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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:
No Comment — March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm
On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers
No Comment — November 4, 2013, 5:17 pm
An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath
No Comment — August 12, 2013, 7:55 am
How will the Obama Administration handle Edward Snowden’s case in the long term?
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
“The triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith