As a Presidential candidate, Barack Obama said that whistleblowing by government employees was an act "of courage and patriotism" that should be "encouraged rather than stifled," as David Wise reported in Smithsonian Magazine dated August 2011. But once elected, he has brought five criminal cases against government officials charged with whistleblower disclosures to news media, compared with only three under all previous administrations combined, reported Scott Shane in the June 17 New York Times. He has been filing criminal charges under the WWI-era Espionage Act, designed to deal with enemy spies, so that officials who gave information to news media in order to expose government corruption, are faced with possible decades of prison-time, or possibly life, like Aldrich Ames and other actual spies.
And even as he has continued the illegal Bush-Cheney programs of warrantless government wiretapping, Obama has also pursued cases against the officials suspected of bringing that illegal conduct to light through the press during the previous administration.
Stephen J. Kim, a lifelong public servant with a distinguished record, now faces a possible 15 years in prison for giving a Fox News reporter more information than his superiors, who had told him to talk to the news network, thought appropriate. Kim is a leading US expert on North Korean arms who has worked for Lawrence Livermore, for DOD, and then the State Department, and was tasked to brief then Vice-President Cheney on North Korean weapons programs.
Most recently, Obama's case against fired NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, ended as a fiasco. Drake had been forced to leak a story of NSA corruption and Constitutional violations to Congress and to a Baltimore Sun reporter, after the NSA Inspector-General and others refused to pursue his story. He was charged with ten felonies under the Espionage Act and other laws, and faced up to 35 years in prison. But on June 9, he accepted a plea bargain in which he admitted to a misdemeanor, under condition that would serve no prison time, and pay no fine.
Nevertheless, Drake, who has worked in intelligence most of his adult life, was forced out of the NSA in 2008, and now works in a computer store