The silliness in witholding whistleblower’s name when it is already in the public domain…

December 29, 2019

So how long are we supposed to play out this farce of hiding the Trump whistleblower’s name?

I never thought that I would use the term “mainstream media” (well maybe I have previously, but sparingly) because it is code in hard-right speak for left-wing propaganda which it claims is the product of major news organizations, but nonetheless it seems that the mainstream media is acting absurdly by refusing to mention or write his name when it is publicly known.

I heard the name mentioned several weeks ago, a month or more, and I am sure it has been out there a lot longer. I heard it first from Ronn Owens on KGO Radio, San Francisco. He used to have a talk show but now just does a spot I think he calls the Ronn Owens Report. Owens is no far-right guy. I think he claims to be middle of the road but he leans to the left on most things.

But this is not about Ronn Owens. It is about a CIA analyst named Eric Ciaramella. There I wrote it, the alleged name of the alleged whistleblower. And if this is not true — and I cannot attest that it is for sure — then sorry for the error. I was in the news business at one time. If one had to wait until he or she was solid on everything not much would get reported — one does need to be careful and use good judgment, of course. The name and description is indeed on the internet on several places, which of course does not in and of itself support the veracity of it all.

I don’t know what the exact law is on whistleblowers but apparently the idea is to make it possible for some low-level person who witnesses wrongdoing to report it without fear of reprisals. I am also hazy on how far the ban on reporting the name goes in the law. Owens indicated the press (or “media” as some call it — I just think that tag is a pejorative when uttered by right wingers) is not prohibited from reporting the name. I mean that makes sense to me. If we have freedom of the press, as spelled out in the First Amendment, then it would be hard to prohibit an act of press freedom. Such prohibitions have been enacted at times — most famously by alien and sedition acts in war time.

And as Owens himself said, there is a problem here. From what we or he or whoever knows about this whistleblower, he is not non partisan. And who is?

Even though I do not support Trump, the president’s side has a point that Trump should be able to face his accuser.

Being able to face one’s accuser is the backbone of our justice system. I mean how would you like to face false accusations out or nowhere and never be able to come face to face with who is accusing you?

Below all of this I relate such an experience I had.

The fact that the accuser is with the CIA (that is if we assume that is a fact) lends credence to the Trump accusation that there is an entrenched bureaucracy out to get him, he and his followers call the “deep state”.

Now it could be that all or most of the accusations against Trump are true even so. But so far most of what we have are second hand recollections. In some ways Trump has confessed to exactly what he is accused of, that is requesting aid in digging up dirt on a political opponent in exchange for congressionally-approved military aid to the nation of Ukraine. But Trump and his supporters either spin all that another way or just don’t care.

As I understand it, various partisan sites on the internet, Trump supportive of course, have reported the whistleblower’s name. Trump and his supporters, including I guess most Republican senators, who would take part in an impeachment trial, are calling for the whistleblower to testify.

Trump’s legal team is using the tactic of going after the prosecutors. They want one of Trump’s political opponents Joe Biden to testify — he being the subject of the requested probe by Trump. While that to me seems out of order, I am not at all sure whether it is wrong to request or demand that the whistleblower testify in public. After all, he started the whole thing — or at least that is the narative. The whistleblower complaint was used as the pretext for much or all of the investigation against Trump.

I’m a little shaky on the concept of whistleblowers but I see the logic of allowing low-level staffers within government who witness corruption to be able to report it without reprisal. But it seems here we are dealing with a member of a secretive organization, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which leads to suspicion that the president is being attacked by an opposing force in government, much like what happens in non-democratic nations, such as a military coup or one by the secret police.

We have of course already learned that the FBI skirted or broke the rules in obtaining search warrants in the related Russia investigation in which some claim shows that Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians in the 2016 election. Protections against illegal searches and seizures are a cornerstone in our Bill of Rights. While if you have nothing to hide one might say you have nothing to lose, the problem is that if government authorities can willy nilly search and seize your property and documents, you really are not a free person — someone or some body with an agenda can use searches and seizures as harassment and can twist things with them.

I have to realize that one reason for not using the whistleblower’s name is that then he becomes the story. That of course is what Trump the accused wants — change the subject, shift the focus.

Perhaps the whistleblower should testify in public. If he has the courage of his convictions, he can let the senate and the American public hear what he has to say and judge accordingly.

And if there is a value to the whistleblower law then he should not face any retaliation. Of course the White House does not have to let him work there, which he reportedly did at one time.

I think there are far worse things Trump has done and could face impeachment for. For one thing, treason comes to mind. His overly-friendly dealings with Russia and North Korea come to mind.

And maybe the biggie of them all is the indication that Trump cronies somehow capitalized or tried to capitalize on their government connections in shady business deals in Ukraine and elsewhere, ironically what they accuse the Bidens (former VP and son Hunter) of doing.

(That would be a good thing for a free press to sort out.)

And even Trump’s demeanor, his crude behavior, would be a reason to kick him out. He sullies the name of the United States. Yes other countries or people or leaders act like him and worse but we are the United States and should be better than that.

But in the end, if Trump is to be defeated it will likely come at the ballot box.

I just hope that impeachment does not become a common political tool in the future, such as the Democrats win the presidency and right away the Republicans counter with an impeachment probe.

No president so far has been removed from office via impeachment. Nixon came close but he ducked out on his own before he could be kicked out. Well, so in a way, impeachment did oust him, that is the threat of certain impeachment and conviction.

But how that came about is instructive. After the revelations of the Watergate hearings the public, across parties, had finally had enough of Tricky Dick. So the lesson is, it seems, the American people have to support impeachment.

And let’s be honest: Richard Milhouse Nixon for all his flaws was a patriot, a World War II veteran of the Pacific theater of war (not a draft dodger), a keen observer and tactician of international politics, and a man who devoted nearly his whole working life to public service — he had deep-rooted insecurities (don’t most of us?) and he got carried away with the power of the presidency. He paid the price.

I thought Nixon was bad at the time, but compared to Trump he seems like an angel in retrospect.

Trump has devoted his whole life to self-glorification and I guess gratification in a world of sleaze — sleazy business deals and sleazy sex.

I should not go on but I just want to say that even with all of this, Trump has managed to shake things up and make us aware.

So now that we are awake to what can happen when we are complacent, let’s do something about it.


A link to the Ronn Owens Report:

p.s. p.s.

In my first job as a news reporter I had a boss who decided he did not like me for some reason (the feeling was mutual). So one day out of the clear blue he called me in, behind closed doors, for a private chat. He claimed that certain people claimed that my reporting on county Board of Supervisors meetings was not accurate. I was somewhat taken aback. I asked for examples. None forthcoming. I think I may have allowed that no matter how one reports things, someone is bound to claim bias but that I always did my best to be fair and objective. What I failed to ask was: who are these people who are accusing me? I would have liked to have heard first hand from them what the specifics of their accusations were, if indeed these people existed.