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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:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”