This is How the U.S. Government Destroys the Lives of Patriotic Whistleblowers

We live in a time and within a culture where the best amongst us are thrown in jail, demonized or destroyed, while the worst are celebrated, promoted and enriched. Nothing more clearly crystalizes this sad state of affairs than the U.S. government’s ruthless war on whistleblowers who expose severe constitutional violations by those in power. This war knows no political affiliation, and has been waged with equal vigor by the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.

Earlier this morning, I read one of the most enlightening articles on the subject to-date. It was published back in May, and should be read by every single American citizen. We need to admit to ourselves what we have become before we can make changes.

What follows are excerpts from the Guardian piece, How the Pentagon Punished NSA Whistleblowers, but you should really take the time to read the entire thing.

If you want to know why Snowden did it, and the way he did it, you have to know the stories of two other men.

The first is Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same NSA activities 10 years before Snowden did. Drake was a much higher-ranking NSA official than Snowden, and he obeyed US whistleblower laws, raising his concerns through official channels. And he got crushed.

Drake was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally. The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today. Adding insult to injury, his warnings about the dangers of the NSA’s surveillance program were largely ignored.

But there is another man whose story has never been told before, who is speaking out publicly for the first time here. His name is John Crane, and he was a senior official in the Department of Defense who fought to provide fair treatment for whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake – until Crane himself was forced out of his job and became a whistleblower as well.

His testimony reveals a crucial new chapter in the Snowden story – and Crane’s failed battle to protect earlier whistleblowers should now make it very clear that Snowden had good reasons to go public with his revelations.

During dozens of hours of interviews, Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake’s identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge.

“Name one whistleblower from the intelligence community whose disclosures led to real change – overturning laws, ending policies – who didn’t face retaliation as a result. The protections just aren’t there,” Snowden told the Guardian this week. “The sad reality of today’s policies is that going to the inspector general with evidence of truly serious wrongdoing is often a mistake. Going to the press involves serious risks, but at least you’ve got a chance.”

“None of the lawful whistleblowers who tried to expose the government’s warrantless surveillance – and Drake was far from the only one who tried – had any success,” Devine told me. “They came forward and made their charges, but the government just said, ‘They’re lying, they’re paranoid, we’re not doing those things.’ And the whistleblowers couldn’t prove their case because the government had classified all the evidence. Whereas Snowden took the evidence with him, so when the government issued its usual denials, he could produce document after document showing that they were lying. That is civil disobedience whistleblowing.”

Crane’s testimony is not simply a clue to Snowden’s motivations and methods: if his allegations are confirmed in court, they could put current and former senior Pentagon officials in jail. (Official investigations are quietly under way.)

But Crane’s account has even larger ramifications: it repudiates the position on Snowden taken by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – who both maintain that Snowden should have raised his concerns through official channels because US whistleblower law would have protected him…

Within weeks of the September 11 attacks, Drake was assigned to prepare the NSA’s postmortem on the disaster. Congress, the news media and the public were demanding answers: what had gone wrong at the NSA and other federal agencies to allow Osama bin Laden’s operatives to conduct such a devastating attack?

As Drake interviewed NSA colleagues and scoured the agency’s records, he came across information that horrified him. It appeared that the NSA – even before September 11 – had secretly revised its scope of operations to expand its powers.

Since its inception, the NSA had been strictly forbidden from eavesdropping on domestic communications. Drake’s investigation persuaded him that the NSA was now violating this restriction by collecting information on communications within as well as outside of the United States. And it was doing so without obtaining legally required court orders.

Drake’s descent into a nightmare of persecution at the hands of his own government began innocently. Having uncovered evidence of apparently illegal behaviour, he did what his military training and US whistleblower law instructed: he reported the information up the chain of command. Beginning in early 2002, he shared his concerns first with a small number of high-ranking NSA officials, then with the appropriate members of Congress and staff at the oversight committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Drake spent countless hours in these sessions but eventually came to the conclusion that no one in a position of authority wanted to hear what he was saying. When he told his boss, Baginski, that the NSA’s expanded surveillance following 9/11 seemed legally dubious, she reportedly told him to drop the issue: the White House had ruled otherwise.

