Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Stewart does Thomas Drake and Obama’s war on whistleblowers

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Leave it to Jon Stewart to cover stories that other media outlets just don’t seem to think are worth sharing with the general public. Here’s last night’s The Daily Show segment on NSA “spy” Thomas Drake and the Obama administration’s brutal (and intensely hypocritical) crackdown on government whistleblowers:

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Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

JON STEWART: Did the Obama administration leak certain flattering information? I highly think yes. And also, this too: On the flip side, when it’s information the Obama administration no likey, they’ve been sons of bitches on government whistleblowers. In fact, our own Jason Jones has more.

JASON JONES (V.O.): We hear a lot of stories about government waste, but there are individuals out there fighting for the taxpayer, like former National Security Agency analyst Thomas Drake.

THOMAS DRAKE: When I was employed at the NSA, one of my responsibilities was to discover the very best that existed at NSA and put it into the fight. And one of those programs was Thinthread.

JONES (V.O.): Thinthread was an efficient, $4 million intelligence gathering program. The problem was, the NSA already had a program called Trailblazer that didn’t quite work, spied on Americans, and … was a tiny bit more expensive. [Note: TDS appears to have mixed up the ‘3’ and ‘4’ figures, here. —JM]

DRAKE: A three-million-dollar program made a four-billion-dollar program look pretty bad.

JONES (V.O.): And after he showed his superiors how much money they could save by implementing Thinthread, he received the government’s highest honor.

DRAKE: I was charged as a spy.

JONES: Sorry – you misspoke?

DRAKE: I was charged under the Espionage Act for blowing the whistle on massive fraud, waste, abuse, and illegalities committed by the U.S. Government.

JONES (V.O.): Whoa! This guy wasn’t some pencil-pushing, cost-benefit analyst! He was a super-spy at war with the Obama administration! We needed to meet more discretely.

[Jones and Drake meet up outside the Washington Memorial, clad in trenchcoats and sunglasses, and shake hands.]

JONES: I think this is a safe place we can talk.

DRAKE: I hope so.

[D.C. officer pulls up on Segway.]

OFFICER: Do you gentlemen have a permit?

JONES: Pardon me?

OFFICER: [points towards camera] You need a permit to film here.

JONES (V.O.): The government had had us tailed, so we met again, far from the watchful eye of Big Brother.

[Jones and Drake meet up outside the Lincoln Memorial.]

JONES: What in the world –?

OFFICER: [speeds up to them on his Segway] Guys, seriously. I told you, you can’t be here without a permit.

JONES: Where the hell are we supposed to shoot in this stupid city, then?

JONES (V.O.): All right, [fuck] it, we went back to the hotel.

[Back at the hotel. Drake sits next to JESSELYN RADACK (Attorney, Government Accountability Project).]

JONES (V.O.): And like any good spy, he brought his lawyer to help him explain why he wasn’t a spy.

DRAKE: Thinthread was a program developed with just a few million dollars. And yet, they shut down the program because it was too effective. It severely embarrassed them.

JONES: So, what did you do about it?

DRAKE: I brought Thinthread to my [?] official. He said, “You don’t wanna ask any more questions, Mr. Drake. Leave it alone.”

JONES (V.O.): Holy [shit]. That meeting would make an awesome [fucking] movie.

[Dramatization, action movie preview style.]

JONES (V.O.): TDS Studios presents …

DRAKE (V.O.): I went to the far ends of NSA to find the truth.

JONES (V.O.): Jason Jones as Thomas Drake.

DRAKE (V.O.): I [took on the bayonet?] for Thinthread.

JONES (V.O.): In … The Whistleblower.

[Jones/Drake breaks into NSA office, scaring the three officials inside, and pulls out two handguns.]

JONES: It’s my way or the die-way!

DRAKE (V.O.): [as Jones/Drake aims gun at NSA official] There were no guns.

JONES/DRAKE: [breaking character] What do you mean, no guns? This is the NSA!

DRAKE: No guns.

JONES: This doesn’t sound very spy-like.

DRAKE: Well, I had my two pieces of paper out.

JONES: So you went in there, two papers a-blazing?

[Take #2: Jones/Drake breaks into NSA office, scares officials inside. Brandishes two fistfuls of papers.]

JONES/DRAKE: I’m here to cut costs and kick ass. And looks like I’m all out of costs.

[Jones/Drake starts brawling with the three men, taking them out with fancy martial arts moves, including punching one on the mouth so hard a spurt of (obviously fake) blood splashes onto a window.]

DRAKE (V.O.): No fighting is actually allowed on NSA premises.

JONES/DRAKE: [breaking character] Oh, come on, that was badass! [glances at “blood” splash] Look at that!

DRAKE: No. Didn’t have to do that; I made an appointment to meet with them.

JONES: I got you.

[Take #3: NSA office door remains closed. CUT TO: Jones/Drake sitting in stuffy office cubicle, talking on the phone.]

JONES/DRAKE: I was just wondering if he was available on the 3rd. He’s – doctor’s appointment. Okay. All right. Guess I’ll hold.

JONES: This is not a very good spy story.

DRAKE: It’s real life.

JONES: So, what came next? What did you do next?

DRAKE: Well, I was not gonna remain silent. I made a faithful decision: to contact a reporter at the Baltimore Sun.

JONES: So, how did you get the secrets out of the NSA? Microscopic dot on your shoe? [Drake points to himself] Hollow esophagus?

DRAKE: Using a very secure email system.

JONES: You used your email.

DRAKE: And I shared with her information revealing publicly for the first time, not only the existence of a program called Thinthread, but massive fraud, waste and abuse.

JONES (V.O.): This desk jockey also revealed that an internal test of Thinthread discovered information in NSA’s own database that might have actually stopped 9/11. And that is when the government sent in their ninja.

[Dramatization: Cloaked ninja comes up corridor, swinging nunchuks.]

DRAKE (V.O.): Actually, there are no ninjas employed by NSA.

[Ninja stops and looks up, disappointed.]

JONES: Who in their right mind would think this guy is a [fuck]ing spy? He’s terrible!

DRAKE: I was an American, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. It’s not criminal to have contact with a reporter.

JONES (V.O.): But according to the government, it is. So they arrested him.

DRAKE: Here I am, facing the prospect of a public trial in which, if I were found guilty, I would essentially spend the rest of my natural life in prison.

JONES (V.O.): But when the media starting publicizing Drake’s case and the NSA’s incompetence became public, it was clear that the ten felony counts were utter [bullshit]. But the government still managed to get him to plead to the most damning charge they could muster.

DRAKE: To exceeding authorized use of a computer.

RADACK: It’s the equivalent to playing too much Facebook on your work computer.

JONES: That’s not a great name for a movie title.

DRAKE: This is not a movie.

JONES: You bet your ass it’s not.

[Fake movie poster: ‘Exceeding Authorized Use of a Computer’; fake newspaper article: ‘Jones bombs at the B.O. / $47K on 5000 screens’]

JONES (V.O.): Drake ruined everything for my movie career. Oh, and also the NSA.

DRAKE: They’ve criminalized First Amendment activities. They’ve criminalized the exposure of criminal activity conducted at the highest levels of our own government.

JONES (V.O.): Or, to put that in legal terms:

RADACK: It’s [fucked] up.

JONES (V.O.): Now that is a much better title.

[Fake movie poster: ‘It’s F@#cked Up’]

In other news, Jason Jones has some sweet moves. (After all, he is Canadian.)