Exclusive to WhoWhatWhy: The Barrett Brown Podcast

Barrett Brown, Suzie Dawson, John Kiriakou
Barrett Brown (left), Suzie Dawson and John Kiriakou Photo credit: Barrett Brown, Suzie Dawson, Slowking4 / Wikimedia (CC BY-NC)

Back in February of this year, WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman spoke with Barrett Brown in one of his first interviews since being released from federal prison. Brown was incarcerated for four years for hacking the private intelligence firm Stratfor. This exploit — for which the hacker group Anonymous took credit — revealed that Stratfor was one of many companies hired to spy on activist groups on behalf of US corporations.

At the time Brown spoke of his plans to once again be active in a number of causes and to make his voice heard. One of the ways he’s now doing that is with a regular podcast on WhoWhyWhy, where he feels at home. Brown told us recently:

“The piece published by WhoWhatWhy in 2013 was the first to provide a comprehensive explanation of what it was that my associates and I had uncovered to prompt one of the most bizarre and draconian criminal investigations in public memory. Four years later, that article remains the single most comprehensive summary of the private-public intelligence nexus that my Project PM organization documented. Well before The New York Times and its ilk came to understand what my case meant for the country as a whole, WhoWhatWhy had already told the story best.”

In his first podcast, Brown talks to Suzie Dawson, the leader of New Zealand’s Internet Party. Dawson explains that the party is an attempt to modernize the out-of-date politics and political system in New Zealand. To drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

In her view, New Zealand has been converted into a proxy of the United States, and has been subjected to the full weight of the US security state.

Brown speaks next with John Kiriakou, who helped reveal the CIA torture program in 2007. Kiriakou tells Brown he has learned that being a whistleblower is not enough and that more direct activism may be required. This is not to say that whistleblowers can’t have an impact — the revelations of Edward Snowden being the prime example. Kiriakou says that “before Ed Snowden, it was Tom Drake, and Bill Binney, and Jeff Sterling, and me, and Chelsea Manning, but it was really Snowden that made this a national and international issue.”

Brown himself takes a few minutes to talk about the rule of law, how it’s being misused and how it’s being portrayed as something more than it really is. How and why do we give our institutions more credit than they deserve?


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Full Text Transcript:

 

As a service to our readers, we provide transcripts with our podcasts. We try to ensure that these transcripts do not include errors. However, due to resource constraints, we are not always able to proofread them as closely as we would like, and we hope that you will excuse any errors that slipped through.

