Barrett Brown, Barack Obama, and Hugo Chavez: When Telling the Truth Becomes a Crime

I am in the process of writing my Dissertation on Hugo Chavez. I am in the final days, actually, of the writing and editing process, and all of a sudden, I find myself severely constrained by recent events. WikiLeaks is a treasure trove of information for academic research.

Yet, in a library search that I did three days ago, in preparation for a question from my Dissertation Committee on the status of my use of WikiLeaks sources, I found that only thirty-five articles had been published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

In those articles, not a single author had referenced a single WikiLeaks document, nor did any of those articles provide a URL for any WikiLeaks document. At the time, I concluded that the academic community was an extension of The State rather than an extension of The People with a responsibility to oversee and question the activities, policies, and behavior of The State.

Then, yesterday, I received a message containing the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news of the sentencing of Barrett Brown because he posted links online to the Stratfor e-mails that were posted on WikiLeaks.[1] Brown did not hack Stratfor, but as an investigative journalist, reported on the content of the hack and provided links to his readers.

There have been many news articles about the fact and the content of the Stratfor e-mails.[2] As well, information pointing to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informant being involved in the hacking of Stratfor, which raises a whole host of other questions about the continued unlawful conduct of the U.S. government.[3]

Despite several news articles containing sensational information on the Stratfor hack, again, a search of peer-reviewed journals that I conducted just now revealed only one article in a computer-related journal. Therefore, whether the topic was WikiLeaks or Stratfor, the academic community is basically missing in action in examining and investigating this extremely important information.

A walk back in time shows the same reticence on the part of the academic community to use controversial, but declassified, government documents in its research. In searches of the academic literature while I was studying the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the FBI as a part of my Ph.D. research, I found, with a few extremely important exceptions, that the most important COINTELPRO documents remain virtually by-passed by the academic community—even to this date.

With this in mind, I really shouldn’t be surprised to see a lack of the use of WikiLeaks documents, even though the information contained could lead to critical insights on U.S. public policy. Most importantly for those of us who expect to create change in U.S. domestic police state and foreign military policy, it is the most controversial of such documents that deserve scrutiny from not only journalists, but also from the academic community.

The operation of the Deep State is real and must be exposed if the possibility of return to Constitutional rule and the Bill of Rights is possible. Thus, not only are the young people who broke into an FBI office and found and publicized the COINTELPRO papers heroes, so too are our modern day sunshine activists at Cryptome, Narconews, Wayne Madsen Reports, and WikiLeaks.

Whistleblowers like John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Jeffrey Sterling who are either already in jail or in exile until a new United States is created by the rest of us are modern-day profiles in courage.

Barrett Brown joins them in exposing illegal behaviors for which we, the people of the United States, share ultimate responsibility. Therefore, we also bear the responsibility to stop these actions being done in our name with our tax dollars. Brown’s case even received mention on the popular Netflix series, “House of Cards.”[4] On January 23, 2015, he was sentenced to sixty-three months for copying and pasting a link to a publicly available file.

The Obama Administration has compiled a remarkable record of attacks upon, rather than lauding of, whistleblowers who expose illegal government activities. Lee Ann McAdoo at called Brown’s sentence an attack on free speech.[5] Even a critic of Brown’s says that “the charges against Brown give me shivers as a journalist.”[6]

In the 1970s, when illegal government activity was exposed by activists, two Congressional select committees were established to investigate. The Otis Pike[7] House and Frank Church Senate Committees investigated government excesses, including assassination plots against foreign leaders and illegal intelligence activities directed against U.S. citizens.

Today, with few notable exceptions, Congress has capitulated and done nothing to stop to both the egregious activities exposed by the whistleblowers and the mistreatment of the whistleblowers. Thus, both the Obama Administration and the elected Congressional representatives of the people of the United States, sworn to uphold the Constitution, have made it clear whose side they are on—and it’s not ours or Barrett Brown’s.

So, now, what does all of this have to do with Hugo Chavez?

I am writing my Dissertation on Hugo Chavez. And the released COINTELPRO and Church Committee Reports only place the opposition to Chavez in historical context.

The very same links that got Barrett Brown into trouble (instead of the culprits who committed the heinous acts) reveal a contemporaneous attack on the Bolivarian Revolution that even the CIA World Factbook admits succeeded in drastically cutting Venezuelan poverty; was praised by UNICEF[8] for decreasing infant mortality and childhood hunger; UNESCO[9] for the distribution of laptops to all elementary and high school students; and the United Nations for reducing income inequality.

The attacks on the Bolivarian Revolution included efforts to undermine Chavez’s leadership inside Venezuela, in the region, and in his international efforts.

For example, Chavez championed the Africa South America Summit, and the Obama Administration undermined Chavez’s efforts to coordinate—culturally, economically, and militarily–South American countries with their African counterparts.

In fact, the Africa South America Summit was to be held in Libya the year that President Obama launched the seven-month “kinetic activity” that completely destroyed Libya. President Obama’s action also prevented the institutionalization of military cooperation between the two continents intended to protect their sovereignty and independence.

Criminals in positions of authority inside our government use the power of their positions to cower those of conscience who would act to stop the rampant crime spree that passes for U.S. domestic and foreign policy.

They make examples of national security whistleblowers at a time when the national security state is expanding well beyond the benchmarks set by the Church Committee and that the Senator characterized as “illegal and un-American.”[10]

And among the 535 Members of Congress today, there is not a Frank Church to be found. And President Obama has proposed legislation to Congress that would make going after investigative journalists even easier.

As for me, how can I succumb to an academic research regime that, out of fear of government reprisal, requires, in essence, complicity in the cover-up of criminal or unsavory behavior by governmental actors? Does acquiescence to this fear have the effect of making academic research that addresses real political problems as irrelevant to citizens of conscience and action as the so-called mainstream media?

Right now, as I embark upon a new way to solve our problems as a country and community in academia, I feel that an important tool, made available to the public because of the sacrifices of conscientious whistleblowers, is being taken away from us. I feel that criminals inside the government are orchestrating a massive cover-up, insuring their impunity.

So, let me get busy deleting links, eliminating text, and undoing images in my Dissertation that would have provided clear evidence to the people of the United States that their government is actually engaged in behavior too offensive otherwise to believe. Something important to the health of our country is certainly being lost and for me, this is a sad recognition, indeed.



Ms. Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman, is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.

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