Not only has Obama to contend with the current debt crisis plus issues such as Afghanistan and Iraq , etc. etc. but the conduct of his Administration in relation to whistleblowers was dealt harsh criticism - "unconscionable" was the word used - by a judge. So much for another of Obama's pledges pre his election of dealing fairly with whilstleblowers. And this from a lawyer and one-time law lecturer!
"The Obama administration's unprecedented war on whistleblowers suffered two serious and well-deserved defeats. The first occurred in the prosecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was accused of multiple acts of espionage, only for the DOJ to drop virtually all of the charges right before the trial was to begin and enter into a plea agreement for one minor misdemeanor. Today, The Washington Post -- under the headline "Judge blasts prosecution of alleged NSA leaker" -- reports that the federal judge presiding over the case "harshly criticized U.S. prosecutors’ treatment of a former spy agency official accused of leaking classified material."
As the transcript of Drake's sentencing hearing published by Secrecy News reflects, Judge Richard Bennett of the U.S. District Court for Maryland was infuriated by two aspects of the DOJ's conduct: (1) after the Bush DOJ executed a search warrant of Drake's home in 2007, the Obama DOJ -- 2 1/2 years later -- finally indicted him, meaning he had to live with that cloud of criminal uncertainty over his head for that outrageously lengthy period of time; and (2) despite dropping all of the serious charges right before the trial was about to begin, the DOJ demanded that Drake be forced to pay a $50,000 fine as "a deterrent" (on top of the tens of thousands of dollars he spent in legal fees until he had no money left and had to use public defenders, as well as the fact that he was five years away from earning a federal pension when he was fired and ended up working at an Apple Computer store to support his family); to justify the requested fine, the prosecutor cited a $10,000 whistleblowing prize Drake was awarded earlier this year.
As for the first issue, the court condemned what it called the "extraordinary position taken by the government, probably unprecedented in this courthouse" of dropping the whole case on the eve of trial after "an extraordinary period of delay." Judge Bennett added: "I find that unconscionable. Unconscionable. It is at the very root of what this country was founded on against general warrants of the British." As for the second issue, the court reviewed the difficult circumstances of Drake's childhood (he was raised in poverty and sent himself to school with risky military service), his complete lack of any prior criminal record, and -- most of all -- the multiple ways in which the failed prosecution destroyed his life ("the financial devastation wrought upon this defendant"), and flatly refused to impose any fine at all, explaining: "I'm not going to add to that in any way."
What is most notable about this hearing is that the prosecutor candidly described not only his reasons for wanting a substantial fine imposed on Drake, but (without his saying so) also the motive for the Obama DOJ's broader war on whistleblowers: namely, an attempt to send a "message" of intimidation to future would-be whistleblowers."