If you’re able to leave your house without the threat of being spirited into an unmarked car by angry intelligence officials, you’re having a better day than Edward Snowden. He’s the 29-year-old fellow who photocopied classified information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and passed it along to a journalist at The Guardian newspaper. Now he’s holed up in a hotel room/safe house/bunker in Hong Kong, trying to out-maneuver those who would like to see him extradited back to the United States.
Snowden is not the only person in the news because of his secrets or habit of spilling them. Here’s a sampling from around the world:
1. The State Department Has Whistleblowers, Too. NSA has not cornered the market on employees willing to turn over documents. Aurelia Fedenisn was an investigator at the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General. She had been looking into allegations that the agency was covering up the use of drugs and prostitutes by security details during the tenure of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Fedenisn has stated that the State Department interfered with her investigations, and then “watered down” the report she issued as a result of her findings. After taking her concerns and complaints to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), she turned over related documents to him. The State Department is now investigating Fedenisn and threatening criminal charges against her. For simile aficionados, this situation is like a merry-go-round of finger-pointing.
2. The State Department Should Take Its Cue from The SEC. David Weber was an assistant inspector general at the Securities and Exchange Commission. In March 2012, he exposed possible misconduct by a superior who was engaging in sexual relationships with women who worked for him. Weber also raised security concerns about SEC computers that contained stock exchange data. Weber was placed on administrative leave in May 2012, after he allegedly threatened to bring a gun to work and occasionally wore a bullet-proof vest to the office. While on leave, Weber took his data-security concerns to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The SEC fired Weber in October, and he sued the agency in federal court. The case has now been settled, with Weber receiving a $580,000 payout and the option to return to his former position. For personification aficionados, this would be a great time for the SEC to say to the State Department, “been there, done that.”
3. The Pope Learns Private Audiences Aren’t So Private. On June 6, Pope Francis met with representatives of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious, the regional organization for priests and nuns of religious orders. The group prepared a summary of the Pope’s remarks, and that summary has now, somehow, been leaked. It included a reference to the Pope’s discussion of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican. The comment is significant, in part, because former Pope Benedict is rumored to have abruptly resigned after being worn down by a “network of gay priests inside the Vatican who used blackmail to gain influence and trade in state secrets.” Pope Francis has made it clear that one of his top priorities is to “put the Vatican’s house in order.” For metaphor aficionados, Pope Francis is a lightning rod staring into a gathering thundercloud.
4. Jury Selection Under Way in George Zimmerman Trial. The early phases of the trial against George Zimmerman, who has been accused of shooting and killing teen Trayvon Martin, have begun in a Florida courtroom. Attorneys for both sides are busy weeding through possible jurors, testing them for impartiality in light of the extensive and explosive coverage the case has received in the press. As of Wednesday, a total of 75 potential jurors have been dismissed. In a unique move, given the sensitivity of the case, no jurors are being identified by name. For hyperbole aficionados, please tune in to Nancy Grace’s coverage of this case.
5. Whitey Bulger Was No FBI Informant, Defense Insists. Meanwhile, in a courtroom several states north, James “Whitey” Bulger is finally standing trial for dozens of counts of racketeering, extortion, money laundering, and firearms possession, including allegations that he participated in 19 murders. Bulger had fled Massachusetts just before his 1995 indictment, and spent 16 years on the run. Part of the colorful case against Bulger rests on claims he eluded law enforcement by acting as a FBI informant, receiving self-preserving information in return. His lawyer denies that Bulger fed the FBI tips, insisting that Bulger simply paid off corrupt cops. For cliché aficionados, that type of defense is known as “any port in the storm.”
6. That Will Show Him, Maybe. A woman grew so tired of listening to a man brag about his extramarital affair on a train, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She snapped a picture of the man and posted it to Facebook, along with the following note: “If this is your husband, I have endured a 2 hour train ride from Philadelphia listening to this loser and his friends brag about their multiple affairs and how their wives are too stupid to catch on. Oh please repost…” The status update was subsequently reposted 183,000 times. So far, there are no reports that the man has come forward, or that his wife has kicked him to the curb. A thoughtful post on Slate uses the incident as a springboard to discuss the notion of privacy in these social-media heavy times. For alliteration aficionados, one take could be summarized as “dunces don’t deserve the defense of deniability.”
Check back next week for the “6 Things” you need to know right now!
Associate Editor Abby Diaz is a mother, wife and lawyer who shares her opinions and her sarcasm while blogging about current events at What’s Left Over. Hailed by readers as “hilarious,” “insightful” and “related to me,” she is sure to cover a subject that resonates with you. Assuming you care about things like life, entertainment, and/or family. If reading full paragraphs is too much for you, enjoy Abby over at Facebook or Twitter.