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reprehensor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-13-05 10:16 PM
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Truthtelling with Rowley, Radack and Wright.
(Moderators: This is an original piece, posting in full. -r.)

On August 5th, 2005, I was fortunate enough to sit down for a quick interview with three bona fide patriots; Ann Wright, Coleen Rowley, and Jesselyn Radack. They were in town for the Veterans for Peace National Convention.

The trio had previously come together for the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition event in April, 2005. Ann Wright proposed that they all meet again for the VFP Convention, where they held a workshop for conventioneers called Speaking Truth to Power, and shared their experiences as Truthtellers.

In Jesselyn Radacks case, she might still be working at the Department of Justice if it wasnt for the American Taliban John Walker Lindh;

Jesselyn Radack (JR): I was under criminal investigation for a year and a half, so I was muzzled during that time and under the advice of counsel not to speak with reporters I worked in the Ethics Office at the DOJ, where Id been an attorney for seven years the Criminal Division called wanting to interrogate him (Lindh), in Afghanistan. Based on the ethics rules I said not to do that for a variety of reasons. They came back two days later and said, we did it anyway, what should we do now?

I advised that the interview might have to be sealed and only used for national security or intelligence gathering purposes, not for criminal prosecution. Which as we all know, is how they ended up using it.

But thats not my main complaint. My main complaint is that shortly thereafter I was basically blackmailed with a terrible performance evaluation that was out of the blue, unsigned, and told to find another job, or else it would be put in my permanent file.

And then, heres where it gets worse, the prosecutor which was prosecuting John Walker Lindh contacted me directly and said, as you know there is a Court Discovery order for all department correspondence related to his interrogation. I have two of your emails I wanted to make sure I had everything.

I said, no, not aware of the Court Order, and no, I wrote a lot more than two emails.

And so when I went to find the emails to comply with the Court Order, they were gone. So I resurrected the emails from my computer archives, I resigned, and when it appeared to me that the emails still had not reached the court, I sent them over to Newsweek.

So after that, they were obviously mad, I didnt know how mad they would get, but they got me fired from my private sector job, and put me under criminal investigation. For what, I cannot tell you, because they never told me. That went on for about a year and a half, and as soon as that was over they referred me to the Maryland and D.C. Bars where I am licensed as an attorney, and during that time period, I was also put on the No-fly List

Every time I flew, I had to undergo secondary screening procedures like 19 times. After 19 times I quit collecting the little TSA things they put in your bags every time. I called the TSA Ombudsperson, and they would neither confirm nor deny that I was on the list. One airline told me that I was on the list.

Then, I reported to the ACLU, which had filed a lawsuit and was keeping track of the issue. As far as I know, there is no official way to find out if youre on the list, or to get off of it. Its just that the probability of being stopped 19 times out of the 19 times that you fly is like, one in 3 billion or something, my husband the economist calculated this for me.

And also, when I found out some of the other people who were on the list, people from the ACLU, anti-war protestors, people who seemed to be in some ways political enemies of the administration, it made a little more sense to me. Plus, senior administration officials called me a traitor and a turncoat and a terrorist sympathizer in the New York Times so, in a way its not that surprising that I would end up on a watch-list, I guess.

That was under John Ashcrofts DOJ. I asked Ann Wright if she was on the no-fly list

Ann Wright (AW): I thought I was, under the lead-up to the Presidential election I was doing a lot of flying, a lot of speaking out, not for the Kerry campaign, but speaking about the role of dissent in a democracy, and that citizens need to watch carefully what any administration tells them, particularly this administration. And I dont know if it was a combination of doing a lot of short notice flights, and sometimes one way flights, and then picking up to go to another place, but during that period I would say at least 90% of the time, I was undergoing secondary searches.

But it gave me a great opportunity to recruit among the TSA agents, Id say, No, not a problem, that happens every time.

Theyd say, What do you mean it happens every time?

Id say, Well Im on - - somethings happening, and maybe its because of the talks Im giving. And the flyers, the brochures for my future talks are in the case that youll be going through so please just look at them and see...

