by George Beres
(Swans - October 10, 2005) Nothing affected uninhibited behavior of those directing policy for the Bush administration until public release of the startling Downing Street Report by an insider in England. It ought to terrify Bush and his staffers because it could spur "whistleblowing" here, if only someone with courage is ready to step forward.
The two leading candidates were former Secretary of State Colin Powell and departed head of the CIA, George Tenet. Neither had the gumption nor commitment to democracy to take a step that would have earned him space in the pantheon of genuine American heroes.
Still, release of the British Intelligence memo gave a new sense of urgency to attempts to encourage whistleblowers at the highest levels of US government. I learned about it from the most famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers.
After his 2004 speech in Eugene, Oregon, Ellsberg told me: "We now need a whistleblower with official documents to reveal lies of the incumbent president. These must be documents, nothing of distant history. To do this, one must be ready to risk career and income and face imprisonment. Had there been one with the courage to take the risk at the outset, this unnecessary war and its terrible costs could have been prevented."
Recalling how he got on the "hit list" of President Richard Nixon after release of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg said: "I think Nixon was as capable of fascism as Bush. The difference is he had to deal with a Democratic House and Senate, unlike Bush, and a news media that was more liberal, not compliant like the media of today."
After Mark Felts acknowledged he was the Deep Throat informant of Watergate, I asked Ellsberg the effect this revelation could have on encouraging whistleblowers today. He said:
I always hoped Deep Throat would reveal himself while still alive, not posthumously. Then potential whistleblowers might be encouraged to do the same -- letting people see them and understand they did it for honorable, courageous reasons.
Felts was one of a dozen people with access to information the White House was lying. I think those other people need to ask themselves why they weren't Deep Throat, and how they justified not sharing that information with the world. We desperately need more like Felts right now. When a president embarrasses the country by getting us into a wrongful war -- and that obviously applies to the current president -- insiders who know should realize their highest loyalty is not to him. It is to the country, and especially to our troops in the field who wrongfully have been sent to war.
Ellsberg admires efforts of two US representatives, John Conyers, Mich., and Barbara Lee, Calif., to work through the legislative process to reach the impeachment stage. But he sees them frustrated by stonewalling Republicans, as when the International Relations Committee voted not to allow out of committee the Lee Resolution seeking Downing Street information from US government records.
He reminds potential whistleblowers it is not possible for them to work within existing government channels.
"The whistles," he said, "must be blown outside those channels. It's our one way of getting rid of those in government who, despite being wrong, can be shrewd enough to cling to power."
Having a contemporary Deep Throat step forward into the spotlight has to be ominous for members of the Bush administration implicated by the British Intelligence revelation. It could lead to sleepless nights for those in the Bush administration as they grow paranoid about staffers -- or former staffers -- who may be ready to purse their lips.