06 November 2019

The Humpty Dumpty Whistleblower

`And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’ 

`I don’t know what you mean by “glory,”‘ Alice said. 

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘ 

`But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument,”‘ Alice objected. 

`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ 

`The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ 

`The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

When Lewis Carroll becomes an apt description of present reality, Clown World has gone too far. 

As evidence that we are in exactly that predicament, I submit the constant media hyperventilation over the (in)famous "whistleblower" who set the Democrats' impeachment of President Trump in motion.

Clear The Air

First, a few declarations are in order, for clarity and completeness:
  1. Without addressing the merits and demerits of the whistleblower, my position in all my commentary on this subject to date is that the Democrats have failed to define any actual offense, much less an impeachable one. My derision of their efforts as a "Clown World Impeachment" follows from this lack of substance.
  2. Process is not substance. Criticisms of the Democrats' impeachment process do not entail an intrinsic belief in the President's ultimate guilt or innocence. Rather, they emphasize that only through an open and deliberate process with scrupulous attention to the rights of the accused can we make a fair and reasoned assessment based on the substance.
  3. As regards substance, my opinion, based on the facts publicly presented thus far, is that the Democrats have none.
With these declarations in hand, it comes as no surprise that I take a dim view of the Democrats' impeachment proceedings. However, that view does not preclude a reasoned evaluation of the treatment accorded by Congress and by the legacy media to the person claiming whistleblower protection for having reported a presumed malfeasance by President Trump.

At the present time, the legacy media is steadfast in its refusal to "out" the whistleblower and share his name with the public. As Howard Kurtz of Fox News reports, the media does not consider it to be their role to provide this information, and that failure to protect his identity would discourage future whistleblowers.

For the record, I do not share Howard Kurtz' conclusion, for the reasons I shall illuminate here, and have zero qualms in mentioning the name that has been associated with the presumed whistleblower, a name which has not been refuted by the whisleblower's own attorneys. Also for the record, let us be clear about who the individual is: Eric Ciaramella, so identified by investigative journalist Paul Sperry for RealClearInvestigations just prior to Halloween.

For the rest of this article, I shall consider Eric Ciaramella to be definitively the "whistleblower".

Is He A Whistleblower?

To appraise Eric Ciaramella as a whistleblower, we just first turn to the relevant law--the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act--found at 50 USC 3033(k)(5) et seq. The key provision is the first paragraph of the section:
An employee of an element of the intelligence community, an employee assigned or detailed to an element of the intelligence community, or an employee of a contractor to the intelligence community who intends to report to Congress a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern may report such complaint or information to the Inspector General.
The thrust of this is simple: people with concerns about how the US government is handling intelligence matters may take those concerns up with the Inspector General (ICIG).  We should also make note of what matters individuals within the Intelligence Community are empowered to report (emphasis added):
In this paragraph, the term “urgent concern” means any of the following:

(i) A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters.

(ii) A false statement to Congress, or a willful withholding from Congress, on an issue of material fact relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity.

(iii) An action, including a personnel action described in section 2302(a)(2)(A) of title 5, constituting reprisal or threat of reprisal prohibited under subsection (g)(3)(B) of this section in response to an employee’s reporting an urgent concern in accordance with this paragraph.
This is where we encounter a problem. If Eric Ciaramella is an Intelligence Community Whistleblower--as the legacy media asserts that he is--then his complaint must involve classified information and must pertain to an intelligence activity, but must not involve an opinion on public policy. Unfortunately for Mr. Ciaramella, President Trump's July 25 telephone call to President Zelensky of the Ukraine does not involve any intelligence activity. The thrust of the call was government corruption and Ukraine's efforts to stamp it out.

Within the context of that July 25 telephone call, there is no "urgent concern" the reporting of which Eric Ciaramella may perform under the aegis of whistleblower protections.

Whatever else he may be, Eric Ciaramella is not a whistleblower, by definition. The law as it is written does not extend that status to him in any capacity.

Who Is Eric Ciaramella?

Even Presidents enjoy a Sixth Amendment right to face their accuser. Thus, it is not only appropriate but imperative that the persona of Eric Ciaramella be fleshed out. As it happens, that persona already has a certain color and  involvement with the efforts to "get" President Trump via the Russian Collusion Hoax. As has been documented by Gateway Pundit and other sources:
At a minimum, Eric Ciaramella comes to this controversy with a bit of personal baggage.

Yet even if that were not true, there are still other aspects of Ciaramella's backstory that are troubling, not the least of which is his interaction with Congressman Adam Schiff and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence before he communicated his concerns regarding the July 25 telephone call to the ICIG.

