Imagine for a moment that you are a career employee of the federal government in a law enforcement or intelligence gathering agency. You embarked upon this career because you wanted to do something for your country, your fellow Americans. You and your family have gone through intrusive background checks, your friends and neighbors and past employers and teachers all got interviewed, there are limits on the kinds of activities, including business activities your spouse and children can engage in. Every year you must do a time consuming accounting exercise to do your financial disclosure forms.
You, and those who love you enough to support your decision to do this work — and you cannot do it if your spouse and grown children refuse to cooperate in the background checks and financial disclosures — have sacrificed a great deal of privacy and autonomy all so you can serve your country on a civil service salary. In short, you are a patriot.
Imagine now, that after decades of serving the country you believed to be basically decent and honorable, you have spent the last 7+ years watching the administration violate the Constitution in many ways. You may not know all the details of every violation, but you have some concrete knowledge of bits and pieces — maybe big chunks — of what is bound to be a bigger picture.
You know that colleagues like Sibel Edmonds have been subject to all manner of gag orders to stop her from revealing what she knows. You know that if you just got on a soapbox and shouted the truth in the street, you would be discredited and then prosecuted and the story would die. You have seen the object lesson of what happened to Joe Wilson’s wife when Wilson tried to call bulls**t on a White House lie.
[O]ne Justice Department attorney had his house raided and his children’s computers seized as part of the FBI’s probe into who leaked the warrantless spying to the New York Times. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales even suggested the reporters could be prosecuted under antiquated treason statutes.
You are living that sort of "invasion of the body snatchers" nightmare. You know an awful truth, but without a sample "pod" you can’t prove it and no one has been inclined to believe you.
And now, it’s almost over.
Wired is reporting that a potential army of whistleblowers-in-waiting have been talking to reporters and media outlets saying "call me on January 20th", the day the White House changes hands.
"I’d bet there are a lot of career employees in the intelligence agencies who’ll be glad to see Obama take the oath so they can finally speak out against all this illegal spying and get back to their real mission," says Caroline Fredrickson, the ACLU’s Washington D.C. legislative director.
New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh already has a slew of sources waiting to spill the Bush administration’s darkest secrets, he said in an interview last month. "You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on January 20. [They say,] ‘You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then.’"
Is there an army of people chomping at the bit to spill the beans? I sure hope so. But it is up to both the new administration AND Congress to create a hospitable environment for that. I know Obama said no witch hunts, I’m not suggesting that, but we cannot sweep the depredations of the last two terms under the rug in that name of "moving on."
If new whistle-blowers do emerge, Fredrickson hopes the additional information will spur Congress to form a new Church Committee — the 1970s bipartisan committee that investigated and condemned the government’s secret spying on peace activists, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other political figures.
A latter day Church Commission sounds just about right to me.