And theyd go, Youre against the war? Well, Im against the war! You shouldnt be stopped for this sort of stuff.

So Im not sure if I was on a list, or if it was because I was taking a lot short-notice flights

You might recognize Ann from her appearance in Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War or more recently; John Conyers Downing Street Memo Hearing back on June 16th. She turned in her testimony at the very end of the Hearing and added this spoken statement to the record;

As a 35 year Federal employee, 29 years in the military, and 16 years in the State Dept. Having re-opened our US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December of 2001 the Charges in Sierra Leone when all the trouble happened, in Somalia, in Grenada, in Nicaragua Ive had a lot of experience with the US government, and the trials and tribulations that weve had.

And I would just like to say that this Downing Street Memo is one of the most important documents that Ive seen about all of the things that have happened here about Iraq.

To me, two things in particular; the illegality of the war - - and in fact, I came back specifically for your hearing, I was in Africa in Sierra Leone, (first time in 8 years since I left there), and going through London to talk with the Deputy Legal Counsel of the Foreign Office. A woman who, like myself, resigned from her long years, 30 years, with the British government.

She resigned because Tony Blair refused to accept the very standard analysis by all the government from the year 2002, that a war based on regime change was illegal.

She resigned over that.

The Attorney General of the UK switched his opinion 7 days before the start of the war. The illegality of going to war in the manner that we did is just crushing to me.

The second part, is the provocation that the United States did in Iraq is an aggressive, criminal act, and we need to impeach the President of the United States, and we need to hold in criminal contempt the senior leadership of the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the National Security Council, and the Department of Justice, and the CIA.

And other than that, I think were just doing fine.

Ann is not one to mince words.

By the way, the Downing St. Memo is officially not dead. Ann, Rep. Conyers, Cindy Sheehan, and others are going to Britain in the near future to rekindle the awareness that the memo originally sparked.

AW: and were calling for US government employees to search in their files for the equivalent memos that record the conversations between our officials and UK officials. They are there. They do exist. In the State Dept., the DOD, the National Security Council, and were hoping that just one very patriotic person will say, this is really important for the citizens of America, and Im gonna leak this thing.

But dont call them whistleblowers.

CR: Conscience Follower Truthteller lets get away from these pejorative connotations.

JR: Yeah, youre stereotyped as a troublemaker, or a disgruntled employee or unstable

CE: Conscientious Objector Dissenter I mean really, its just patriotic things that were trying to do - - Daniel Ellsberg calls it the Truthelling Coalition. Its not as good as whistleblower because whistleblower has this certain extra connotation that the other labels seem to miss and you settle for it, because theres not another decent word out there that means exactly the same.

JR: And youre labeled that, but most whistleblowers I dont know anyone that went out in search of that moniker. You were just doing your job and then somehow youre labeled whistleblower, and the first time that happened, Im like, No Im not!

But then it happens over and over, Your Name and Whistleblower

CR: if I was Lakoff, he always says you connote certain visual images with certain words. What do you connote with whistleblower?

Remember Bewitched? The nosy neighbor who used to peek in the window and when she saw Samantha doing witchcraft she actually blew a whistle?

Mrs. Kravitz! Thats it! The nosy neighbor. Obnoxious.

JR: A tattletale!

CR: I see her! Abner, come here! Thats the image that whistleblower connotes. My neural pathways immediately connect to Mrs. Kravitz.

Ok, so its like; Truthtellers of Conscience Who Are Bringing to Light True Concerns, Issues or Illegalities!

JR: And for me before I came here, when Ann invited me I complained to my husband, Well, Im against the war, but I dont know if I can really link my truthtelling to the war and he was like, Of course you can! Its so obvious. Youre telling the truth in an age of lies, and theyve lied and lied and lied

And when I heard that they had a workshop on dissenters and conscientious objectors, it was like listening to my own story, but it took place in the military it was very similar, you get involved in something, you think youre doing your job, you think youre doing the right thing, and then suddenly either quickly or slowly you realize that this is really wrong. So you do the logical thing and start complaining up the chain of command, and when that doesnt work it just sort of snowballs.