The impact of any of this information on the substance of what he reported is a matter to be adjudicated openly, either by the House of Representatives, the Senate, or the public at large. For this reason alone, not only does Ciaramella not enjoy any expectation of anonymity, but it is imperative that he not remain anonymous. His identity, and his backstory, as relevant facts to the impeachment inquiry, and cannot be considered so long as he hides behind anonymity (brief pause to note the irony of a person named repeatedly on the Internet enjoying "anonymity" in the legacy media).

Why Call Him A Whistleblower?

All of the foregoing begs the question of why the legacy media persists in referring to Eric Ciaramella as "the whistleblower." He is no such creature, and provably so. 

We should note here that the term "whistleblower" carries a connotation of one who reports wrongdoing at great personal risk and expense to himself:
an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency and who is commonly vested by statute with rights and remedies for retaliation
While Eric Ciaramella may be placing his employment in jeopardy by his current course of action, it should be noted that there is no plausible basis for any notion that his personal safety is at issue. If anything, it is the defenders of President Trump and not his detractors who have had to look to their personal safety. As for "retaliation", even within government circles the mere continuation of the impeachment imbroglio attests to the probability that Ciaramella would not lack for employment opportunities in the future. Beyond the obvious concerns of a job, "retaliation" is not a plausible concern for Eric Ciaramella.

Yet the legacy media persists in labeling him as "the whistleblower", not because he is, but because the legacy media wants him to be. In true Humpty Dumpty fashion, the legacy media has decided the term "whistleblower" will mean whatever they wish it to mean. For them, "whistleblower" is "a government worker who makes salacious and inflammatory accusations against the President."

Nor is it difficult to surmise why the legacy media would do this. For both Democrats and the legacy media, the implication that there is wrongdoing at issue greatly strengthens their public presentation of their case, and gives all the impeachment hysteria justification. The tactic seeks to put Trump's defenders on the back foot by narrowing the debate to the scope and magnitude of the wrong done, not debating whether in fact any wrong was done at all.

Unfortunately for them, the question of whether there is any impeachable offense involved in the July 25 call is very much the essential question of the moment. It is the essential question because the letter of the law, both within the Constitution and within federal statute, argues mightily against there being any corrupt act by President Trump with regards to that call. Far from being a debate over whether there was an impeachable offense, the real debate is whether there was an offense at all--and the evidences thus far strongly suggest there is no offense, impeachable or otherwise. Even the closed-door depositions of various witnesses such as the former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch do not establish any form of "quid pro quo", corrupt, or otherwise.

These inconvenient realities are all swept aside and ignored by granting Eric Ciaramella the inappropriate appellation of "the whistleblower." In this latest "Orange Man Bad" narrative, sarcastically named "Russian Collusion 2: Ukrainian Boogaloo" by the Twitterverse, facts which undermine the claims are studiously suppressed, most particularly by the legacy media (which seems to not have learned from the Russian Collusion Hoax the lunacy of putting their collective thumb on the scale of a story).

Words Matter

Whether Donald Trump's policies or attitudes towards Ukraine are appropriate or inappropriate is a policy matter that, for this discussion, I will not address. People of good conscience can disagree in good conscience over such matters. Yet, in good conscience, we must address the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be. We must use the words which convey our most accurate understanding of the facts, and we must alter our words as our understandings evolve with the addition of new facts and a more nuanced context. Regardless of the position we take on any topic, the words we use do matter.

It matters that Eric Ciaramella is wrongly termed a "whistleblower". It matters that his allegations, regardless of whatever factual predicates he might have, are incorrectly granted the moral heft inherent in someone reporting "wrongdoing". It matters that the legacy media cynically distorts the facts of his allegation by automatically imputing a sense of malfeasance to President Trump's actions--that imputation is a pre-judging of guilt that is logically unsound, morally indefensible, and absolutely at odds with all established notions of due process and the rule of law.

The legacy media is not Humpty Dumpty, and even if this is Clown World we have not gone through the looking glass. This is the real world. In every Clown World narrative, the consequences are felt in this real world. Though the legacy media may wish to assign whatever meanings it finds convenient to words, no honest discussion, no meaningful debate, can long abide such intellectual insanity. For us to grasp the nettle of President Trump's actions, both good and bad, we must use language honestly, and we must ground our words in the empirical reality that surrounds us.

We must stop calling Eric Ciaramella "the Whistleblower". The Humpty Dumpty Whistleblower is no Whistleblower at all, merely a fictionalized media creation intended to further an already decrepit and largely debunked narrative.

The Humpty Dumpty Whistleblower is a media fiction, but Eric Ciaramella is a real person. He has made real allegations about a real event against a very real President Trump. We should give full weight to all that Eric Ciaramella has to say, but we should do so here in the real world, and not venture once more through the looking glass into Clown World.

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