Barrett Brown: This is Barrett Brown. Thanks for listening to our WhoWhatWhy podcast. Today we’ll be speaking to a couple of 21st century’s more interesting figures. One of them is John Kiriakou. He’s a former CIA employee, who chose to blow the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for that he ended up in prison. We’re also talking to Suzie Dawson, a leader of New Zealand’s Internet Party, one of the more interesting and promising phenomena to come into western politics over the last few years.
  Suzie Dawson is a leader of New Zealand’s Internet Party. Internet Party is one of these very necessary and very recently established political organizations throughout the world that are trying to change the framework of the conversation by bringing up the larger, more fundamental issues of liberty, censorship, individual sovereignty, and human rights. They’ve done great work in bringing attention to the manner in which intelligence agencies, in particular, have violated national sovereignty of democratic western countries and the ways in which our own governments fail us. Suzie Dawson, calling from Moscow.
  Tell me about the New Zealand’s Internet Party, and what you guys are … what your emphasis is right now?
Suzie Dawson: The Internet Party is an attempt to up the date politics and the political system in New Zealand to try and drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. So, …
Barrett Brown: It sounds like a tall order.
Suzie Dawson: It’s definitely a tall order. Unfortunately, New Zealand has been converted into a proxy state of the United States of America, and we have been subjected to the full weight of the U.S. security state, and the Internet Party is attempting to combat that and to re-assert New Zealand sovereignty.
Barrett Brown: How … to what extent do you think that the issue of, for example, the fly-bys and New Zealand’s sort of subsidiary status within the intelligence community run by the U.S., to what extent do you think that has resonance, potential resonance, among New Zealand citizens?
Suzie Dawson: It’s a huge deal to New Zealand citizens. New Zealand sovereignty is really important to us. So, basically, in the ’80s, we declared ourselves nuclear-free, and that was the result of years of massive street protest in New Zealand and police beating people on the street. Finally, the government was forced to capitulate through the will of New Zealanders, and declare us anti-nuclear. And that is one of the things about New Zealand’s history that New Zealand citizens are the most proud of. The United States’ response to that was to exclude us from the Five Eyes, and the Five Eyes actually became the Four Eyes of Canada, U.S., U.K., and Australia. And that’s something that we are taught growing up in New Zealand is one of, like, it’s like the shining, most proud moment in our history.
  Unfortunately, in 2008, a federal reserve banker from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in America, an ex-J.P. Morgan derivatives trader, called John Keith, returned to New Zealand and ended up becoming prime minister, and ever since, the, his government has been undoing all of that social progress in New Zealand, and fully reverting us back into a vassal state. So, in 2012 and 2013, we began a movement against the New Zealand spy agency, the GCSB, which is one of the Five Eyes. And that movement spread nation-wide, and we had dozens of cities, and tens of thousands of people protesting against illegal spying of New Zealand citizens by the GCSB. So this is definitely a huge, huge and contemporary issue for New Zealanders.
Barrett Brown: And this is an issue that’s not being sufficiently pushed, I suppose, by the larger parties?
Suzie Dawson: They, as the movement became larger and more successful, most of the big parties in New Zealand, with the exception of the ruling party, did get on board, but their solution to it was for us to vote in the 2014 election, general election, and in the meantime, the government just went ahead and pushed through legislation under urgency to retroactively legalize the illegal spying on New Zealand citizens. And then sure enough, the election didn’t actually change anything, so now, years later, in 2017, we find ourselves in the same situation, of being reliant upon electoral politics to try to fix this, while the security state continues to legislate its way into more and more draconian powers.
Barrett Brown: Now, as The Hill, U.S. website covering politics, reported a few days ago, there’s been some revelations that the NSA is still to some degree calling the shots in New Zealand’s intelligence community. We don’t know exactly how they’re doing it, with some cooperation from the intelligence community there, but at any rate, they had illegally, I’m quoting from the real article, they had, “illegally used technology to spy on Megaupload’s founder of Kim Dotcom” and this came from documents gleaned from New Zealand’s communications security bureau. What since then — this came out a couple of days ago — has there been any more ideas on what this process is and what else, if there’s any implications … Do you think there’s a more comprehensive effort, successful effort by the NSA to spy on New Zealanders who the U.S. has an interest in?
