post facto.

  • Re:One and the same (Score:5, Informative)

    by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex AT ... trograde DOT com> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:51AM (#46045815)

    Here's Eisenhower's farewell address to America. Note that he tried to warn us about everything that has come to pass. []

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @11:04AM (#46045949)
    Unfortunately the way our voting system was constructed, you WILL always end up with 2 parties. End stop. Every other country that uses the US system has also ended up with 2 parties, it is built into the math, and no matter how much enthusiasm there is for any particular 3rd party, the 2 party system is what it will stabilize to every, single, time.

    One can philosophize all they want, but the way our system was built, voting 3rd party streghtens the position of the candidate furthest from the voter's preferences. It is no throwing your vote away, it is helping the worst candidate. This can not be changed any more then 'if we all think positively and stop believing in gravity we can all fly!'.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @11:16AM (#46046073) Journal
    The UK has a first-past-the-post system, and we currently have a coalition government, formed by one of the two major parties and the third party. Going back to the middle of the last century, the third party was one of the dominant two and was displaced (and reformed after merging with another small party) by one of the current two. FPTP electoral systems do tend towards two-party systems, but they're not stable and can be periodically upset (at which point they'll again start tending towards a two-party system. They trick is to upset them frequently).
  • Re:One and the same (Score:4, Informative)

    by ApplePy ( 2703131 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @12:09PM (#46046641)

    Yes, nullification is frowned on by judges. That doesn't mean it's wrong; it means that many judges do not like anything that curtails their power as the black-robed potentate at the head of the room.

    Jury nullification is a sacred part of Anglo-Saxon law, and everyone needs to know about it. As far as I'm concerned, it should be a part of jury instructions every trial, or included in high school civics classes, because the number of Americans who know this simple concept is vanishingly and frighteningly small.

    Your last sentence there is NOT an example of jury nullification. In fact, it's pretty much the exact opposite.

    It is, fundamentally, the job of the jury to decide law as well as fact. It's why we have juries -- it doesn't take 6 or 12 people to decide fact, after all -- a computer could do that. The jury exists to check abuse by the state, as a final stop to the application of bad law. This is so important because the state holds all the power (police, judge, prosecutor, jury pool, etc) to the point that without jury nullification, even the most innocent of the "innocent until proven guilty" of accused doesn't stand a chance against the system -- a system we ALL know is corrupt and dangerous.

    So let the judges squirm. We, the people, have ourselves to protect.

  • by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @01:10PM (#46047407) Homepage

    It's much more difficult to sack the US President, so difficult in fact that it's never happened and we've had some pretty bad presidents.

    Actually, that is untrue. Nixon would have been convicted in the Senate had he not resigned. It was a count of the votes that convinced him to give up the ghost and protect what was left of the dignity of the office. Many forget that Vice President Agnew was forced to resign as well as had criminal charges filed against him. Again, he would have also been impeached and convicted had he not taken the plea deal.

    To bring this back on topic...

    It was Nixon's Watergate scandal that was the result of a whistle blower, (deep throat) that alerted the American public to the illegal dealings in the oval office. Without whistle blowers, the illegal activities of those in power would go unchecked much like it is today.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...