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Tuesday, 08 January 2013 11:35

Stretching from the CIA to Your Local Police, a "Code of Silence" Keeps the Truth From the Public

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Truthout's lead investigative reporter Jason Leopold has broken and covered a large number of stories internationally on the United States torture program (euphemistically called the "enhanced interrogation program" by the government), including the legal pursuit and impending jailing of former CIA agent John Kiriakou.

Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake has an update on the case (including a photo of Leopold interviewing Kiriakou). It's a rather complicated matter with a lot of nuance, but it would be difficult disagree with Gosztola's headline, "The Only CIA Officer Scheduled to Go to Jail Over Torture Never Tortured Anybody."



Jason Leopold, Truthout's Lead Investigative Reporter, Interviewed John Kiriakou


Gosztola deplores the double standard of the Obama administration's (and before that the Bush administration's) "code of silence":

Scooter Libby gets to move forward and continue to enjoy the fact that he is not in jail for his involvement in leaking Valerie Plame’s name because his sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush. Dick Cheney gets to move forward with the publication of a “memoir” about his heart (the organ and not what makes us capable of discerning right from wrong). Those who authorized and engaged in torture get to continue their upward trajectory on whatever career path in government they have chosen and retire handsomely. And, if you’re Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, you can keep promoting your book while ensuring the public ignores how you had a role in the destruction of tapes of torture and harsh interrogations and still support waterboarding detainees—a war crime.

Kiriakou, on the other hand, must stop his life. It is not enough that the government already ruined his life with their prosecution. The Obama administration has decided he must walk away from his home and family and go to prison.

It is significant to emphasize that President Obama is proud of his selective enforcement of the "code of silence":

He [Obama] boasted during his 2012 presidential campaign: “The Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many cases under the Espionage Act as all other administrations combined.” As president, “the Justice Department prosecuted six cases regarding national security leaks.” Before he was elected, federal prosecutors had used the Espionage Act in only three cases. He was proud his administration had used a World War I law aimed at chilling dissent against the war to target government employees sharing information to promote public discussion.

But, as noted concerning the authorizers and perpetrators of torture, breaking the "code of silence" is okay for the insiders who support the government's position or propaganda efforts:

Strikingly, as McClatchy reported, senior Defense Department official, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, was recently found to have “provided the makers of the film Zero Dark Thirty with the restricted name of a US Special Operations Command officer who helped plan the May 2, 2011, raid on bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan.” However, the case was referred to the Justice Department and the department has thus far declined to launch a criminal investigation.

Leopold has been tenacious in uncovering this ongoing government betrayal of justice and the public's right to know.

But it is more than just the intelligence community that perpetuates a twisted "code of silence." Truthout recently highlighted a story largely overlooked by the national press: "Federal Jury Finds City of Chicago Responsible for 'Code of Silence' in Chicago Police Department."  In this case, the "code of silence" (which is also called the "blue curtain") is used pejoratively as a means of protecting those who abide by an omerta of protecting members of the "team," whether their behavior merits punishment or not.

As BuzzFlash wrote in a follow-up commentary, "The Year of the Code of Silence: Putting a Gag on Democracy":

In Chicago, when Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago were given a tongue lashing by the federal judge for trying to erase a jury finding that the Windy City at best tolerates a "code of silence," one law professor commented that Emanuel had sought a "code of silence on the code of silence."

That is a key feature of our new globalized nation: the managerial and wealthy in entrenched power wrap us in a "code of silence" about the issues that are vital to democracy and to the future of life on this planet.  They create a smokescreen of jingoism and false historical narratives to justify our national greed, selfishness and inequality.

One finding against the City of Chicago is symbolic of a national effort to keep us docile and submissive.

Indeed as Leopold's reporting in Truthout reveals on the national level – as reaffirmed in Gosztola's article – and BuzzFlash recounts on the local law enforcement level in Chicago, there is compelling evidence that those who are supposed to be protecting us engage in behavior where protecting themselves is the priority.

Justice should be impartial, not biased toward a team of insiders.

Afternote: The Obama administration's nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, after he served as deputy executive director of the agency during the height of the rendition and torture years, further highlights how support of insider DC accepted policies -- even though President Obama has renounced torture -- insulates one from investigation or prosecution.  It can even lead to promotion, as the Brennan nomination evidences.