Donald Trump said on Saturday that he would consider issuing a presidential pardon to whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has remained in exile in Russia since disclosing highly classified information from the National Security Agency.
After leaking the info to the Guardian in 2013, Snowden left the U.S. traveling to Hong Kong and then to Moscow in order to avoid being arrested.
To some, Snowden is seen as a civil liberties hero, but to others, he is seen as a traitor for revealing secret intelligence documents.
Back in 2014, Trump called Snowden a ‘spy’ tweeting, “A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed.”
Q: "Do you want to give Edward Snowden a pardon and bring him back?"
A second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistle-blower complaint and testify to Congress, according to two people briefed on the matter.
The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower, whose complaint that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people said.
A new complaint, particularly from someone closer to the events, would potentially add further credibility to the account of the first whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to the National Security Council at one point. He said that he relied on information from more than half a dozen American officials to compile his allegations about Mr. Trump’s campaign to solicit foreign election interference that could benefit him politically.
After the New York Timesreported that the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, had been contacted regarding the outlines of the whistleblower’s concerns that Donald Trump had abused his power before it became public knowledge, Trump and his cohorts tried to spin this into a new conspiracy theory against him.
Team Trump even tried to assert that Schiff helped write the whistleblower’s complaint.
The thing is – this is the process when someone in government believes they’ve witnessed something gone awry.
The whistleblower who raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine spoke to staffers on the House Intelligence Committee before filing a formal complaint, giving Democrats advance warning of the accusations of wrongdoing that triggered their impeachment inquiry.
The whistleblower, a member of the intelligence community, contacted the committee for guidance on how to report “possible wrongdoing,” according to Patrick Boland, a spokesman for the Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Boland said that “at no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance” and that it is a regular occurrence for whistleblowers to seek guidance from the committee.
“Consistent with the committee’s longstanding procedures, committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an inspector general and to seek legal counsel,” Boland said. Other congressional committees follow a similar process.
In a news conference in the East Room of the White House after the article was published, Trump ranted, “He knew long before and helped write it, too. It’s a scam.”
The NY Timesstates plainly: There is no evidence that Mr. Schiff did, and his spokesman said he saw no part of the complaint before it was filed.
The latest news regarding the newly-announced official impeachment inquiry investigating allegations that Donald Trump used the presidency to encourage Ukraine to help dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden:
The whistle-blower states that he had “received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
The complaint also asserts that several in the White House were “deeply disturbed by what happened on that phone call” and there was an attempt to cover it up.
• The New York Times also reports the whistle-blower who filed the initial complaint is a C.I.A. agent who was detailed to work at the White House for a period of time.
According to the Times, the complaint seems to suggest “he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.”
• Law & Crime shares that Trump spoke about the unnamed whistle-blower today to a group of staffers from the United States Mission to the United Nations. A recording of Trump’s remarks show he wanted to know who the Ukraine whistleblower’s source or sources were “because that’s close to a spy.”
The Donald also said in the “old days when we were smart” spies and traitors were treated “a little differently.”
Many interpreted those words as a threat which could be seen as witness tampering and/or obstruction of justice.
Here’s the audio of Trump effectively threatening the life of the whistleblower.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”pic.twitter.com/Bez4xhFWSl
• A new Morning Consult poll conducted over the last two days shows Americans split over whether they want to see Congress begin impeachment proceedings to remove Donald Trump from office.
According to the survey of over 1,600 registered voters, 43 percent support impeachment, and 43 percent oppose it.
What’s noteworthy here is that constitutes a 13 point net swing in favor of impeachment from another poll conducted over the weekend. The figure for support rose 7 points, while opposition dropped 6 points.
The whistleblower complaint at the heart of the burgeoning controversy over President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president claims not only that Trump misused his office for personal gain and endangered national security but that unidentified White House officials tried to hide that conduct.
“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistleblower wrote in the complaint dated Aug. 12.
The House Intelligence Committee released the seven-page document, which was directed to the heads of the House and Senate intelligence committees, Thursday morning. It also released a two-page appendix that was once classified and portions of which remain redacted.
“This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph W. Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General [William P.] Barr appears to be involved as well,” the whistleblower wrote.
Part of what concerned the whistleblower was that the record of the Ukraine phone call was removed from the computer system where such records are normally stored.
The whistleblower says White House officials told them the conversation on July 25 between Trump and Zelenskiy was removed from the computer system that is typically used for such records of calls with foreign leaders.
Instead, the whistleblower writes, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is used only for information that is of an “especially sensitive nature.” One White House official described that as an abuse of the secure system because there was nothing “remotely sensitive” on the phone call from a national security perspective, the whistleblower said.
In his testimony today, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee the whistleblower alleging President Trump abused the power of the presidency has “acted in good faith throughout” and that “I have every reason to believe” both the whistleblower and the inspector general “have done everything by the book and followed the law.”
In her first interview since being released from prison, Chelsea Manning explains to Juju Chang of ABC News why she risked her career to disclose the information and her fight for transgender rights while in military prison.
Saying she has “accepted responsibility” for her actions, Chelsea shares that she felt it was her duty to give the 700,000 military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks due to the “death, destruction and mayhem” she saw as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Even though President Obama commuted her 35 year sentence, Chelsea’s 7 years in prison is still the longest ever served by a leaker.
Sentenced to an unprecedented 35-year prison term for disclosing archives of secret files to WikiLeaks, Ms. Manning spent about seven years in prison — already double the second-longest sentence in any leak case. She was freed 28 years early because President Barack Obama, in one of his final acts, commuted the bulk of her remaining sentence.
Ms. Manning was known as Pvt. Bradley Manning in 2010 when she was arrested on suspicion of having copied hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic files from a classified computer network, to which she had access as a low-level intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq. After her conviction, she announced that she was a transgender woman and changed her name to Chelsea.
Hoping to inspire “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms,” as she wrote at the time, Ms. Manning had uploaded the files to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks. It published them in batches, working with traditional news organizations, including The New York Times.
Her leaks brought to light numerous hidden facts, including previously unknown civilian bystander killings in the Iraq war, back-room diplomatic dealings and discussion of local corruption around the world, and intelligence assessments about Guantánamo Bay detainees.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in a statement last week ahead of her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”
Manning attempted suicide twice during her 7 years at Fort Leavenworth.
She will remain on unpaid active duty while her military court conviction is under appeal. During that time she will continue to receive health benefits from the Army.
• unauthorized communication of national defense information
• willful communication of classified communications intelligence information
• theft of government property. All three crimes carry a maximum 10-year prison penalty
Each crime could result in a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
After providing the news media with information regarding two highly classified NSA surveillance programs, Snowden is believed to be hiding in China.
Right Wing Watch tips us to this very CRYPTIC “whistleblower” warning Glenn Beck made today on his radio show:
So we are a little skeptical of the promise that he made at the top of his radio broadcast today that within the next twenty four hours, his The Blaze network will break a story that is going to rock the nation and take down the entire power structure.
All Beck would say is that there is a whistleblower who has handed over just one document to The Blaze, but “this one document would take down pretty much the whole power structure, pretty much everything.” But this whistleblower is refusing to come forward until he can appear on television in front of Congress out of fear that he will otherwise be killed.
“We are going to be greatly divided as a nation,” Beck warned, “in the next ten days and you are going to witness things in American history that have never been witnessed before.”
Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA who currently works for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, revealed his identity and spoke out about why he leaked information about the NSA surveillance state in the U.S. in an interview and video released yesterday.
“My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with … I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night.”
Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”