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Each week, LA Progressive’s editors pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy "Feedback Friday" response comes from Tom Hall, a regular LA Progressive contributor, who commented on the article by Norman Solomon, "MoveOn’s Phony New Campaign for ‘Protecting Whistleblowers’."

Protecting Whistleblowers

I applaud LA Progressive for continuing to publish the essays of Trump zealot Norman Solomon. It is good for the progressive community to see what the Trump 2020 re-election campaign is up to.

But Norman Solomon’s attack on MoveOn is really typical Republican misleading doublespeak. MoveOn has done a lot to help spread progressive thinking and move the Democratic Party back from the “Republican-Lite” positions of Bill Clinton. MoveOn is perceived as a real danger by the Trump organization and its Republican Party foot soldiers.

As we hear, “No quid pro quo” as a defense to legal problems that don’t involve “quid pro quos”, Norman Solomon now works zealously to blur the lines between “whistleblowers” and “leakers.” This is done for the explicit purpose of helping the Trump re-election campaign by confusing people about what is actually going on.

MoveOn has done a lot to help spread progressive thinking and move the Democratic Party back from the “Republican-Lite” positions of Bill Clinton.

Both “whistleblowers” and “leakers” have made valuable contributions to our national PUBLIC awareness (not always knowledge) of internal government operations. Both deserve public acclaim for the good they have done. But they are two very different legal classes of people (although a whistleblower can also become a leaker, or inspire leakers).

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Whistleblowers work within statutorily designed legal structures for exposing misconduct WITHIN the government. For working within the statutory framework, whistleblowers get specific legal rights and protections. (Our history of whistleblowers shows that whistleblowers essentially NEVER personally benefit from their activity, and often suffer for it, despite their legal protection.)

Leakers do not work within any statutory scheme. They generally ignore laws that they don’t like and proceed to reveal government secrets (bad or good) without any pretense of trying to work within any political system. The law does not afford them the protections that whistleblowers receive. They KNOW before they start that they are playing by different rules and incur different legal risks from whistleblowers.

MoveOn and Whistleblower Aid understand this distinction, as does Norman Solomon. Whistleblower Aid exists to help people who work within the statutory structure for whistleblower protections. This does not alter the fact that leakers may also need legal protection. But their protection is not what the Whistleblower Aid organization is for.

The Trump administration is trying to destroy protection for whistleblowers. Trump has called for an end to anonymity for whistleblowers, and has called for presecuting them for “treason.” Treason for people who are working within the system to protect the system from the treason of Trump.

Norman Solomon’s attack on MoveOn and Whistleblower Aid is simply a part of the Trump effort to destroy whistleblower protections by attacking those who work to make the statutory protections (slight as they are) as effective as possible. To do this by pretending to want to “defend” leakers is obscene.

At least Norman Solomon is a good indicator of what Trump’s internal polling is showing. After months of hammering at Biden, whom Trump most feared as an opponent, Norman Solomon now jumps on the “impeachment defense” bandwagon, by attacking whistleblower protection. We will know when Elizabeth Warren truly emerges as a front-runner when Norman Solomon is instructed to start attacking her. And, of course, he will pretend to be attacking her from the “left.”

Tom Hall

Tom Hall