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Kiriakou writes: "The Washington DC bar announced recently that it would lodge ethics charges against Thomas Tamm, a Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle against the National Security Agency's illegal warrantless wiretapping program. This is despite the fact that the Justice Department ruled in 2010 that Tamm had not committed a crime."

Thomas Tamm. (photo: Nigel Parry/CPI/Newsweek)
Thomas Tamm. (photo: Nigel Parry/CPI/Newsweek)

The Case Against Whistleblower Thomas Tamm: Ethics or Retribution?

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

31 January 16


he Washington DC bar announced recently that it would lodge ethics charges against Thomas Tamm, a Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle against the National Security Agency's illegal warrantless wiretapping program. This is despite the fact that the Justice Department ruled in 2010 that Tamm had not committed a crime.

Tamm came to the Department's attention in 2008 when he revealed that he had been one of the sources for a 2004 New York Times article on the wiretapping program, which President George W. Bush had begun in 2001. Tamm had learned that information gathered from the warrantless wiretaps was making its way into applications that the Justice Department was filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court asking to conduct legal wiretaps. Fruit from the forbidden tree.

Tamm, believing correctly that his superiors were in on the program, elected to go to the press, rather than up the chain of command. This act was prescient. The Times later revealed that Attorney General John Ashcroft had approved of the program from the start.

Tamm has moved on with his life and is now a public defender in Maryland. He faces disbarment if found guilty.

But this whole situation isn't just about Thomas Tamm. It's about all national security whistleblowers. Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower, learned in 2006 that the NSA was conducting dragnet electronic surveillance on American citizens. He did go through the chain of command.

First, he reported the illegality to his superiors. He was told to mind his own business. Then he went to the NSA Inspector General. Again he was told to back off. He went to the NSA General Counsel and was told to drop it. He went to the Pentagon Inspector General, which then illegally destroyed evidence that Drake had presented. There is now a criminal case pending against employees there. Drake finally went to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, NSA's oversight committee, and reported the illegal surveillance.

His reward? Drake was charged with 10 felonies, including five counts of espionage. The case against him finally collapsed, but not after he lost his job, his pension, his friends, and even his family.

But that's the plan. Even if there's no real legal case against the whistleblower, the Justice Department and other bodies, like bar associations, just keep filing charges to make the whistleblower defend himself, knowing full well that at the same time, the whistleblower is going broke and is being abandoned by his friends and colleagues.

Jesselyn Radack went through the same thing. Radack, a former ethics attorney at the Justice Department, complained up her chain of command that John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban," had been interrogated without having been read his rights and without having had access to an attorney. The information gathered in the interrogation was later used to prosecute him.

After Radack complained up her chain of command, the Lindh file was mysteriously purged. One of Radack's supervisors told her to walk away. Instead, she went to the media. Within months, she was fired from her job at Justice, and then fired from her next job with a private law firm after Justice officials told her new employers that she was likely to be indicted. (She wasn't.) She was placed on the "no-fly list," presumably as a terrorist sympathizer, and ethics charges were filed against her with the DC bar association. That was 14 years ago. Those charges are still pending. And she's still detained and harassed every time she goes through an airport.

Again, the Justice Department never seriously considered charging Radack with a crime. The goal was to ruin her. But they failed. She is now a celebrated whistleblower defense attorney.

NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney, Kirk Weibe, and Ed Loomis; State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren; NSA and CIA contractor Ed Snowden; and I all have similar stories.

The DC bar should be demanding that the Justice Department protect national security whistleblowers, not harass, indict, and prosecute them. It should then work to protect those whistleblowers. If the Justice Department took whistleblower disclosures seriously and investigated accusations of official waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality, there wouldn't need to be leaks to the press.

A good start would be for the DC bar to stop being the Justice Department's lap dog.

John Kiriakou is an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. He is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+27 # tedrey 2016-01-31 10:25
"Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne . . ."
+4 # RobertMStahl 2016-01-31 17:02
And, don't forget the missing-since-2 008 superstar whistle blower, Indira Singh!

Stanley Kubrick's last performance:
+22 # danireland46 2016-01-31 10:36
D.C. is a festering snake pit, full of political prostitutes selling their souls for campaign money and lobbying pimps eager to buy those souls. When a conservative judicial appointee is called upon to perform the duties they were paid to perform, we end up with the kind of situation facing Tamm.
Exonerated from blame in 2010, for his brave exposure of the corruption of Attorney General Ashcroft during the disastrous G.W. tenure, he now faces the D.C. bar. Let's face it, SCOTUS is the dream job for these political 'jurists'. If they continue to dance on their puppet-master's strings, they could end up partners with the corrupt five in SCOTUS some day.
+12 # Femihumanist 2016-01-31 17:14
[quote name="danirelan d46"]D.C. is a festering snake pit, full of political prostitutes selling their souls for campaign money and lobbying pimps eager to buy those souls.

