Candidate Obama’s Tribute to “Courage and Patriotism” of Whistleblowers Disappears 2 Days after First Snowden Revelations

Sunlight Foundation discovers the Obama Administration has removed access to his 2008 campaign promises from the White House website. It suggests one of the promises Obama may want to hide has to do with his support for whistleblowers.

While front splash page for for has linked to the main White House website for years, until recently, you could still continue on to see the materials and agenda laid out by the administration. This was a particularly helpful resource for those looking to compare Obama’s performance in office against his vision for reform, laid out in detail on

According to the Internet Archive, the last time that content (beyond the splash page) was available was June 8th — last month.

Why the change?

Here’s one possibility, from the administration’s ethics agenda:

Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

It may be that Obama’s description of the importance of whistleblowers went from being an artifact of his campaign to a political liability.

To be fair, Obama did extend whistleblower protection beyond that of the law last year — though he did it largely in secret.

Of course, that came at the same time as Obama rolled out an Insider Threat Detection system that seems designed to discourage anyone from speaking out … about anything.

And then there’s the issue of all the whistleblower prosecutions.

But if Obama did hide his campaign promises specifically to hide this tribute to the “courage and patriotism” of whistleblowers, then I find the timing particularly interesting. June 8 was just two days after the first Edward Snowden release (at a time, moreover, when the Guardian had reported only issues that went to lies James Clapper and Keith Alexander had told, making Snowden’s claim to be unable to go through regular channels quite credible).

Mind you, Obama could be hiding other promises. I still think promises about mortgages and homes are his biggest failure.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

12 replies
  1. bittersweet says:

    “Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistle blower claims and whistle blowers have full access to courts and due process.”

    I would argue that the Obama has followed through with this promise…with a vengeance! Ask Bradly Manning. He has access to a court process. Though the meaning of”due” in the process is in question. s/

  2. bsbafflesbrains says:

    Obama’s true legacy…arguing what his biggest failure was.
    Remember the google fun looking up failure and getting GWB’s picture? Good times

  3. Nigel says:

    A bit of a stretch to argue that Manning’s access to a court process was expedited, though.

    And “due” must mean that they get what’s coming to them.

  4. newz4all says:

    Unlocking the latest Senator Wyden code: Does NSA operate a bulk domestic location tracking program?

    Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has a habit of dropping hints to the public about classified information related to the surveillance state. In remarks to the Center for American Progress earlier this week, he hinted that the bombshell revelations about NSA spying — ranging from mass metadata collection to invasive PRISM snooping — are really just the tip of the iceberg. Of particular interest were comments that could be read as implying that the government operates bulk, domestic location tracking programs, and also uses malware to turn our cell phones into bugs and spy cameras.

    The Senator did not explicitly disclose any such programs, but there is ample reason to believe this speech was meant to sound warning bells about precisely those issues. That’s because Ron Wyden has a habit of finding clever ways to inform the public about secret surveillance programs, without running afoul of the secrecy rules that prevent him from explicitly disclosing classified information.

  5. newz4all says:

    Rep. Amash discusses failed NSA bill

    Amendment failed by a slim margin

    When asked what his efforts would be on the issue moving forward, Amash said he would keep pushing forward.

    “Representative Conyers and I have a bill called the Liberty Act and that has over 40 co-sponsors very bi-partisan, it’s split almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats,” Amash said, “We expect legislation like that, if not this legislation, to go through judiciary committee and get a full committee markup and hopefully come to the floor sometime in this next term.”

    Social media and comment sections exploded with support for the Amash amendment</b. but it was strongly opposed by the leadership of his own party.

  6. lefty665 says:

    “I still think promises about mortgages and homes are his biggest failure.”

    But there’s so much to choose from. The use of the ultimately unconstitutional Espionage Act twice as often as all other administrations combined since 1917 is right up there. Actually, “Change we can believe in” may be the biggest fraud of all. Almost everywhere you look it’s been Same or Worse. BO stinks, and the president doesn’t smell very good either.

    @4 “turn our cell phones into bugs and spy cameras.” Ccmputers and tablets too, anything with web access is a candidate. Don’t forget land lines. NSA’s been turning them into bugs for at least 50 years.

  7. geoschmidt says:

    I think the greatest benefit/legacy of the Barry regime will be the sort of… well… you have to start waking up there people/sheeps!

    See the way that the government works in the way it does its wonderful works! See how it is not unlike a “puppet show”, while other important things go on with not too much of the MSM’s attentiveness!

    Distraction much? The face of government: THem assholes that occupy the three branches of the faux gov.
    are not of any importance when you factor in, that nothing makes any difference because the lack of enforcement of long time standing law. THey only make new law, and it is all BS!

  8. C says:

    @bsbafflesbrains: Although it is off-topic let us not forget the blatant violation of the War Powers Act in Libya. Not only did he exceed the 90 day cap but they did not even deign to ask for permission even though Congress would have given it. Even before DNI Clapper’s comments this amounted to spitting on congress in a big big way.

    For my money though the signle greatest failure will be Anwar Al Awlaki. Yes he protected fraudulent banks, yes he supported warrantless spying, yes he went to war without authorization, and yes he seems to be screwing up portions of his signature initiative.

    But in terms of sheer awfulness you cannot beat assassinating two American Citizens without trial based soley on your own secret evidence against one of them.

    That is a clear and awful line to cross and he danced over it!

    My worry is, there may be no crossing back.

  9. P J Evans says:

    There’s so much stuff to deal with, that he doesn’t seem to get is important to most of us, but not to the corp-rats he talks with.

  10. oldpatriot says:

    If you read through the “Whistleblower Enhanced Protection act” signed by Obama last year its clear to see that it did anything but protect them, instead it applied rules that said federal employees can be fired for failure to report a coworker as a potential whistelblower. It makes whistleblower proclivities tests as part of the job review process and punishes managers and directors for not stopping whistleblowers in their department. Democrat or republican is irrelevant, the question today is fascist or freedom fighter !

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