Coleen Rowley is a Truthteller because of events before and after 9/11. Her experience with the FBI gave her a unique and personal perspective on what happened that day...

CR: Preceding September 11th, I blame myself for being ONE of the thousands of people who did not do enough. And the main thing I did not do was call up to headquarters to find out what this logjam was.

And of course people say, well it wouldnt have achieved anything. In all probability it may not have changed history if I had called. But at the very least I would have learned some critical things. You never know what you can achieve unless you try them. My motto has become Always Try, and I have dissected not only my own experience, but the Challenger, the Columbia, Ive gone through incident after incident where people did not do what they should or could have done, because of a lot of reasons, a lot of rationalizations, a lot of excuse making, and then later found out if they had just tried, maybe it wouldnt have completely reversed things but it would have made that first step, and maybe with another step, some luck, it could have changed things.

And now after September 11th, there is a secondary effect; which is this kind of cover-up. In my letter I said, well Im not gonna call it a cover-up, thats too strong, however, I will call it puff, shade, skew, firm-up, massage, because theres a strong impetus after something bad has happened not to tell anybody what you did, not to unravel the mistake.

And what I did was, I think, I put the first good dent in the blanket defense that for 8 and a half, 9 months, was holding - that 9/11 could not have been prevented.

It was not true. The 9/11 Commission ultimately found that, but for 9 months you did not hear anybody say that 9/11 could have been prevented because it protected the thousands of people who made some tiny little mistakes, some egregious Tenet, who knew all these dots, Ashcroft, who ranked terrorism his lowest priority in August of 2001, some of them are pretty egregious mistakes

And we werent unraveling ANY of it, we were all settling for, 9/11 could not have been prevented, it was hindsight. Condi Rice, Well, no one could have ever imagined that someone would fly and of course, when she says that, shes disregarding a whole bunch of things. People are letting her get away with it. Shes disregarding the fact of two or three prior incidents of people trying to fly planes into buildings, attempted takeovers of cockpits were also ignoring the fact that in Minneapolis, the acting supervisor, arguing with headquarters said, This is a guy that could fly a plane into the World Trade Center on August 22nd!

And what I wanted is to start unraveling mistakes, because, how are you going to fix them and do better, in a very constructive way if you dont you just get mired and continue down the same stupid path

And for citizens and allies of the United States, the same stupid path has led us into the quagmire of Iraq.

What these Truthtellers tell me is that its time for the citizens of the US to reassert control of their lives, and the destiny of this country. Its time to come to grips with the reality of terrorism, and stop letting the Bush administration, (and subsequent administrations), play on our fears.

Its time for our leaders to take a lesson from FDR; We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

CR: Were not going to be able to prevent terrorism, so we better recognize that its here, and that weve got to do logical, judicious, ways of minimizing the threat, instead of letting the Barney Fifes of the world lead us into even further chaos, and higher threats.

We can reverse it. Its possible to reverse, but its not through listening to Karl Rove.

AW: And the greatest frustration that people have is over their seeming inability to do anything. Well, the greatest way to get rid of that frustration is to do something and it may not be the perfect thing, and it may not ultimately amount to a hill of beans on one level, but it does amount to something in that persons individual psyche and their ability to take back control of they feel about things.

We were talking to these men who went to prison, because they refused to go to war, and they said, when they went to prison, they felt the most free. That freed them.

Before I resigned, I was sent down from Mongolia where I was assigned, to Singapore, because they thought I was having a heart attack. I was suffering all the physical symptoms of a heart attack

the day I resigned, all the symptoms left. The physical manifestations of internal trauma

CR: You know who had a big, bad case of that internal trauma? The Security Moms! The component that voted for Bush last time, the big changeover vote, they gave a bad case of this to the Security Moms.

They wont admit it, but thats what they did. And it brings out the worst in peoples mindsets, and also in their ability to be judicious.

JR: I concur.

I concur.


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