Suzie Dawson: This is a story that has just continued to evolve and there’s constant revelations and they just get more shocking by the minute. So the initial revelation back in 2012 was that the GCSB had illegally spied on Kim Dotcom. Then that turns into the GCSB had illegally spied on 88 New Zealand citizens, including Kim Dotcom, who was then a permanent resident. Then in 2016, in August, The Intercept and Nicky Hager for TV interview, reported on the fact that the first target, the first one of 88 targets was named and they reported that he had in fact been targeted not just by the GCSB, but by the National Security Agency in America, at the behest of the New Zealand government. What we found out this week, is that not only did the NSA, who was initially involved in the spying, but it appears that the NSA were in fact operating the GCSB’s spying apparatus, and continued to do so even after the GCSB claimed that it was no longer spying on Kim Dotcom.
  So this raises massive questions, not only about our government being complicit in supplying the private data of its own citizens to a foreign power, and even ordering a foreign power to spy on its own citizens, but now the suggestion that in fact the NSA has direct access to the spying systems of the New Zealand government, and can wield them at will against citizens, even after our own government supposedly had stopped spying on them.
Barrett Brown: In the U.S., obviously, there have been a series of revelations about the broad and previously unknown powers of the NSA and other intelligence apparatus in the last few years. It’s taken a great deal of misconduct, you know, to the extent that even Congress stepped in and did slightly rant on the NSA after this came to light, to bring attention to this, and bring sort of sustained distress in front of the citizenry. In New Zealand, something of this nature, is this going to have a more profound effect on the citizens’ discontent, this kind of, this kind of conduct, will this be something that will play a much larger role in New Zealand politics over the next few months?
Suzie Dawson: We’re in a very similar situation to what you guys are in the States, which is that our citizens are now completely aware of what has been happening. They don’t agree with what the government has been doing. They have taken action and engaged in activism to try to prevent it, and the government just gives the proverbial middle finger to the citizenry, and does what the hell it wants to anyway with total disregard for the will of the people.
  So, the question now, is what next? So this is why the #AntiSpyBill campaign, the Internet Party is running, is about. It’s saying, “Okay, if you guys are going to pass laws that we don’t agree with, that aren’t in our best interest, and you’re going to do so in violation of our human rights and international law, then maybe it’s time that we start writing the legislation. Maybe it’s time that we get regular people, everyday people, who are knowledgeable about these things into positions of power. Maybe it’s time that we take some of the power away from the politicians and away from the government and decentralize and distribute it amongst our own population. Because we clearly can not trust them to represent our interest. They’re clearly act only in their own interests, and even worse, they’re clearly beholden to foreign power.”
  So, there was an amazing Snowden document that Glenn Greenwald reported on a couple of years back, and in that document, at an NSA conference, they were essentially bragging that no matter which government gets into power in any given country, it makes no difference to the Five Eyes. Whether it’s a left-wing government or a right-wing government or whatever, they actually don’t care, because the NSA is around for 30 or 40 years at a time, their bureaucrats and their top guys that are in charge. Whereas a government is around for three years or four years or eight years. And so the governments come and go, the politicians come and go, but the people who are in charge of this vast power are completely unfazed by politics. That is a real major problem.
Barrett Brown: Yeah, it’s a problem in a number of countries. So, last question, in New Zealand, something like this, is this going to stay in the national consciousness for quite a while or is it going to dissipate and get submerged by other issues, as happened in the U.S.?
Suzie Dawson: Well, the reality TV show that is politics, the puppetry theater of politics, continues unabated. However, this is an issue that has been around in the national consciousness for five years, and definitely isn’t going away. The question is, what are the solutions? So we know what the problems are, but what are the solutions? We think that the solution is to empower the citizenry for self-governance and to give them the tools of, similar to what we saw in Iceland. So, in Iceland, people actually came en masse, demanded resignations of the parliament, and then crowd-sourced their own constitution. That’s a similar kind of direction that we’re going in New Zealand. We want to give people back their say in their future and to give them the tools to make decisions for their own future and not have them be dependent upon the New Zealand version of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to decide their future.
Barrett Brown: Suzie Dawson, thank you very much for joining us.
Suzie Dawson: You’re so welcome. Thank you.
B

