SILENCED, a new film about whistleblowers by filmmaker James Spione, is currently in post-production. The film features three Government Accountability Project clients (Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, and Peter Van Buren) and one GAP employee (Jesselyn Radack). Here is the trailer.
The film’s promotional material states it will be “offering an analysis, along with a number of independent experts and thinkers, of what [the whistleblowers'] chilling ordeals mean for the future of our country.”
There is no doubt the individuals involved had good intentions when they blew the whistle on various government wrongdoing. There are, however a few wrinkles in several of their stories that I hope will be explored by the independent expert and thinkers, if not Mr. Spione himself.
For instance, concerning Ms. Radack’s account, will the film explore the fact that the emails she believed to have been purged and denied from the court were, in fact, submitted and denied to John Walker Lindh under the court’s protective order?
Will the film explore the fact that Ms. Radack apparently did not make her disclosure concerning Lindh’s allegedly unconstitutional treatment to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which could have accepted her dislcosure confidentially, thus preventing any breach of the attorney/client privilege?
Will the film explore the fact that Ms. Radack did not, for some reason, appeal her termination with either the Office of Special Counsel or the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, as had been her right as a Department of Justice employee (over which both OSC and MSPB exercise jurisdiction), where no statute or executive order bars such jurisdiction?
Will the film explore Ms. Radack’s stated interest in ensuring that the Office of Special Counsel “scrupulously and fully comply with its statutory obligations to protect federal employees from [prohibited personnel practices],” given OSC’s “immense importance to national security,” before apparently neglecting this interest upon taking a job with the Government Accountability Project?
Will the film explore the fact that Mr. Drake could have, at least under the law, submitted his disclosures to the Office of Special Counsel for referral to Congress, but did not do so, choosing to go to the media with all of the attendant consequences that followed?
Will the film explore the fact that even if the government’s prosecution of Mr. Kiriakou for his admitted violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 was motivated by his public interviews about the CIA’s torture techniques, the government had legally justified grounds to do so, given that whistleblowing is not a shield against misconduct?
Let me clarify: there is no excuse for government torture, wiretapping, or denial of rights. This is, or is supposed to be, a nation of laws. And that applies equally so to whistleblowers who seek to bring misconduct to light. Good government activists, advocates, and filmmakers do the public no favors by presenting one-sided accounts that omit, distort, or mischaracterize the rights and responsibilities that face whistleblowers in the course of committing the truth. I hope this film does nothing of the sort.
P.S. if an activist chooses to engage in non-violent disobedience, more power to him/her. There is a rich and storied history of civil disobedience in America to raise awareness and bring about change. But the key word is “choose.” Civil disobedience is not something that can be elected after ignorantly violating the law and then paying for it. The latter is simply propaganda.