April 26, 2011

Coleen Rowley: Obama is not listening

On April 12, FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley visited Duluth to rally support for Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence specialist accused of leaking evidence of US war crimes to Wikileaks. Representatives of NAWC and Veterans for Peace joined Rowley for a noon press conference at the Duluth Civic Center, which was covered by local television stations and KUWS radio. 

“Disclosing fraud, waste, abuse, a risk to public safety or an illegal act is heroic."
Coleen Rowley

Tom Palumbo, a 12-year veteran of the US Army and registered nurse, told members of the media that the conditions of Manning's pre-trial confinement - including sleep deprivation and extreme isolation - were unethical and could lead to long-term physical and mental health problems for the 23-year-old private. 

Rowley spoke about her experience exposing both the failure of US intelligence agencies to follow leads on the planned 9/11 attack and the increased risk of terrorism that would result from an invasion of Iraq. She said that after 24 years in the FBI she is convinced that transparency is vital to democracy and national security. “Disclosing fraud, waste, abuse, a risk to public safety or an illegal act is heroic," she said, but added that "it’s very difficult to do,” especially for members of the military who have "no ability to speak up." Unfortunately, whistle-blower protection laws have little chance of clearing Congress, she said, and Obama appears more eager than Bush to prosecute people who expose wrong-doing, as evidenced by Manning's case.

Check out local coverage of the press conference here:

Later that evening, Rowley delivered the final lecture in the Terrorism and Human Rights series at the College of St Scholastica. If you missed it, here's the full lecture. You can watch other speakers in the series at St Scholastica's YouTube channel.

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