A tip of the hat toward Leonard Cohen for his line, “There is a crack, a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard writes of many truths and that is among the great ones.
But it applies to the current spate of corporate and governmental leaks and leakers, over which there seems to be such energetic controversy. The president is in a twit, the CIA tearing itself apart and the Department of Justice continues to unjustly threaten, Alberto Gonzales clawing his way back to 1918 to dust off arcane supporting legislation. The Attorney General cherry-picks later laws, ducking inconvenient judicial opinion to accommodate a lawless president.
It’s an age-old profession, turning in the boss. But we are seldom personally allied with the turners-in, because most of us are fully booked by the day-to-day responsibilities of our own lives and jobs. It’s not so easy to know (let alone understand) what goes on within the inner-sanctum of government or the ‘corporate floor’ of a Fortune 500 company.
Well, we’d better get personally allied, because we’re personally at risk.
For openers, there’s a lot to lose in exposing those environments. On the government side, it’s a civil-service climb for most and, once booted, once tarred with the onerous brush of tipster, you may as well look for work in the private sector. The private sector isn’t all that enamored with truth-tellers, so consider yourself pretty much permanently out of work.
It takes courage or insanity or a combination of both to finally dial that number, carried in a pocket, looked at daily, measured off against a mortgage, a kid still in school and walking away from full-coverage health insurance. That’s on the government side, which sounds like there’s a corporate side that’s different, but it’s really another side of the same coin.
Making a stand means standing alone. Bringing down an errant manager, a corrupt system or a fraudulent department head, first means casting your career into the sewer. That’s as personal as it gets. That’s for a lifetime. Those consequences live on in brilliant Technicolor, long after the headlines have faded to sepia, enforcing a personal cost not many are inclined to pay. Anyone in that position needs to check out www.whistleblowers.org.
Personally, I’m tired of Ken Lay and George Bush controlling the conversation, denigrating those who have the guts to put it all on the line. The business climate has been so warm, humid and inviting to the fruits of fraud that we’re harvesting a bumper crop. Federal government is infused with fraud, feeds on lies and then lies to cover the lies, then sells down the river every promise made and puts the blame on terrorists in foreign lands.
We have become a foreign land.
Perhaps Alberto Gonzales can explain just how this nation was to know that our private telephone calls were being monitored? Marine General Peter Pace might let us in on the Pentagon prescription for finding out our military was, in our name, torturing foreign nationals or prisoners of war or whatever Donald Rumsfeld cared to call them.
We still have a government that flat-out refuses to tell us who was invited into Dick Cheney’s ‘undisclosed location’ to carve up the spoils of our national energy. John Snow, our Treasury Secretary presided over the wholesale looting of the nation’s treasury. Our treasury. Not the treasury of the rich or the treasury belonging to compassionate conservatives. Your money. My money.
The national press and the TV stations are so concentrated in ownership, that when Rush Limbaugh spreads his venom, it’s carried on 500 stations. Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of a foreign, democratically elected, president and he’s not locked up as a nut-case, he’s revered. Adored by a religious right conservative cabal that has forgotten all about charity and humility, giving itself over to the un-Christian motives of hubris, grandiosity and self-indulgence.
Lesser luminaries than Robertson, Muslims all, are in prison for smaller (sometimes infinitely smaller) threats.
Investigative reporting has devolved to coverage of the shocking, as long as it is unimportant and the unimportant, so long as it is shocking. My speech is not as free as your speech, if you have more money, because our highest court has decreed that the ability to buy a larger audience is a more important constitutional freedom than the ability to be heard equally.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it precisely when he said
“We must rapidly begin the shift
from a "thing"-oriented society to a "person"-oriented
society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property
rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets
of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable to being conquered.”
If you think I make a long complaint, show me where I am in error. In times like these the whistleblowers and the leakers are all that stand between us and tyranny. We presently have a government that tends toward tyranny, that leans in its direction, that thirsts for the opportunity to do what they can, not for the national interest but for the narrowest of self-interests.
We are required, each of us, to protect and honor those who, at great personal risk and cost to their families, allow the light to come in.