John Crane first heard about Thomas Drake when Crane and his colleagues at the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General received a whistleblower complaint in September 2002. The complaint alleged that the NSA was backing an approach to electronic surveillance that was both financially and constitutionally irresponsible. The complaint was signed by three former NSA officials, William Binney, Kirk Wiebe and Edward Loomis, and a former senior Congressional staffer, Diane Roark. Drake also endorsed the complaint – but because he, unlike the other four, had not yet retired from government service, he asked that his name be kept anonymous, even in a document that was supposed to be treated confidentially within the government.

Binney, Wiebe, Loomis and Roark shared Drake’s concerns about the constitutional implications of warrantless mass surveillance, but their complaint focused on two other issues.

The first was financial. The whistleblowers contended that the NSA’s surveillance programme, codenamed Trailblazer, was a shameful waste of $3.8 billion – it had been more effective at channelling taxpayer dollars to corporate contractors than at protecting the homeland.

Of course it was.

Second, the whistleblowers warned that Trailblazer actually made the US less secure. They acknowledged that Trailblazer had vastly expanded the amount of electronic communications NSA collected. But this avalanche of raw data was too much – it left NSA’s analysts struggling to distinguish the vital from the trivial and thus liable to miss key clues.

Drake had discovered a shocking example while researching his postmortem report on the September 11 attacks. Months beforehand, the NSA had come into possession of a telephone number in San Diego that was used by two of the hijackers who later crashed planes into the World Trade Center. But the NSA did not act on this finding.

As Drake later told the NSA expert James Bamford, the NSA intercepted seven phone calls between this San Diego phone number and an al-Qaida “safe house” in Yemen. Drake found a record of the seven calls buried in an NSA database.

US officials had long known that the Yemen safe house was the operational hub through which Bin Laden, from a cave in Afghanistan, ordered attacks. Seven phone calls to such a hub from the same phone number was obviously suspicious. Yet the NSA took no action – the information had apparently been overlooked.


The Bush administration’s mass surveillance efforts were partly exposed in December 2005, when the New York Times published a front page article by reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, which revealed that the NSA was monitoring international phone calls and emails of some people in the US without obtaining warrants.

Eight years later, that story would be dwarfed by Snowden’s revelations. But at the time, the Bush White House was furious – and they were determined to find and punish whoever had leaked the details to the New York Times.

According to Crane, his superiors inside the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s office were eager to help. Henry Shelley, the general counsel – the office’s top lawyer – urged that the IG office should tell the FBI agents investigating the Times leak about Drake and the other NSA whistleblowers.

This Shelley character is a particularly heinous cretin in this entire saga.

After all, the NSA whistleblowers’ recent complaint had objected to the same surveillance practices described in the Times article – which made them logical suspects in the leak. Crane objected strenuously. Informing anyone – much less FBI investigators – of a whistleblower’s name was illegal.

After debating the matter at a formal meeting in the personal office of the inspector general, Shelley and Crane continued arguing in the hallway outside. “I reached into my breast pocket and pulled out my copy of the Whistleblower Protection Act,” Crane recalled. “I was concerned that Henry was violating the law. Our voices weren’t raised, but the conversation was, I would say, very intense and agitated. Henry [replied] that he was the general counsel, the general counsel was in charge of handling things with the Justice Department and he would do things his way.”

There the disagreement between Crane and Shelley stalled. Or so it seemed until 18 months later. On the morning of 26 July, 2007, FBI agents with guns drawn stormed the houses of Binney, Wiebe, Loomis and Roark. Binney was towelling off after a shower when agents accosted him; he and his wife suddenly found themselves with guns aimed directly between their eyes, the retired NSA man recalled.

Crane smelled a rat. The investigation that his staff had conducted into the whistleblowers’ complaint had been highly classified: very few people could have known their names, and they would have been inside the IG’s office. After the raids, Crane confronted Shelley and demanded to know whether the IG’s office had given the names to the FBI. Shelley refused to discuss the matter, Crane says.

The battle soon escalated. Four months later, FBI agents stormed Drake’s house in an early morning raid, as his family watched in shock.

After Drake was indicted in 2010, his lawyers filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents related to the investigation Crane’s office had conducted into the claims of the NSA whistleblowers. According to Crane, he was ordered by his superiors in the IG’s office to delay releasing any documents – which could have exonerated Drake – until after the trial, which was expected to take place later in 2010.