Barrett

Brown:

 

We’re speaking next to John Kiriakou. Kiriakou, as many of you know, is a former CIA agent, who made the decision to let the public know what the CIA was doing, in this case, that it was committing torture. And for that, he suffered. He was prosecuted, very irregularly, ended up doing a few years in prison. While in prison, he was harassed further by the authorities for simply speaking, writing in articles about his experiences. John Kiriakou, I’ve had a great deal of trouble with your name over the years, but I wanted to talk to you today about what happens next?

  You have been one of almost a dozen national figures in the last 10 years who have come to some degree of prominence, having engaged in whistle-blowing, leaking, what you might call, enhanced transparency activism. You helped to reveal the CIA’s torture program, and in the process ran afoul of the U.S. government, who came after you, in very dramatic and arguably unlawful ways. Is it enough to leak and to report and to whistle-blow in a country such as this?
John Kiriakou: I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not enough, frankly. I used to think that it was. I used to think that it was our patriotic and constitutional duty to blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just simply not enough, because we have not yet convinced the American people that this is the right thing to do. We have not yet convinced the American people that they have a right to know what their government is doing in their name. And so, the only way to do that, I’ve concluded, is we have to take to the streets. If the government is not going to follow its own laws, we have to force them to follow their laws, and we can only do that if we disrupt the status quo.
Barrett Brown: In your experience, having spoken to people in your capacity as a whistle-blower, since getting out of prison, do you think that there are more people in the mainstream, who agree with that assessment than there would have been ten years ago?
John Kiriakou: Yeah, I think so. I think 10 years ago, people generally didn’t even think about these issues. I wish I could take credit for some of it. I think I cannot. I think that really the guy who put this on the map was Ed Snowden. You know, before Ed Snowden, it was Tom Drake, and Bill Binney, and Jeff Sterling, and me, and Chelsea Manning, but it was really Snowden that made this a national and international issue. People certainly have been polarized by Snowden, but I think we’ve seen actual, real, quantifiable, positive movement in Congress just because of Snowden.
  You know, we’ve seen elements for example of the Patriot Act that have not been renewed, because of Snowden. And we’ve seen these issues that Snowden informed us about where people on the left and on the right can come together, and agree just in the name of civil liberties.
Barrett Brown: You have a background in government. You were a CIA employee for quite a while, and you know, in that capacity you obviously have sort of a working model of how agencies work, whether it be the CIA or anything else. When you were in prison, did that experience dealing with the Bureau of Prisons, did that give you additional insight into how these institutions work in terms of the personnel and their dramas and their animosities?
John Kiriakou: Oh, you know, I thought that it would, Barrett, and I was just horribly mistaken. And it was because I’ve never seen a collection of mental defectives like I saw in the Bureau of Prisons in my life. You know, I said this to a friendly administrator one time, I said, “You know, I’ve spent 20 years in government, between the CIA and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Federal Investigation, I mean I thought I knew government. And I was always perplexed, when I would see, when I would see average Joes on the street saying, “We’ve got to stop the fat cats in Washington. Government doesn’t work for me.” Et cetera, et cetera. I never understood that, until I got to prison.
  There’s a great book, by a guy named Peter Moskos. He’s a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College. And he said in his most recent book that the Bureau of Prisons is really nothing more than an employment agency for otherwise unemployable, uneducated, unskilled, rural white guys. That is absolutely true.
  I would add to that. I would add that every Bureau of Prisons employee that I encountered, male or female, was a loser, who couldn’t cut it anywhere else in government. They had a tour, somewhere in the military, and came back, expecting to be treated like heroes. They either washed out of the local police academy or couldn’t get in in the first place, and the only place that would have them was the Bureau of Prisons. Because remember, to be employed in the Bureau of Prisons, the only qualifications are that you have to be at least working on a GED and you have to have no felony convictions. So, you get what you pay for. You get these bums, who just can’t work anywhere else. And that’s the Bureau of Prisons today. There’s no rehabilitation, there’s no job training, there’s no education. And the Bureau of Prisons accounts for a quarter of the Justice Department’s budget. Every cent of that money either goes to just incarcerating people, or the money’s wasted. It doesn’t go to rehabilitating or reforming anybody.
Barrett Brown: You and I both had a similar experience, I presume one of several similar experiences. You were writing an ongoing sort of column for a website, while you were incarcerated, and at some point, you were retaliated against for that. And they intended to disrupt that. And that was made public. I remember even hearing about it from where I was imprisoned. What does it tell us that when this gets out, and when a nationally known leaker, for, a veteran of government, CIA veteran, former senate associate, someone who’s worked with our legislative body, is shown, is demonstrably known to have been illegally retaliated against for writing about his experiences in prison, and that gets out, nothing is done about it. What does that tell us about the options available to us as a citizenry?
John Kiriakou: Really, you have to just take your own future into your hands. I’ve got to tell you, I have such deep respect for the way you did it. You were more courageous than I was.
  After my first blog, which I called Letters from Loretto, a cousin of mine came to visit me in prison. And he got into the visitors’ room, finally, and then they let me in, and before we could even, you know, sit down and start talking, he said, “Listen, I just heard something, and I gotta tell you, ’cause I think it’s important.” He said, “I was out in the waiting area and I heard two cops talking about you.” He said that one of them said, “Who’s that guy here to visit?” “Oh, he’s here to visit Kiriakou.” “The CIA guy? How come that guy’s not in the shoe (in solitary confinement).” And the first cop says, “I asked the warden that, but the warden said we can’t put him in solitary, because he didn’t use any of our names.”
  I said to my cousin, “Does he have any idea what important intelligence that is? That means I can say anything I want, and so long as I don’t use their names, they can’t retaliate against me.” Well, they could have, actually. They could have concocted something, but I naively thought that I could just say whatever I wanted. Well, I continued to say whatever I wanted and then finally, an administrator warned me on the QT, that they were talking about silencing me by putting me in diesel therapy. And what diesel therapy is, for your listeners who don’t know, is they will put you on a prison bus and send you to the U.S. penitentiary, let’s say, in Canaan, Pennsylvania, which is a transportation hub. From there they send you to Harrisburg Airport and you fly to U.S. penitentiary Atlanta. From there you fly to Oklahoma City, which is the national transportation hub. And then after that, from prison to prison, and you’re staying anywhere from three days to six months in any prison, the whole time being in transit status.
  The thing is, is when you’re in transit status, you’re not permitted access to a phone, a computer, or pens and paper and stamps. And so they can argue that they’re not punishing you, they’re just moving you to another prison because of overcrowding, and in fact, they’ve silenced you. So, as soon as I heard that they were planning to do this to me, I wrote a blog, and I sent it out immediately.
  And the way I used to get my blogs out, because these guys were such morons, they were convinced that I was dictating it by cellphone, and so they were constantly coming down, looking for a cellphone. There was no cellphone. I was just using their own stupid rules. I would write these blogs. I’d mail one in legal mail to my attorney, one in special mail to the publisher of the website, and one to my wife. All they had to do was look to see what I was mailing out, but it never occurred to them that I was actually doing it by the rules.
  And so I wrote this blog saying, “Hey, they’re going to put me in diesel therapy, and this is what diesel therapy is.” And immediately people started tweeting. John Cusack tweeted, “Hands off John Kiriakou.” Oliver Stone, Sean Ono Lennon. I mean, serious, well-known people started tweeting. And then Code Pink told me, that Medea Benjamin, the head of Code Pink, told me that they had made 1600 calls to the head of the Bureau of Prisons telling him to back off and leave me alone. And it was that publicity that saved me. Now, when I said that you were more courageous about this than I was, it’s because you used their names and even after they punished you, you continued to use their names. And I’ll tell you, I used to laugh every time I would read one of those articles and then by the time I got home, I think I tweeted that you had balls of steel, for just continuing to take them on, regardless of the fall-out. It was great.
Barrett Brown: The warden who, like a lot of wardens I think, was really unfamiliar with the exact rules on inmates and media response and that sort of thing. You’re actually allowed to use their last names, and incredibly, you’re allowed to use their first names as well. They just, they take, obviously, they take steps to not let you know what their first names are, but that information can be obtained pretty easily if you’re a journalist, for instance, or a former CIA guy, you can probably figure out…
John Kiriakou: Well, I’ll tell you what I did …
 
