Since the Espionage Act was kept in place by the Courts, it got the chance to grow up! Along the way, 52 Americans were convicted under the Espionage Act. It was no longer just targeting peaceniks, Socialists and anyone fighting for equality, but it was pushing the Red Scare and helping pave the way for McCarthyism 2.0.
McCarthyism Prime was happening all through the late 1800s and early 1900s with the smearing of the Labor Movement driven by Eugene Debs, Mother Jones and the International Workers Of The World being dubbed as anti-Freedom Commie Bastards. Anyone who was motivated by greed looked at them as a threat to their bottom line. So the Espionage Act aided in this Red Scare.
McCarthyism 2.0, reinforced by the Espionage Act, was going after anyone they believed was treasonous, like average citizens Ethel & Julius Rosenberg, who were given the death penalty for suspected ties to Communist Russia. Boy it’s nice to see a piece of authoritarianism graduate from a fine and jail time to straight up murder. They grow up so fast! One day they’re jailing Socialists and then the next they’re murdering regular citizens without concrete evidence! Sorry guys, fascism just makes me emotional!
But over the course of the last 40-50 years the Espionage Act has been a key factor in discriminating against Whistleblowers who reveal America’s corporate war crimes. The Espionage Act at this point should just be called the “Kill The Messenger” initiative, or “Operation Fuck Your Mailman”. That second one is some of our fantasies and the name of a really fun porno.
In 1971 a former Military Analyst working for the RAND corporation, Daniel Ellsberg, revealed the Pentagon Papers. He didn’t sell the Pentagon Papers to Chinese, Vietnamese or Russian intelligence, he freely gave them over the New York Times, who then published pieces of the 7000 page document. And yes, the Pentagon Papers did also reveal that Lydon B. Johnson was the only President that didn’t wear pants during the meetings about Vietnam!
Now despite NOT being mentioned in the Pentagon Papers, Richard Milhouse Nixon, America’s Premiere Paranoid President, decided that he had to take Ellsberg down! Ellsberg was already facing 115 years in prison under the Espionage Act. Boy do you think authoritarians realize most humans don’t live that long. And even if they did, to have a centennial human in a prison is the abject definition of Elder Abuse!
Nixon made a critical error when hired goons, the same one that would be later involved in the Watergate scandal, to break into Ellsberg’s doctor’s office to find dirt on him. When they were caught, it led to a mistrial and Ellsberg’s eventual freedom. Say what you will about Nixon, the man is consistent at being a crook!
The thing is Nixon had a way to make himself look good at the end of this. War Criminal Henry Kissenger pointed out how this could be spun as the Democrat’s war and gave them an opportunity to pull out of Nam. Instead of that, Nixon decided to decrease ground troops after 100k American soldiers died and increase bombings! This is similar to how Obama handled the Middle East by decreasing ground troops but increasing Drone Warfare and wedding explosions.
Ellsberg was just the first of a long list of Whistleblowers that the United States government has persecuted under the Espionage Act. The most famous of these victims is a former NSA analyst, Edward Snowden or as some folks might know as a woke Joseph Gordon Levitt look alike.
Edward Snowden revealed that the United States government was collecting mass amounts of data and using our cellphones to spy on the American people as if we were all spies. The United States government is basically that one friend thinks everyone is talking about them all the times and freaks out on strangers at bars. Making wing night really awkward all the time!
Once he found this information, Snowden freely gave the information journalist Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept. Again, he didn’t sell it to China or Russia or a balding super-villain living in a volcano!
This an argument used against Whistleblowers daily on corporate media! “Well he could have sold it foreign intelligence!” Yeah but he didn’t. “But he COULD HAVE though!” Yeah but fuckin’ didn’t! “But what if…” How are you a news network!?
Because the United States hates getting caught with it’s pants down – which some believe is because the US has a complex about it’s dick size not measuring up to the rest of the world; which is why the US should use the metric system, but that’s a different subject for a different a time – they tried to get Snowden’s asylum requests denied by virtually every European country.
