With the identity of the Trump-Ukraine “whistle-blower” being fairly certain at this point, we’ve been treated to a total blockade of his name from the mainstream media. For some reason, they can leak the identities of Israeli spies to stick it to Trump and mountains of classified intelligence over the years in general, but a political actor who filed a complaint is a bridge too far. Even Fox News, who I’m really starting to wonder about, has given a directive not to reveal his name.
So who is he? You’ve probably already seen the reports or seen where Donald Trump Jr. named him yesterday. He’s been pegged as a CIA analyst named Eric Ciaramella who has partisan ties to Joe Biden and John Brennan. Shocker, right?
One of the dumber takes to emanate from this revelation is that it’s somehow “illegal” to share his name.
"it is a federal crime to out a whistleblower… My law degree says it is." pic.twitter.com/iLuW50RCHI
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 7, 2019
Shouldn’t @jack ban users who break the law and threaten someone’s life? Why then does #DonaldTrumpJr still have an account? I reported him. If everyone here did the same it might get @jack attention. He illegally outed and knowingly endangered the safety of alleged whistleblower
— Nancy Lee Grahn (@NancyLeeGrahn) November 6, 2019
Here’s Jeffrey Toobin, who gets paid to give ridiculously wrong hot takes like this on a daily basis.
To put it lightly, no, that’s not how this works at all. Here’s the relevant statute and there are few obvious points here.
One, the statute clearly only applies to the actions of the Inspector General. The ICIG is not supposed to reveal the name of someone who files a complaint unless they deem it necessary. So even in so far as the ICIG is concerned, there’s discretion and a lot of it is advisory in nature.
Second, it is completely clear that no one else has any legal obligation to protect the whistle-blower’s identity at all. Such would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment even past the lack of statutory requirement. This includes Congressional members like Rand Paul (who’s threatened to name Ciaramella). They not only have the same right as you or I do to name the whistle-blower publicly, but they have even further immunity under the auspices of their office.
Want more proof I’m right? Rep. Eric Swalwell admits it by saying he’s going to introduce legislation to make it illegal.
In the future, you will go to jail if you out a whistleblower. Legislation coming.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 7, 2019
Democrats simply don’t give a crap about the Constitution, but I digress.
Whistle-blower laws have never centered on anonymity and the idea that Eric Ciaramella deserves such is ludicrous. The point of these laws has always been to stop reprisal and punishment for speaking out. Yet, when you are a material witness to what you are “blowing the whistle” on, it is an absolute expectation that you will be identified and made to testify, whether it’s a court proceeding or a Congressional one. Anyone saying otherwise is simply making things up.
Apparently, CNN and others are just fine with lying to their audiences about this, but no worries. No one is going to jail for saying Eric Ciaramella’s name out loud.
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