Whistleblowers pay price for revealing sensitive material

WASHINGTON Here is what’s happened to some government employees who revealed less sensitive information to expose waste, fraud or abuse or other ills in federal agencies.


Army Green Beret Jason Amerine headed a Pentagon effort to win freedom for U.S. hostages in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But he got in trouble after criticizing an FBI-led deal in which five Taliban were freed from Guantanamo Bay in return for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held in Pakistan for five years. Amerine argued that six other western hostages were left behind, but when he collaborated with California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, he was accused of improperly releasing classified information and he was stripped of his security clearance. His status is in limbo.


John Deutch, a CIA director under President Bill Clinton, escaped prosecution in the late 1990s for allegedly using unsecured computers at his home and a personal email account to access classified defense information. On his last day in office, President Clinton pardoned Deutch to avoid any future charges.


Lawrence Criscione, a Nuclear Energy Commission engineer, shared with 13 members of Congress a 19-page letter warning the agency chief in 2012 that a Fukushima-like meltdown could occur at a South Carolina nuclear power plant if an upstream dam burst. The U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Ill. rejected the agency inspector general’s request that Criscione be charged with a felony for releasing sensitive information.


Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count and avoided jail time in 2005 for briefly removing classified documents from a reading room at the National Archives two years earlier. He did later surrender his license to practice law.


Marine Reserves Maj. Jason Brezler emailed to troops in Afghanistan a classified dossier about a corrupt former Afghan district police chief who had collaborated with the Taliban, warning that he was back in Helmand Province. His message never reached the troops, three of whom were shot dead in a gymnasium. A Marine board of inquiry has recommended Brezler’s discharge for exposing classified information.


Lewis “Scooter” Libby, an aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury to conceal the leak to the news media of the classified identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame. President George W. Bush commuted his 30-month prison sentence.


John Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst, was the first government official to describe as torture the technique known as “waterboarding” used in interrogations of al-Qaida prisoners. Kiriakou identified the name of a CIA interrogator to a magazine reporter, who never published it. Kiriakou pleaded guilty in 2012 to passing classified information to avoid espionage charges and got 2 ½ years in prison. No interrogator has been prosecuted.


Gen. David Petraeus resigned as CIA director in 2012 amid an FBI investigation into disclosures that, while heading U.S. forces in Afghanistan, he improperly shared classified material with a North Carolina woman who was both his mistress and biographer. Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was spared a prison sentence..


Robert Maclean, a Federal Air Marshal, told a television news reporter in 2003 that the Transportation Security Administration was pulling sky marshals off long-haul flights requiring a hotel stay due to a budget crunch. Two days earlier, the marshals had been briefed on new al-Qaida suicide hijacking plots. MacLean was fired for passing sensitive information. He spent nine years fighting in court to win his job back, finally winning a Supreme Court ruling early this year. By then, he said, he was “officially indigent.”


CIA Director Leon Panetta was spared prosecution in 2011 after revealing classified information about the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden to a Hollywood screenwriter during a classified awards ceremony for the unit involved.

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