Snowden eventually was granted asylum in Ecuador but had to get there from Hong Kong, which meant he’d have to fly through Russia. The US intelligence service & the Obama Administration knew his flight landed in Moscow when they revoked his passport, stranding him in exile in Russia. This gave them the opportunity to claim that he was a Russian spy and the NSA can finally live out their James Bond fetish. They can finally become a Bond girl as an entire agency! The NSA can be transformed from the National Security Agency to the National Pussygalore Agency! It’s fun when dreams come true at the expense of innocent people right?
Now, there are those that think Snowden can just come home and face the music, but the music would be listening to Nickelback in a jail cell for life without a fair trial. And the denial of a fair trial was under the Obama Administration, who invoked the Espionage Act more than any other President!
The Obama Administration had every opportunity to undo the legacy of Democratic Authoritarianism that was left behind by their predecessors but they didn’t. Obama exiled Snowden and he only commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Manning was the US Army Solider that revealed documents proving the American Military was killing Afghani civilians and international journalists to Wikileaks. If Obama truly believed these war crimes are something the country should atone for, he would started by completely pardoning Chelsea Manning.
Thanks to Obama handing the keys to a Dictator’s playbook, the current President, and best CIA asset, Donald Trump is now prosecuting even more Whistleblowers under his regime. Daniel Everett Hale is one of these Whistleblowers.
In 2015 the Intercept put a series of stories called the Drone Papers, which outlined how the Obama Administration was using inaccurate technology and Kill Lists to take out people they considered “dangerous”. [ESA 10]
When I was High School, a girl that had a crush on me put me on a kill list when I didn’t reciprocate her feelings. I was number 4, which honestly hurt a little. I wasn’t even in the top 3, come on! It must have not been that much of a crush! The school administrators found out and suspended her from school and ensured she got psychiatric care. When a 15 year old has a kill list she’s removed from society, when a President has one, he gets the Nobel Peace Prize. I think that’s not just an insult to what the prize represents, but all the words in “Nobel Peace Prize”.
Hale was arrested and indicted for revealing information to a journalist and currently faces 50 years in prison. You know who is facing 0 years in Prison, the people that had a kill list and used million dollar drones to reign death from the skies! Which is also the title of the newest Stephen Segal film going right to VHS. The Espionage Act protects real sociopaths and murderers but ensures the people who had a conscience about their misdeeds face a lifetime in prison.
The primary reason these Whistleblowers are villainized is because calling out American War Crimes is deemed treasonous. So what is treason? The entire Confederacy should be considered treasonous but instead of calling them that, we put up statues of them and name streets after them. There were US bankers helping the Nazis funnel money, like Prescott Bush and we let his kids & grandkids become Presidents and lead into more wars!
Major US corporations like the Rockerfellers, GM, Ford all aided the Nazis and we hail them as the pride of American innovation! My first car was a 1996 Ford Taurus and it was piece of shit! It would give me trouble all the time and now that I know Ford was helping the Nazis, that makes sense. This is just one small way that Nazi Sympathizer gets a win over minorities.
The obvious one that we’ve seen time and time again is the militarized police be unleashed on protesters asking for less militarized police and to stop murdering innocent civilians! This is a war on American Citizens by the government. And remember Eugene Debs said that the working class don’t declare war or peace, only the oligarchs do that. That has not changed. Rich politicians from Trump to Pelosi to McConnell to Schumer have used their Militarized Police to continue creating upheaval through an emboldened racist system. So wouldn’t that make anyone that uses that cops to wage a war on our streets treasonous?
Whistleblowers aren’t treasonous. They’re heroes. They’re shedding light on a governmental misdeeds and they shouldn’t be punished for that. They should be rewarded. We should be putting authoritarian treasonous war profiteers in prison and giving these Whistleblowers the Nobel Peace Prize!
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!