By John Kendall Hawkins
In his memoir, Permanent Record, Edward Snowden insists there’s a serious distinction between whistleblowing and leaking. “A ‘whistleblower’, he writes, “ is a person who through hard experience has concluded that their life inside an institution has become incompatible with the principles developed in…the greater society outside it, to which that institution should be accountable.” Snowden has often referred to Daniel Ellsberg, distributor of the Pentagon Papers, as a model for the type. He compares whistleblowing to leaking — “acts of disclosure done not out of public interest but out of self-interest, or in pursuit of institutional or political aims.”
Daniel Ellsberg, who has said of Katherine Gun, the depicted GCHQ whistleblower in Official Secrets, that her heroic decision to risk everything (career, marriage, freedom) to blow the whistle on Great Britain’s collusion in blackmailing UN Security Council members into supporting an illegal war (the US and the UK knew there were no WMDs) against Iraq in the spring of 2003 was a “model for other whistleblowers. She’s my hero.”
He has used similar accolades to describe Snowden’s revelations. In recently announcing Snowden’s addition to the board of directors of Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founded by investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, to enhance and strengthen first amendment rights, Ellsberg said: “He is the quintessential American whistleblower, and a personal hero of mine…Leaks are the lifeblood of the republic and, for the first time, the American public has been given the chance to debate democratically the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.”
These whistleblowers are citizens we should be most proud of, as they have the public interest of America at heart: they see terrible things happening when secretive governance works to evade accountability and undermine the Constitution with their actions. They often hang out together. To hear Ellsberg, whistleblowing is as American as Mom’s Apple Pie. And is always a la mode.
But not every whistleblower is equal. Take Mark Felt. When he was known as ‘Deep Throat’, telling heroic journalists (Redford and Hoffman) from the Washington Post to follow the money and uncover the Watergate era shenanigans of the Nixon administration, Americans were sucked into the intrigue of his deep state doings. In the newspaper, whose motto is: Democracy Dies in Darkness, insider Felt was painted as a hero of the Republic.
But many years of political sobriety later I’ve come to the conclusion that Felt was no whistleblower. He was what Snowden calls a leaker; he acted “out of self-interest, [and] in pursuit of institutional or political aims.” You could argue that the MSM – and the rest of us — got played when Deep Throat helped take down a hated president, Richard Nixon. Had Felt been made director, we never would have had Deep Throat. It was nice to see Nixon go, but Felt was a leaker, not a whistleblower. And the fact that Felt was close friends with journalist Bob Woodward — even before Watergate — is never mentioned.
There is an alternative way of looking at what Deep Throat accomplished. In an article titled “The deeper truth about Deep throat,” author George Friedman of Stratfor writes,
This was not a lone whistleblower being protected by a courageous news organization; rather, it was a news organization being used by the FBI against the president, and a news organization that knew perfectly well that it was being used against the president. Protecting Deep Throat concealed not only an individual, but also the story of the FBI’s role in destroying Nixon.
Even as we consider the source (Stratfor), considering an alternative way of reading Deep Throat’s patriotism is — obligatory. And may be relevant to what has happened recently with Trump’s impeachment. Felt’s no Ellsberg.
In fact, while it’s ‘obligatory’ to bring intel secrets to the grave with you, Felt probably did the right thing when he went public in old age and outed himself as Deep Throat. He was evidently pressured not by vanity but by the sensible desire to help his grandchildren pay for university. Vanity Fair jumped on his confession. A book contract followed. Then a movie. Felt, for money, told ghosts how he blew minds back in the day, so that his grandkids wouldn’t be just more debt slaves to Sallie Mae. $1.6 trillion and counting. (Fuck. If he’s only framed it that way in the end, he’d been a national hero all over again: follow the money, he’d a-said, about the student loans.)
In the context of Ellsberg, Snowden, Gun, Radack, et al, where does the Ukraine whistleblower fit in? Did he deliver a Pentagon Report or StellarWind revelation or NSA blackmail-for-war report? No. Did s/he have first hand information about the phone call that President Trump had with Ukraine’s President Zelensky? No. Someone told him about the phone call and the quid pro quo and he went to the appropriate authorities to begin an abuse of power probe, but at third hand. Afterward, unlike the whistleblowers described above, our Ukraine whistleblower went back to work for the CIA.
Whether you are Left or Right of the political spectrum, when we begin to examine the motivations of why this whistleblower came forward, one has to wonder if there is any public interest in that motivation. Quid pro quos are the bread and butter of Congress, definitely including the anti-opponent kind Trump is said to have been caught up in. Put differently, had Obama been “caught” qpq-ing a foreign power, say, against McCain, would the MSM have given a shit? Many people would like to see the non-politician Trump deposed, but if the whistleblower is more akin to Mark Felt than Daniel Ellsberg I’m not interested in doing it through partisan hypocrisy.
Despite the fantasy game that the MSM is playing regarding the Ukraine whistleblower, indulging in the idea that s/he is motivated by public interests, and hiding his identity, so many journalists have looked into the background of the alleged whistleblower, outed in several middle and conservative publications, that if it’s true that this whistleblower once worked for Obama’s NSC in Ukraine until just after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, and that they have an established relationship with Joe Biden, then there is a conflict of interest, and the protected whistleblower, call him Deep State Thoat, is more akin to Felt than Ellsberg or Snowden.
To date, the CIA whistleblower that the left-center MSM refuses to name, is supposedly protected by whistleblower legislation, which any sensible American citizen should want to honor. But the name is out there. The same name. And it becomes surprising, given the rhetoric about this person’s need to be guarded 24 hours a day, why they simply haven’t just come forward and averred that they are not the whistleblower. If it turns out that they do have connections to the previous administration, it pays to do what the previous Deep Throat suggested: follow the money.
Even controversial CIA whistleblower, John Kirikaou has weighed in on the Ukraine whistleblower (in a generic way). He says, “If he’s a whistleblower, and not a CIA plant whose task it is to take down the president, then his career is probably over.” Elsewhere, he opines even further:
“I don’t think this is a whistleblower, not at all,” Kiriakou told FNC’s Tucker Carlson. “I think this is an anonymous source for the Democratic staff in the House of Representatives. You can’t hide this person’s identity just to save him from embarrassment or trouble of being recognized. It’s just not appropriate. If this is a whistleblower, he needs to come forward in public, testify in open session and blow that whistle.”
In the CIA, you are a pariah, after “ratting.” Somehow, the Ukraine whistleblower went back to work at the CIA. Either, like Mark Felt, his job was to take down a president, like Mark Felt, or, if he is a real whistleblower, he will be ‘reluctantly’ pushed out into the world of Snowden-like contractors, unknown, and unaccounted for.
Like most sane and sensible people I detest Trump’s presidency, but there’s a danger that MSM journalism will take a further tumble into absurdity if it slavishly follows partisan bicker-streams and refuses to wonder what the Ukraine whistleblower’s motivations are. I favor a whistleblower law that totally protects the whistleblower: if they need to quit as a result of their leaks, then the law should provide full salary for a career; a pension should be safe; health insurance guaranteed, plus, if necessary, they should receive paid protection. But if our Deep State Throat is just another political blow-hard with a partisan agenda, then they get no protection beyond what their handlers can provide.
Why isn’t a single journalist wondering aloud what Cofer Black is up to on the board of directors at controversial Bursima Gas (since May 2017) in Ukraine? Is there any relation to Deep State Throat’s whistle and Black in Ukraine. Has the whistleblower ever been in contact with Black?
Let’s see those phone transcripts.