Crane alleges that he was ordered to do so by Shelley and Lynne Halbrooks – who had recently been named the principal deputy inspector general (in other words, the second-highest ranking official in the IG’s office). Crane protested but lost this skirmish as well. (Halbrooks did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.)

Crane was at once alarmed and revolted. The complaint from Drake’s lawyers seemed to confirm his suspicion that someone in the IG’s office had illegally fingered Drake to the FBI. Worse, the indictment filed against Drake had unmistakable similarities to the confidential testimony Drake had given to Crane’s staff – suggesting that someone in the IG’s office had not simply given Drake’s name to the FBI, but shared his entire testimony, an utter violation of law.

Drake’s complaint demanded investigation, Crane told Halbrooks. But Halbrooks, joined by Shelley, allegedly rejected Crane’s demand. She added that Crane wasn’t being a “good team player” and if he didn’t shape up, she would make life difficult for him.

But there was even worse to come. As Drake’s trial approached in the spring of 2011, Crane knew that the law required the IG’s office to answer the retaliation complaint filed by Drake’s lawyers. But, Crane says, Shelley now informed him it would be impossible to respond – because the relevant documents had been destroyedLower level staff “fucked up”, Crane said Shelley told him: they had shredded the documents in a supposedly routine purge of the IG’s vast stores of confidential material.

Crane could not believe his ears. “I told Henry that destruction of documents under such circumstances was, as he knew, a very serious matter and could lead to the inspector general being accused of obstructing a criminal investigation.” Shelley replied, according to Crane, that it didn’t have to be a problem if everyone was a good team player.

On 15 February, 2011, Shelley and Halbrooks sent the judge in the Drake case a letter that repeated the excuse given to Crane: the requested documents had been destroyed, by mistake, during a routine purge. This routine purge, the letter assured Judge Richard D Bennett, took place before Drake was indicted.

“Lynne and Henry had frozen me out by then, so I had no input into their letter to Judge Bennett,” Crane said. “So they ended up lying to a judge in a criminal case, which of course is a crime.”

With Drake adamantly resisting prosecutors’ pressure to make a plea deal – “I won’t bargain with the truth,” he declared – the government eventually withdrew most of its charges against him. Afterwards, the judge blasted the government’s conduct. It was “extraordinary”, he said, that the government barged into Drake’s home, indicted him, but then dropped the case on the eve of trial as if it wasn’t a big deal after all. “I find that unconscionable,” Bennett added. “Unconscionable. It is at the very root of what this country was founded on … It was one of the most fundamental things in the bill of rights, that this country was not to be exposed to people knocking on the door with government authority and coming into their homes.”

We are now becoming a police state,” Diane Roark said in a 2014 television interview. Referring to herself and the other NSA whistleblowers, she added, “We are the canaries in the coal mine. We never did anything wrong. All we did was oppose this programme. And for that, they just ran over us.”

“They’re saying, ‘We’re doing this to protect you,’” Roark’s fellow whistleblower William Binney told me. “I will tell you that that’s exactly what the Nazis said in Special Order 48 in 1933 – we’re doing this to protect you. And that’s how they got rid of all of their political opponents.”

These are strong statements – comparing the actions of the US government to Nazi Germany, warning of an emerging “police state” – so it’s worth remembering who made them. The NSA whistleblowers were not leftwing peace nuts. They had spent their professional lives inside the US intelligence apparatus – devoted, they thought, to the protection of the homeland and defence of the constitution.

They were political conservatives, highly educated, respectful of evidence, careful with words. And they were saying, on the basis of personal experience, that the US government was being run by people who were willing to break the law and bend the state’s awesome powers to their own ends. They were saying that laws and technologies had secretly been put in place that threatened to overturn the democratic governance Americans took for granted and shrink their liberties to a vanishing point. And they were saying that something needed to be done about all this before it was too late.

Let’s all make a resolution to do whatever we can to alter this situation and restore constitutional values to the land. Let’s also give thanks to all the incredibly courageous American patriots who have been relentlessly and despicably persecuted by their government.

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In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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15 thoughts on “This is How the U.S. Government Destroys the Lives of Patriotic Whistleblowers”

  1. Hi Michael,

    Great article, thank you–but it is even worse than you outline here. Please see for more on what Diane Roark says, what Karen Stewart says–both NSA whistleblowers–on what is going on in America.

