Latest News Headlines Call Attention To New Whistleblower Film
Interview by Jim Heath and Tracy Townsend for 10TV, Central Ohio's News Leader.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - As the investigation continues into why the Obama administration used secret subpoenas to check into the phone records of Associated Press reporters, one filmmaker is hoping Americans better understand the role of whistleblowers.
"These men and women, we should be giving them parades down the main streets of our towns and cities for what they've done," said Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films. "Instead, incident after incident, the Justice Department, or whatever department, decides it's being threatened and goes after them."
Greenwald produced the new documentary called "War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State" which examines the corruption and fraud made by government and the military industrial complex.
"It's important to remember this is not about national security, rather this is about the national security state trying to protect itself from exposure," said Greenwald during an interview for 10TVs Capitol Square. "Protect itself from our knowing about waste, fraud, abuse and breaking of the laws."
Greenwald's documentary features a variety of national reporters who argue whistleblowers have been under increased attacks in recent years by both the Bush and Obama administrations.
"We try very hard to connect the dots for people, and here the dots connected pretty quickly," said Greenwald. "No matter which administration, no matter who the president was, this national security state, this industrial military complex - not in an illegal fashion but rather very upfront - was working over and over again to make sure that secrets were kept. And to try, frankly, to protect the darkness. That's how this security state functions."
Before a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said he was not sure how many times he had signed off on subpoenas to seize reporter records.
Both Republicans and Democrats have condemned the action.
Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland said, "This is activity that should not have happened and must be checked from happening again."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has called on Holder to resign, saying he had "trampled on the First Amendment."
The White House Wednesday, in a move likely to distance itself from the scandal, announced support for the Free Flow of Information Act which would protect journalists from being forced to testify about confidential sources, unless all other avenues are exhausted.
"As we're seeing in the headlines today, around the White House and the Associated Press, journalists more and more are being targeted and threatened, pressure is being put on them, lawsuits have been introduced against some journalists, more will probably come," said Greenwald. "As New York Times reporter Jim Risen says in a clip, can you have a democracy without real investigative reporting? That's a serious question."
The documentary highlights several key whistleblowers including Thomas Tamm, a justice department attorney who disclosed the Bush administrations warrantless wiretapping.
It also points out the Obama administration’s use of the Espionage Act to go after a record number of whistleblowers the last five years.
"I think it's important for each one of us to do whatever we can," said Greenwald. "We're not all going to be whistleblowers, we're not all going to be heroes in that way, but dammit this is our democracy and we can do something."
Greenwald is an award-winning television, film and documentary filmmaker. He has directed more than 50 TV movies, miniseries and films. He is already working on his next documentary tentatively called Drones Exposed.
More from the interview with Greenwald can be seen this Sunday on Capitol Square, airing at 11:30 am on 10TV following Face the Nation.