  … as soon as I got home. I just went on LinkedIn, and I typed in …
 
  … FBI Loretto, Pennsylvania. And boom, there they are. And then LinkedIn has connections to Facebook and to Twitter and I got all their names. And in some cases, I got their home addresses.
Barrett Brown: Did you ever file an administrative remedy?
John Kiriakou: Many, many times. You know, I read a piece that you wrote just recently about, in fact, I posted it on Facebook, about the fallacy that there is a workable administrative remedy process. There is not. It’s all a big lie. You know, they have a certain number of days to respond, and instead they take months to respond, and just backdate it, and then you don’t have a chance to respond. So [crosstalk 00:24:25] …
Barrett Brown: … there’s a filing practice. Even if you do get that to court, and I should know, because I was listening, administrative remedy is something that was implemented in 1996 by Congress, which passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and what that did was, it forced inmates, who would like to challenge their confinement, like let’s say, you’re been starved or beaten every day or kept in the hole perpetually, if you want to go to a court and challenge your captors, and saying they’re depriving you of due process, you first have to fill out this administrative remedy form and then turn it in, and then wait for them to reply, and then fill out another form and send that to the regional office, and wait for them to reply, and then send out another form to the national office, and wait for them to reply, and they can have all number of extensions. Even under the rules, it takes a long time.
  The thing is that they violate the rules constantly and they do so because there’s no consequences, even if you get to court and say, “Hey, they didn’t reply to this correctly” or “This guy refused to fill out this form.” Or “They put me in the shoe for doing this.” It doesn’t result in any consequences. And you have a machine with no negative feedback. And that’s what this country is in many ways. It’s a machine with no negative feedback. It’s a machine that can engage in all sorts of malfeasance, and does, for the simple reason that we don’t apply the, sort of, penalogical idea that we must punish people who’ve been committing crimes. But we don’t apply that same idea to the government. We don’t hold prosecutors accountable for withholding evidence, as they did in my case, and probably yours as well. We don’t hold FBI agents in contempt for engaging in perjury on the stand. So they do it quite a bit, and that’s something everyone familiar with the system, former prosecutors, can tell you. And that speaks to a larger problem.
  John, thank you very much for joining us [crosstalk 00:26:08]
John Kiriakou: The pleasure’s mine. Thanks for having me.
 