    See this page for Dr. Eric Karlstrom’s analysis:

    Digital surveillance online is the least of our problems today. “Electronic” surveillance is a misnomer which masks bio and neuro surveillance.

    Please help America wake up. Not speaking about it openly discredits every single journalist who is afraid to touch this apparently explosive subject–but such crime cannot be concealed forever.

    This is Secrecy-Protected Crime, and we ALL Need to be talking and writing about it. Pretending it doesn’t exist is not going to make it go away.

    (Mainstream media and Psychiatry have been corralled into suppressing public awareness of the truth, see more here:

    • OMG I knew the gov was corrupt, but that first link can keep someone busy for a few months. Thanks for the link, very interesting and scary stuff. I want to tweet it but almost too afraid of becoming a target. LOL.

      I know, not a laughing matter, but what else can you do after reading that looong article?

      Makes one wonder why they don’t target people whom the gov feels is an enemy, such as Assange, Alex Jones, etc. I read somewhere that something like this may have happened to Breitbart. Why did they have to kill Antonin Scalia in such a sloppy way? That was a dumb question, as we all know that the gov never does anything the easy way.

  2. dear mr. krieger , good luck with changing anything that has to do with this government , it is so corrupt and sick that the only answer is implosion and start over . it is only a matter of when not if that this nation slides over the cliff and into the “cesspool” that has been created by the “scum ” running this criminal org . ( have a nice christmas and god bless )

    • I think the understanding that it CANNOT and WILL NOT be changed through anything short of a systemic collapse is a compelling one. If we are to be consistent logically, WHERE would the leverage come to make the change? Those who profit from the current system own industry, media and government. Take a look at those rare congressional reps who did try to sound the alarm. They are either in prison, disgraced by some manufactured story or they had poor private plane maintenance.

      The alt-media (NOT alt-right media, this is an alternative to a media beholden to something far more sinister than the left/right paradigm) is really beginning to rev up in moving millions of Americans into a deep understanding of how sickeningly corrupt the system is. But…where does that take us?

      My days of writing my congressional representatives are over. I don’t need one more “Thank you for your input on this important issue” letter for my collection. This is change that is going to have to happen extraneous to the system in place.

      Once that is understood, the logical conclusion is we are just now awakening to the fact our government has been at war with We The People for many years. The only credible response to this is a low level of civil disobedience and monkey wrenching the system, along with removing our support for the social institutions that support the current corruption.

      Remove support for the big banks, for the companies who benefit from it (hello Alphabet/Google?) and do what you can in your own unique place to sabotage the manufactured reality that is killing us. It WILL NOT happen unless we as individuals do it. No politician, populist or otherwise, can affect the sickness at the root of our accelerating decent.

      Michael has done a lot by providing this forum, which through its sharing gets a lot of minds thinking seriously about the issue. What am I doing in my life to hasten the destruction of the system. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

  3. Good stuff except the part about the 7 phone calls from San Diego were not overlooked. 9/11 was a sham. This proves it amongst many other elements and facts. When will Americans understand that the entire chain of events has been planned for years. It is why we now live in a police state. There is no war on terror. It is all a boogy man made up bull shit story that has gotten us exactly where we are. With cameras everywhere and calls listened to, emails read and it will get worse. Just connect the dots. Its all laid out plainly if you just open your eyes to see it. Not enough room here to hash it out…but I can and so should you and everyone that thinks responsibly. Just know this…there are reasons why America has miles of underground tunnels fully stocked and areas all over that prison camps are waiting fully functional and operational. Yet no media will show any of it. In’s illegal to. Illegal to even write about or talk about any of it. Think it through folks.

    • Like the righter here, Wayne, you improperly refer to US public at large as idjets with our eyes closed. “We live in a time and within a culture where the best amongst us are thrown in jail, demonized or destroyed, while the worst are celebrated, promoted and enriched.” GHEESH! This applies to I and many more abused by public serpents, Nationwide. Check my courts’ (CA.) websight(s). Of course, thanks for all u due and lighten UP on the rest of US worker Bs 🙁 “We need to admit to ourselves what we have become before we can make changes.” WHAT! due u allege? AND after all those many, many years slaving for peace and justice how due U want me to change?

