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As a young lawyer, Obama represented a whistleblower; as a presidential candidate, he pledged to “strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government.” But as president, Obama has unleashed the most aggressive assault on whistleblowers Washington has ever seen—surpassing even George W. Bush. The latest example comes in a remarkable prosecution of Steven Kim, a well-known scholar of North Korea’s nuclear program.
Like most area experts at the top of the game, Kim does consulting for the State Department. He works for Lawrence Livermore Labs and was on secondment to the State Department at the time of the events in question. Now, however, Kim finds himself under indictment by the Justice Department. His crime? He spoke to Fox News about how the North Koreans were likely to react to proposed sanction measures. Former prosecutor and Johns Hopkins professor Ruth Wedgwood says that the Fox News report “contains completely unremarkable observations about what a country would do if it was sanctioned for its poor behavior. These kinds of observations were well known to anyone paying attention to public sources and ought not be the basis for making someone a federal felon.” I couldn’t agree more.
Assistant Attorney General David Kris brought the charges. The Kim prosecution is portrayed by him as a “warning to anyone who is entrusted with sensitive national security information and would consider compromising it.” To prohibit discussing such “sensitive” information is effectively to censor public debate about vital facts relating to international affairs and possibly to war. As Kris and his friends would have it, we’re supposed to be kept ignorant while the national-security state cares for us all. It’s also noteworthy that the Obama Justice Department gets worked up when the “leaks” benefit media with a critical attitude towards the administration, Fox News.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Number of tombstones in Tombstone, Arizona:
Electrofishing on the Irrawaddy River deters dolphins from their habit of assisting fishermen.
Trump tweeted that “millions of people” had illegally cast ballots in last month’s presidential election, and the Washington Post identified four cases of voter fraud across the country.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."