 
Barrett Brown: A few months ago, the Rolling Stone Magazine ran an article about someone who took their citizenship seriously and got arrested for it. This fellow had seen reports on the internet about a little girl who was being held at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. The girl had been brought to the hospital after having being diagnosed elsewhere with a very painful condition, mitochondrial disease. Upon arriving, the doctors at Boston’s Children diagnosed her with something else. They said it was psychosomatic, that she wasn’t actually suffering any pain. It was all in her head and she didn’t need her medication and she didn’t need pain treatment. And when her parents objected and tried to take her out of the hospital, security guards stopped them.
  Boston Children’s, like a lot of hospitals, but more so than others, engages in something that they refer to informally as a “parentdectomy”, when they decide that the parents are not properly overseeing their child’s health. In this case, they said that they had failed to get her the psychological help she needed, instead having her treated for some physical condition that they were absolutely sure she didn’t have. The previous doctor, who had diagnosed her originally and put her on the medication, wrote an angry letter to them, explaining that, you know, explaining the nature of the diagnosis and the background to it. They ignored that. Her parents sought all kinds of remedies, but they were prevented from seeing their own child now. The state had taken custody. They filed complaints. Others filed complaints. They got involved with some activists, a religious group, and that didn’t work.
  So this fellow that we’re talking about, he learned about all of this. You know, it started about three years ago. And also filed complaints. He had done the same thing in other situations when he had become aware of abuse at a children’s home, also run by the state, and contacted the FBI, state agencies for children, child’s welfare, all that, and he’d already learnt in those other situations that those things don’t necessarily work. So what he did was, after being contacted by someone who identified with the Anonymous movement that I happened to be a bit involved with back in the day, he learned how to hack. He learned how to set up social media campaigns. He learned how to bring attention to matters. And he learned how to infiltrate websites. And so, when Boston Children’s had a fundraiser, shortly afterwards, he hacked their website, and he did it to bring attention to this girl’s situation, which again, although having been mentioned here and there on the internet, hadn’t really reached that threshold of attention that prompts action. And he was found by the FBI afterwards and arrested.
  This is an interesting story. It resonates with previous stories we’ve seen, that I’ve been involved with myself, in which people grow frustrated with the institutions that we’ve built around ourselves. They realize that it’s not just a matter of the rule of law not always leading to where we’d like it to. It’s more a matter of the rule of law not really existing. If the law applies to only a portion of the population and applies haphazardly and can be violated at will, it doesn’t really exist. That’s kind of the thinking behind vigilantism. Vigilantism is probably problematic, because obviously not everyone who chooses to violate the law for the greater good is going to really be right. There are reasons to have an institutional society, but there are also reasons to go up against it. This fellow, he decided to go up against it.
  I’m bringing attention to this now because some new developments have occurred over the last few days. The wife of this fellow contacted me recently. She showed me some documents, emails, between herself and the lawyer, the public defender, that’s taken her husband’s case, and showed me that she is now being threatened herself by the prosecutor. She had acquired legally, she had paid for a recording and transcript of a previous federal court session, that kind of pertained to this case. It is involved the girl not getting treatment in the first place. And she posted it on YouTube to bring attention to it.
  The prosecutor contacted the public defender, the public defender called her and forwarded an email to her, showing that the prosecutor and apparently some FBI agent involved in this had been scouring the internet for mentions of the case. He’d come across this video that she posted, and were now accusing her having surreptitiously recorded the federal court session in question. She explained again that she did no such thing, that the prosecutor should well know that you can obtain recordings of court room sessions. You can buy them from the court. And that she had receipts and all that to indicate that.
  This, this is kind of a … This is a great case in the sense of being indicative. It’s indicative of this larger problem of the rule of law being used despite its own fractures. And being portrayed as something more solid than it really is, as something more ethically monolithic than it actually turns out to be in practice. The rule of law is enforced by men. That’s the inherent flaw there. But more specifically, it involves the monstrosity that we ourselves maintain, when we give institutions credit where credit is not due.
  Prosecutorial misconduct is very common. Studies have been done over the past few years showing that, for instance, out of 2500 cases in which sentences were either vacated or reduced by another judge after prosecutorial misconduct hadn’t been, you know, accepted by the court. Of those 2500 cases, 40 of those prosecutors who had engaged in misconduct, with withholding evidence, for instance, were reprimanded. One of them actually served jail time. One fellow lied in court, withheld evidence, and a man did 20 years in prison because of it. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and he served five.
  That kind of society, you know, regardless of the problems that are inherent to vigilanteism and civil disobedience and that sort of thing and leaking and whistle-blowing, that sort of society asks for civil disobedience. And that’s something that as people were less inclined to agree with 10 years ago, but the deterioration of our institutions, which has been very much on display in the last few years, especially with this situation with Trump and Hillary Clinton, and the DOJ and the FBI. When you see our elected leaders themselves calling into question these institutions, usually for partisan reasons, but sometimes very much based on facts, then we see an opening, this is a chance for an actual conversation about what we’ve built up, and what we’ve become, and that’s important. That’s something that needs to be pursued. It needs to be the chief priority, beyond any particular issue, beyond any particular elected official, who may have committed crimes. We need to look at the wider issue, the larger problem that we’ve allowed by neglecting it for so long.
  Thanks for listening to our WhoWhatWhy podcast.

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Barrett Brown (Courtesy of Barrett Brown).

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