  4. As an American living abroad, I have been thinking on and off about returning to the US after Trump’s inauguration. It’s stories like this one–which is excellent, thank you!–which will keep me on another continent indefinitely…

  5. it would be nice to have alex jones have drake crane William Binney, Kirk Wiebe and Edward Loomis, , Diane Roark.

    i think binney has been on before. he’s on youtube for years now with his now , many years old warnings and whistle blowings.

    it’s time for a pow wow where alex jones brings these guys on WITH NEWT GINGRICH and POINTS THE FINGER AT TRUMP.

    trump won’t do anything, but it’s important that those who voted against hillary clinton understand the game is now to shame trump for his audacity to use this apparatus against the public. which he most certainly WILL BE DOING.

    if trump wants change in the CIA, in the Pentagon, HE NEEDS TO PARDON SNOWDEN FIRST AND THEN BRING HIM HOME.

    IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN, but that doesn’t mean jones and the liberty movement shoudl give up on it. in fact, it should be their NUMBER ONE PRIORIRTY PERIOD END OF DEAL. THAT’S IT SNOWDEN OR TRUMP IS CLINTON IS EINHORN.

    it would be such a genius political move for trump , because it would make him dynamic and beloved by the liberals and the independents. it would get him so much street cred that he would win a 2nd term. but he will never do it. he is a scared liar at best. (thank god he is a liar as he would never have beaten clinton if he wasnt’ 🙂 )

    but it’s time to turn the screws on trump before he even gets to sit down.

    • Excellent analysis. My biggest concern with Trump was his cavalier attitude about the whole thing and I believe he made comments years ago that Snowden should be taken out. Hopefully President Trump is truly exceptional and make the changes the people are trusting him to make. His rise and election was mainly a repudiation of the establishment parties, if he truly drains the swamp he will give liberty new life.

  6. Regarding any information hidden from 911. The entire 911 event was planned to hide from the american public the billions that have been stolen, ever sense ww2. If you guys want to read a very well researched paper explaining the entire event, the real purpose behind 911. Google this
    Many Americans either have no understanding or no desire to know history.
    Regarding the airplanes many Americans have no concept of understanding regarding the flight envelop of those airplanes flight speed capability, the structural design of aluminum airplanes, and the maximum thrust of the designed engines at or near sea level. There many clues on the 911 video. the only way to find them? Frame by frame analysis of the video! I have not even spoken about the bomb detection methods used thru forensic science in learning about the red grey chips that even reveal UN-exploded nano thermite. Used for destroying the vertical load bearing steel columns. We are talking about controlled demolitions of those buildings Do your own research with an open mind to seek the truth, no matter where it leads you.
    Even in the bible it states, the truth will set you free indeed!

  7. As a 73 year old I’m afraid that this country makes the Nazi regime look like schoolchildren.
    I am a Vietnam veteran and in August 1967 I participated in a Vietnam veterans against the war protest in NYC’s Central Park. About 500,000 people protested the war. The police were set upon the protesters, The vets were beaten and the civilians were arrested. It would not have looked good on the front pages to see vets being arrested for a war we fought. I imagine I turned on my country then as my country turned on me.

  8. The NSA governors indeed may sacrifice whistle blowers and anyone that gets in the way of the agency prosecuting its agenda. However, these men were chosen by others in greater positions of authority and if Mr. Crane and fellow whistle blowers think the guilty are they that run the agency, then they know little more than the man on the street as to who really runs the agency.
    If these stooges, NSA stalwarts don’t do it, you can bet there are others on the wings that will. Besides the compensation for destroying the principles of liberty are very good. Lifetime pay at a rate above most companies.
    Nevertheless, those who truly govern governments across the land of Earth are much higher up then the United States Government.
    All the snooping, is that one day, one computer or perhaps several acting as one can know if you present a danger to these whose government will be the world.
    Lucifer has been short changed before and he’s not taking any chances. Its unfortunate, all the Libertarians aren’t aware of this essential truth all secret societies to the contrary.
    If one doesn’t know one’s enemy, he’s pretty hard to defeat and what’s worse, if that enemy has an alias that puts him beyond the pale of knowning, he’s discovered the best cover.
    The United States has very little time left for anyone who truly has researched the subject, can know, its waterloo no longer is on the horizon, its at the door.
    Time has run out folks. If its the truth, hiding it or disbelieving it doesn’t change it. On the other hand, proving otherwise with all the facts is next to impossible. Its like believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.
    But what comes next is likely of greater gain…..


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