Experts Critique Privacy-Security Balance, Foreign Policy

Thomas A. Drake is a courageous, expert watchdog over rapidly eroding privacy rights for the public, and vast waste of money by federal authorities who have ramped up surveillance of the public. On Aug. 2, he shared his insights on my weekly radio show, MTL Washington Update.

Thomas DrakeCo-host Scott Draughon, founder and producer of the network, and I questioned the former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), at left, who has advised for years against  threats to taxpayers, privacy and the democratic process raised by wasteful national security spending.

For that, authorities sought to imprison him on a espionage charges until a federal judge last year forced federal prosecutors to back down. Drake remains vigilant in calling attention to these issues, most recently at forum on privacy issues organized last week by the free-market Cato Institute in Washington, DC.

Wayne Allyn Root

Our other guest on this week's edition show at noon (EDT) was Wayne Allyn Root, a conservative activist who discussed Mitt Romney's just-completed foreign trip. Root also analyzed the Tea Party's Texas primary victory this week in the U.S. Senate race and its implications for November.

Click here to listen to the live interviews on the My Technology Lawyer (MTL) network, now on archive after the one-hour show. Mac users need “Parallels.”

Root, at right, is a former Presidential candidate, the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, and a Tea Party favorite. He is proud to describe himself as "The ultimate Capitalist Evangelist, and "a blue-collar S.O.B. (son of a butcher)" turned small businessman, entrepreneur, CEO, home-school dad, and citizen politician.

Drake is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award. As further indicated by his Wikipedia profile: In 2010 the government alleged that he 'mishandled' documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project.

On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against Drake were dropped. He rejected several deals because he refused to "plea bargain with the truth." He eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer. Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of "Civil Disobedience." Prosecutors wanted Drake to plead guilty, but he refused. He believed that he was innocent of the charges against him. The government wanted him to help prosecute the other whistleblowers. He refused this as well.

He later explained his motivations to the Ridenhour Prizes organization: “I did what I did because I am rooted in the faith that my duty was to the American people" . . . "I knew that you did not spy on Americans and that we were accountable for spending American taxpayer monies wisely."

Drake has briefed lawmakers on Capital Hill recently accompanied by Radack, and is non-partisan in outlook.

In contrast, Root is a political crusader against Democrats and the Obama administration. Also, he is a talk show host, best-selling author, business speaker, and TV/radio commentator on the topics of business, economics, entrepreneurship, and politics. He is a regular guest on Fox News Channel, as well as hundreds of national and local radio shows across the USA, with over 1,000 media appearances annually.

He boasts that his opinions reach tens of millions of Americans as a regular columnist and commentator for many of the most popular political and business web sites- including FoxNews.com, Newsmax.com, TownHall.com, TheBlaze.com, DailyCaller.com, Breitbart.com, PersonalLiberty.com, and many more. He also writes regularly for The Washington Times. He is the best-selling author of seven books.

But he regards himself as a businessman foremost. He runs multiple businesses, and serves as spokesman for numerous national and international companies, including a global precious metals company and law firm. Also, he is a producer of the highest-rated television show on Travel Channel, "Ghost Adventures." A native New Yorker and graduate of Columbia University, this capitalist evangelist proudly resides in Nevada, a state with zero personal & business income tax. He is proud to be the only Nevadan to ever run on a major U.S. Presidential ticket. He was appointed by the governor of Nevada to the Judicial Selection Commission in 2010.  His web site is ROOTforAmerica.com.


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Related News Coverage

Truthout, Defense Companies Use Congress to Save Their Profits, No Matter What (Part One), Dina Rasor, August 2, 2012. In this column two weeks ago, I discussed how the Pentagon and its contractors used several ruses over the years to thwart any discussion about cutting their budget. These ploys are especially frustrating now because the generals and bureaucracy in the Pentagon act like any cuts, especially the cuts planned in the budget sequestration that may or may not take place by the end of the year, are the end of the world as we know it. All this frenzy over any Pentagon budget cuts needs to be tempered by the facts -- the Pentagon budget is higher than during the height of the cold war and even the sequestration cuts would take us back to 2006 levels when George Bush was president.

FireDogLake, Senate Proposals Are Less About ‘Leaks,’ More About Shutting Down Whistleblowers, Kevin Gosztola, July 31, 2012. Anti-leaks proposals approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of an intelligence authorization bill on July 24 became public yesterday. Politicians claim the proposals are a response to “leaks” on cyber warfare against Iran, Obama’s “kill list” and a CIA underwear bomb plot sting operation in Yemen. They supposedly would prevent “unauthorized disclosures” of “classified information” from people who are not authorized to “leak.” But, the truth is this obscures the reality, which is that hysteria over leaks has created a politically manufactured crisis of which politicians like Sen. Dianne Feinstein are taking advantage to enact measures that in their totality would function like an Official Secrets Act.  The proposals show the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to not only criminalize those who disclose information in order to cause harm to the national security of the United States but also seeks to criminalize those who do so with the sole intent to make the information public. The measures go beyond the Espionage Act. In pieces, a kind of state secrets statute would be in force if they were signed into law.
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Justice Integrity Project, Judges Hit DOJ in NSA, CIA Leak Cases, Andrew Kreig, July 31, 2011. A Maryland federal judge denounced Justice Department prosecutors for delays and "tyranny" in their prosecution of former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who was being sentenced on a reduced charge of unauthorized use of a computer after years of being investigated on felony charges as a suspected leaker. Meanwhile, a federal judge in a separate leak/whistleblower case provided extensive protections to New York Times reporter James Risen, whom authorities are trying to pressure for assistance in their leak prosecution against former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling.


WBUR, Data Mining: What Does The NSA Collect About Americans?
July 31, 2012. This past weekend at Defcon, the nation’s largest convention of computer hackers, National Security Agency Chief Gen. Keith Alexander insisted that his agency doesn’t keep files on ordinary Americans. In response, former NSA official William Binney responded that in fact the agency does collect data, and it’s even indexed, and that’s why he left the agency. So what’s true, and what’s most beneficial? After the Colorado shooting people asked why law enforcement wasn’t mining data on shooter James Holmes, who bought huge amounts of ammunition online and tried to join a gun club. And last week on Here & Now, we heard national security expert James Bamford say if Holmes had a Muslim name, he would have been data mined. So, where are we on data mining, nearly ten years after the Pentagon’s controversial Total Information Awareness data mining program was killed by Congress out of concern it violated civil liberties? James Bamford says that in the past decade the National Security Agency has transformed itself into the “largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created,” and it has “turned its surveillance apparatus on the U.S. and its citizens” for the first time since Watergate.

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June NSA Trial Looms As Obama DOJ Crusades Against Critics, Andrew Kreig, May 20, 2011. The Obama administration’s shocking crackdown on government whistleblowers became more prominent this week with the New Yorker Magazine’s publication of a hard-hitting article about the plight and June trial of former National Security Agency officer Thomas Drake.