“You have to know your stuff. You have to mute your instinct to reduce everything to the next election. This is serious business. We need interviewers who are dead serious about holding people accountable for what they say.”
Watch what happens at the 7:00 mark in this interview that CNN’s Candy Crowley did today with Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, chair of the House intelligence committee.
Here’s what the transcript says. The part that I bring to your attention is in bold.
ROGERS: I’m just saying that there’s a lot of questions we don’t have the answers to, and it goes beyond the bounds of him trying to claim that he’s a whistleblower, which he is not. A whistleblower comes to the appropriate authorities with appropriate classifications so that we can investigate any possible claim. He didn’t do that. He grabbed up information. He made preparations to go to China, and then he collected it up, bolted to China, and then decided he was going to disclose very sensitive national security information, including, by the way, that benefits the Chinese and other adversaries when it comes to intelligence relationships. I just find that that — that doesn’t comport with the story, and it certainly doesn’t comport with the story that the media is portraying about some have called a hero. I think he’s betrayed his country, and he should be treated just like that.
CROWLEY: As a final question, I want to turn to some home grown politics here and ask you about your decision not to run for the Senate…
No, Candy Crowley. Just… no. You do not let Mike Rogers invoke the established procedures for whistleblowers to get a hearing within the system without asking him if he thinks the track record is good for previous whistleblowers who did just that. Because the track record is terrible! This is from a column in The Guardian by Thomas Drake, a whistleblower who did as Rogers recommended:
…in accordance with the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, I took my concerns up within the chain of command, to the very highest levels at the NSA, and then to Congress and the Department of Defense. I understand why Snowden has taken his course of action, because he’s been following this for years: he’s seen what’s happened to other whistleblowers like me.
By following protocol, you get flagged – just for raising issues. You’re identified as someone they don’t like, someone not to be trusted. I was exposed early on because I was a material witness for two 9/11 congressional investigations. In closed testimony, I told them everything I knew – about Stellar Wind, billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse, and the critical intelligence, which the NSA had but did not disclose to other agencies, preventing vital action against known threats. If that intelligence had been shared, it may very well have prevented 9/11.
But as I found out later, none of the material evidence I disclosed went into the official record. It became a state secret even to give information of this kind to the 9/11 investigation.
I reached a point in early 2006 when I decided I would contact a reporter. I had the same level of security clearance as Snowden. If you look at the indictment from 2010, you can see that I was accused of causing “exceptionally grave damage to US national security”. Despite allegations that I had tippy-top-secret documents, In fact, I had no classified information in my possession, and I disclosed none to the Baltimore Sun journalist during 2006 and 2007. But I got hammered: in November 2007, I was raided by a dozen armed FBI agents, when I was served with a search warrant. The nightmare had only just begun, including extensive physical and electronic surveillance.
We know that Edward Snowden was aware of this history because he told the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman about it.
Whistleblowers before him, he said, had been destroyed by the experience. Snowden wanted “to embolden others to step forward,” he wrote, by showing that “they can win.”
Here’s what national security reporter James Risen of the New York Times said the same day on Meet the Press about this breezy claim that Snowden should have followed procedure, instead of going public.
And I think one of the reasons that’s happened and has repeatedly happened throughout the War on Terror is that the system, the internal system for whistle-blowing, for the watchdog and oversight system is broken. There is no good way for anyone inside the government do go through the chain of command and report about something like this. They all fear retaliation, they fear prosecution.
And so most whistleblowers, the really, the only way they now have is to go to the press or to go to someone, go outside like Snowden did. He chose people in the press to go to. He picked and chose who he wanted. But the problem is people inside the system who try to go through the chain of command get retaliated against, punished, and they–
–eventually learn not to do it anymore.
The system is broken. (See also this account in USA Today.) So I’m sorry, Candy Crowley, but it is simply not good enough – you are not doing your job well – when you permit Mike Rogers to say what he said about whistleblowers without following up, especially when the topic to which you shifted is how Rogers feels about his decision not to run for Senate. You have to be better prepared. You have to know your stuff. You have to mute your instinct to reduce everything to the next election. This is serious business. We need interviewers who are dead serious about holding people accountable for what they say. So please: get with it.
Related: Politics: some / Politics: none. Two ways to excel in political journalism. Neither dominates. “Edward Snowden’s decision to leak to Greenwald, and Glenn’s domination of newsland for several days, tells us that politics: none is not the only way of excelling in journalism. It now has to share the stage with politics: some.”