• An Act of Conscience to Speak Out

    February 10, 2012

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq

    The Department of State claims it can deny me the opportunity to speak or write publicly in violation of my First Amendment rights, and your First Amendment rights to listen to me if you wish.

    When I sought this permission to speak, I was told that I must write out my speech word-for-word for them to edit, alter, change, or refuse to allow at all, and that I could not speak extemporaneously and could not take questions from my audience. I was told that if I read out loud from my book I would be violating the State Department’s rules on divulging classified information, even though my book contains no classified information.

    When I sought their permission to write, I was told people would mistake my writing for an official statement and permission was denied. As implemented, State’s rules amount to simple prior restraint.

    The State Department believes that American Citizens give up their Constitutional rights for the privilege of employment. The Supreme Court said no, in Pickering v. Board of Education.

    When I joined the State Department, the oath I swore was to the Constitution. When I speak, I am upholding the Constitution. When I speak, the State Department instead claims I am insubordinate.

    So be it.

    So it became an act of civil disobedience for the New York Times to publish my writing today. If my writing was insubordinate, then publishing was abetting my violation. Will State discipline the Times or just seek to bully me?

    So it became an act of civil disobedience for RT.com to invite me to speak on camera about how whistleblowers are treated by our government. Will State discipline RT.com or just seek to bully me?

    So it became an act of civil disobedience for these places to publish my writing about my case and those of other whistleblowers:


    CBS News

    Huffington Post


    The Nation

    Middle East Online

    Mother Jones

    Opposing Views


    Michael Moore’s blog

    Juan Cole Informed Comment

    Arab News

    Democratic Underground


    Democracy Japan

    Maine has a proud Yankee tradition of standing up to tyrants and bullies, and so it became an act of civil disobedience for Maine’s Mid Coast Forum on Foreign Relations to allow me to speak in front of a group of over 150 people, most of whom work or worked in the foreign affairs field. It was with a sense of responsibility absent in today’s Foggy Bottom that several members of the audience told me they had retired from State and were saddened to learn how far from the ideals of free speech the organization that they– and I– served had fallen. Many in the audience agreed to donate to the non-profit organization that is representing me in my struggle to speak out.

    The Forum recorded my entire speech, which will air throughout the State of Maine on public broadcasting in spite of the Department of State’s efforts to prevent people from hearing what I have to say.

    If you want to join me in these acts of civil disobidience, do something against the State Department’s version of the law: listen to my speech in Maine.

    We don’t live in Egypt, or Syria or anywhere else where the government can control what you listen to. If the Secretary of State will go before those people and speak for their rights to talk back to their governments, she should damn well allow the same for her own employees.

    So it became an additional act of civil disobedience that in response to a request from the students of the University of Maine, I stood up and spoke to them too. It shouldn’t be an act of courage, but it was, because the US Department of State refused me permission. And because the students at a public university have a First Amendment right to listen, I stood up and exercised my First Amendment right to speak.

    You can read about the speech here.

    The State Department declared that this was an act of insubordination. I stand in broader footprints and declare it was an act guaranteed by the Constitution.

    What do you say Mrs. Clinton? Is this insubordination? Is this the Department of State you lead? Is this the message, the America, you represent?

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