NPR’s Fresh Air: ‘Frontline’ Doc Explores How Sept. 11 Created Today’s NSA
Tonight, PBS’s Frontline will air the first of two episodes focusing on the inner-workings of the National Security Agency (NSA), illustrating that the current overreaching surveillance state was jumpstarted by the 9/11 attacks and how whistleblowers were harshly retaliated against for raising concerns. The documentary, United States of Secrets, explains how the federal government “came to spy on millions of ordinary Americans – and the extraordinary lengths taken to keep the effort hidden.” The second part of the series, which airs next week, “concerns the perhaps too-cozy relationship between the government and Silicon Valley.”
The episode tonight features multiple GAP clients including NSA whistleblowers Tom Drake, J. Kirk Wiebe and Bill Binney. Both Wiebe and Binney gave an interview to NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday. Click to watch a trailer or clip of tonight’s program.
This investigative report looks into the actions of the Global Fund, an international institution that fights to prevent fatal diseases including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. But the Fund has come under strong criticism for its failure to fight massive fraud and retaliating against whistleblowing officials who have raised serious concerns. The piece touches on the case of John Parsons, the institution’s former Inspector General who was fired after discovering corruption and fraud in grants. GAP Executive & International Director Bea Edwards is interviewed.
The piece recently won a Corruption Reporting Award from One World Media.
Key Quote (Edwards): “(Parsons) was told that he should soften up reports, that his site visits should be curtailed, (that) he should be a little more lenient in the conclusions that he drew … and that was pressure brought to bear on his office. Then he’s asked to certify that his office is acting independently, and he says ‘No.'”
Marine Corps General James Amos has responded to a congressman regarding an ongoing whistleblower case. The Pentagon Inspector General is investigating a whistleblower’s claim that Amos asserted “unlawful command influence” in trying to “dictate punishment in the cases of Marines charged with wrongdoing in a video of snipers urinating on Taliban corpses in July 2011 in Afghanistan.” Amos’ response, sent to Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), constituted “a weak legalistic dodge” according to a retired Marine judge advocate.
Key Quote: Reached by email, Weirick offered a brief statement: “As the most important questions were not answered because of the ongoing IG investigation, it is imperative that the investigation is concluded in a timely manner.”
Gary Solis, a retired Marine judge advocate who now teaches law at Georgetown and George Washington universities, called the commandant’s response “a weak legalistic dodge,” saying Jones’ question about Waldhauser could be germane should any of the Marines punished for the urination video appeal their cases. The Marine Corps and the public deserve a “forthright honest answer,” he said.
Amos “won’t comment because the IG is investigating the matter,” Solis said. “That might satisfy if it were a criminal matter being investigated by police or prosecutors. But the IG’s investigation is an administrative matter, highly unlikely to involve criminal charges.”
A federal civil rights complaint has been filed against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill regarding its ‘paper-class’ scandal. In its complaint, the Student Athletes Human Rights Project alleges that a disproportionate number of African-American students were pushed through the system of no-show classes. Federal investigators are looking into the complaint and spoke last week to Mary Willingham, the whistleblower who revealed both the ‘paper-class’ and revenue-sport student athlete literacy scandals.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.