Culture

A Whistle-Blower’s Troubling Tale

'The Fed Who Blew the Whistle': Readers were concerned about whistle-blower Thomas Tamm's fate. One wondered why "few in the Justice Department were as troubled as Tamm about the illegality of the secret domestic wiretapping program or had the courage of his convictions." Nearly all labeled Tamm a hero. "Whistle-blowers like him are heroes because they are protecting 'We the people'," one wrote. Another suggested that President-elect Obama acknowledge Tamm's courage and service by "issuing him a pardon."

On 'Southern Comfort: What Detroit Got Wrong': "My future vehicle purchase will likely be a foreign brand made in the South. Supporting my area's economy and fellow workers takes precedence over misguided loyalty to companies who demand my tax money to bail them out of bad decisions."
Ernest Wade
Loganville, Ga.

He Chose to Speak Up
I am appalled that Thomas Tamm, the Department of Justice whistle-blower who disclosed the Bush administration's illegal domestic wiretapping program, is being harassed and persecuted by the FBI for his part in disclosing the coverup of a program that originated in the Oval Office ("The Fed Who Blew the Whistle," Dec. 22). Tamm is a national hero who had the guts to do what he thought was right and wasn't intimidated by the power of the presidency. He is on a par with Deep Throat, among others. The first thing President-elect Obama should do after taking office is to pardon him, then direct Attorney General–designate Eric Holder to offer him his job back and instruct the DOJ to seek indictments against those involved in authorizing and carrying out the illegal program, including President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Their actions in undermining and circumventing the protections of the First and Fourth amendments are perhaps the most egregious attempts to consolidate absolute power within the executive branch since the dark days of Richard Nixon.
Harvey Jay Goldstein
Milwaukee, Wis.

Your cover story on Thomas Tamm illustrates the best and worst in our society. I am a veteran of World War II who lost a high-school buddy in Belgium. Like so many others, we were fighting for the very things Tamm was willing to risk everything for. It is disgusting that this man is on the run when he should be receiving a medal for his actions. I am sure the majority of Americans fully support him.
Leonard Kliff
Lincolnshire, Ill.

I commend NEWSWEEK for highlighting the example of a common man doing his job—upholding the Constitution of the United States and the rule of law. This administration has repeatedly held itself above the law and lived for the ends justifying whatever means it took to get there. In the wake of such political bullying, there are many who kept silent. Thank God for people like Thomas Tamm who spoke when no one else was finding a voice. How ironic that the FBI sent an agent named Lawless to try to crush Tamm's courage. This nation is made up of people like Tamm, and that is our strength.
Rev. Joseph Clark
Washington Grove, Md.

No one who attended Landon School in Bethesda, Md., in the late 1960s, as I did, will be at all surprised to learn that Tom Tamm ended up risking it all to do the right thing. In his senior year, for instance, Tom, then the president of the student council, decided to turn himself in to the rest of the council for some minor infraction unknown to anyone else (and ultimately warranting no punishment). It showed the same character and a burgeoning morality that years later would compel him to do what he did.
Peter Craig
Chevy Chase, Md.

So let me get this straight: Thomas Tamm decided not to follow established procedure but instead disclosed confidential information to the press, close to a presidential election. And you try to justify his actions? The guy is guilty. The end does not justify the means—not for Thomas Tamm, and not for the FBI, which was conducting illegal wiretaps. I feel sorry for his family, but he should go to prison.
Bob Spickelmier
Meadowlakes, Texas

When the government secretly breaks the law, dupes judges and violates the Fourth Amendment, what do you call Thomas Tamm? Whistle-blower. Hero. Courageous patriot. Defender of the Constitution and the rule of law. I am contributing to attorney Tamm's legal-defense fund.
Cynara Stites
Mansfield, Conn.

An Informal Poll
In "Don't Ask Too Fast" (Jan. 12), Dan Ephron cites a so-called poll conducted by the Military Times. The newspaper admits that its poll abandons professional polling standards. It surveyed only subscribers to its newspaper via e-mail. "The voluntary nature of the survey, the dependence on e-mail and the characteristics of Military Times readers could affect the results," the paper noted. Yet, strangely, Ephron failed to mention these significant caveats and instead unambiguously left the impression the poll is a legitimate measure of public opinion of the military. It is not. The poll is wildly unscientific and thus unusable in a journalistically respected news outlet such as NEWSWEEK.
Aubrey Sarvis
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Washington, D.C.

Correction
In the Dec. 29/Jan. 5 profile of John Lasseter ("The Global Elite"), we stated incorrectly that "Wall-E" and "Bolt" were produced by Pixar studios. In fact, "Wall-E" was produced by Pixar and "Bolt" by Disney Animation Studios, both of which are owned by the Walt Disney Co. Lasseter is chief creative officer at both studios. The forthcoming film "The Princess and the Frog" will be released by Disney Animation Studios, not Pixar. Also, "Wall-E" and "Bolt" received Golden Globe nominations for best animated feature film, not for best picture. NEWSWEEK regrets the errors.

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