When you talk about "DC" (or as I call it, "CC" for "Colony of Colombia"), please differentiate between the residents who have no vote and little say in their own governance and the Feds who actually run the City and the Country. Residents of CC are NOT RESPONSIBLE for all the BULLSHIT that comes out of the scum in control but I've met too many Americans who confuse the two.
+18 # reiverpacific 2016-01-31 11:21
That's a bloody good, ironic and hypocritical joke if ever there was one; -the Washington DC bar even talking about ethics (unless, like T.T., you are the accused)!
It's like a vegan trying to write and "Lodge" (publish) a recipe for Steak and Kidney pudding.
These people have the kind of nerve you're glad NOT to have in yer teeth and the living evidence that "Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely" and "The Arrogance of Office"!
They play with loaded dice at all times.
I hope he doesn't end up in the same boat as Leonard Peltier.
+12 # Jim Young 2016-01-31 11:52
Seems we should have as little trust in the Washington D.C. Bar association as this Forbes article feels is warranted for Psychologists and Psychiatrists that secretly supported torture. See
+12 # ktony 2016-01-31 12:53
Gee! It was just announced that David Petraeus will not face similar charges for sharing top secret documents with his mistress/biogra pher. I guess self-aggrandize ment is an excuse, where concern that the laws be faithfully executed is not.
+7 # elkingo 2016-01-31 13:05
Fuckin' assholes. They connive and destroy like the Borgia clan or some other Italian renaissance city-state degenerates.
+14 # Archie1954 2016-01-31 13:27
I wonder if the DC Bar even knows what ethics are. How many times have justice lawyers and prosecutors obstructed justice with hidden evidence or mislead the court inother ways so that justice is thwarted and a fair trial denied, all to chalk up another "win" for the department? None of these individuals are brought up on obstruction, perjury or other ethics charges. Why not? I think it's because the Bar Association doesn't have a clue as to what constitutes "ethics"!
# Guest 2016-01-31 14:28
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+2 # Archie1954 2016-02-02 14:02
Lawyer with a well understood idea of ethics you dipstick!
+9 # ProfT 2016-01-31 14:08
90% of lawyers give the rest a bad name....
# Guest 2016-01-31 14:25
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+9 # BobboMax 2016-01-31 23:16

Duty to bureaucrats you know are corrupt...?
Duty to the American people...?
Duty to corrupt bureaucrats...?
Duty to America...?

Must be nice to be so sure of yourself, nresq.

And regarding Archie's qualifications, you don't have to be a lawyer to recognize dishonesty and criminality. In fact, there's some evidence that makes it more difficult.
+6 # Jim Young 2016-02-01 00:17
Where were the Washington D.C. Bar members when the supposed internal channels utterly failed to act ethically? Snowden went outside the corrupt internal channels that he saw reject Thomas Drakes attempts to keep everything with in channels, then tried to frame him (and others). I believe Snowden particularly based his decision on what happened to Drake, though I'd guess he also knew about others similarly threatened.

I hope they do restore justice, protect whistle blowers to sort out (in secret) what is valid information of wrong doing, suspicion of wrong doing that can be investigated and kept secret if found to be wrong (like seeing something of intelligence efforts to give enemies wrong information), and do so with enough authorized witnesses we can trust to verify that the internal channels are not covering up criminal activities.

I hope they get a thousand more whistle blowers the caliber of Snowden, Drake, Tam, Weibe, Ellsberg, etc, until they restore trustworthy internal channels that the American people can trust.
+10 # jayjay 2016-01-31 17:04
And what about Hillary's contention, on national TV, that Edward Snowden should have gone up the ladder of command to lodge his complaints against the illegal spying system of the USG? Of course since he was just a contractor there was no chain of command at all. Oh well, nice try, Shillary
+10 # 2016-01-31 18:40
We need transparency and whistle blowers provide it when there is secrecy in the government.
+2 # Khidr 2016-02-02 13:24
There should be a National Defense Fund to protect the whistle blowers in the national budget to defend whistle blowers.
My suggestion would be each *Burearat's* should have a liability insurance much like the rest of the professionals have(Architects , Lawyers, Engineers, Doctor) to be paid by *Burearats*. Instead using taxpayers to finance these illegitimate lawsuits to bring havoc on well meaning Patriots. We will see how many of them get re insured........ ........
+2 # Margolicious 2016-02-04 15:01
We have the most corrupt government of the entire so-called democracies and have lost all our freedoms. Wall Street and corporate CEOs steal billions and never go to jail. Tamm, Kiriakou, Snowden, and others that expose corruption and wrong doing go to jail and end up broke. Whistle blowers should be given millions in rewards and honored instead of disgraced and jailed. Obama has been demonic in his persecution of honest people.
We have a Supreme Court predominantly Catholic that legalized bribery with their Citizens United decision. Justices Kennedy, Alito, stupid racist Scalia, and Roberts,& Thomas who sexually harassed Anita Hill are a national disgrace.
We have corrupt politicians and officials that get us into immoral and illegal wars with their lies. We did not have Isis until Bush invaded Iraq. Also Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and all the liars have never been prosecuted.
General Petraeus who betrayed his country as noted by ktony goes free and keeps his pension.

I read somewhere that the government is building concentration camps and digging graves for dissenters. I do not trust any government official. We will all be buried for telling the truth.

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