‘We Need Whistle-Blowers’

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The United States is trying to extradite Edward Snowden, the former CIA assistant-turned-whistle-blower who outed the National Security Agency’s incredible, Orwellian surveillance dragnets of phone and computing data, from Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, the disgraced Army private who handed WikiLeaks a trove of military communication data in the hope of exposing the hypocrisy of American war-making, is in court-martial proceedings. The government alleges Manning aided terrorists by making classified military information public.

Whatever their stated reasons for taking on the Feds, these two figures operated out of their own inscrutable motives; and we’ll never know the extent of their nobility or guile. The media, and those who consume media, will form widely divergent opinions about whistle-blowers like these two men.

Some will see them as abject criminals who knowingly committed treason against the United States by usurping its laws, even if their goals were honorable. Others will see them as heroes, men who realized that citizens have to act to “prune the tree” of government and that waiting for someone else to act is to grow ever more numb inside the slow boil toward tyranny.

But whoever the whistle-blowers are, and whatever their motives as individuals, consider the words of computer security guru Bruce Schneier: “We need whistle-blowers.”

Writing early Monday, just before Snowden’s identity became known, Schneier said the U.S. government:

…is on a secrecy binge. It overclassifies more information than ever. And we learn, again and again, that our government regularly classifies things not because they need to be secret, but because their release would be embarrassing.

Knowing how the government spies on us is important. Not only because so much of it is illegal — or, to be as charitable as possible, based on novel interpretations of the law — but because we have a right to know. Democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function properly, and transparency and accountability are essential parts of that. That means knowing what our government is doing to us, in our name. That means knowing that the government is operating within the constraints of the law. Otherwise, we’re living in a police state…

…Mark Klein, Thomas Drake, and William Binney have all been persecuted for exposing technical details of our surveillance state. Bradley Manning has been treated cruelly and inhumanly — and possibly tortured — for his more-indiscriminate leaking of State Department secrets.

The Obama Administration’s actions against the Associated Press, its persecution of Julian Assange, and its unprecedented prosecution of Manning on charges of “aiding the enemy” demonstrate how far it’s willing to go to intimidate whistle-blowers — as well as the journalists who talk to them.

But whistle-blowing is vital, even more broadly than in government spying. It’s necessary for good government, and to protect us from abuse of power… Whistle-blowing is the moral response to immoral activity by those in power.

In the end, government whistle-blowing isn’t about the person blowing the whistle; it’s about shining light on the government.

If that light turns out to reveal unConstitutional and extraConstitutional powers and abuses, along with a necessary system of secrets, distortions and lies to cover it up, then be grateful for those courageous enough — or crazy enough — to haul the truth into the public square.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • BrotherPatriot

    Good basic, ROOT level thinking here.

    If we as a society were HONEST to the evidence that’s provided…that History itself has recorded often by whistle-blowers testimony, then one can not help but see the picture of a common Agenda playing out before us. This is indeed what I have been warning of now on most ALL my posts. Its the ROOT level and it touches virtually everything.

    Whistle-blowing is Man’s moral response to Man’s immoral actions. Indeed, whistle-blowers are needed to help maintain an honest government.

    I have been saying that only an informed public can keep its Freedom & Liberty. A public that relies upon its government only for the Truth is in for a rough ride of it as clearly such a Totalitarian State does not benefit the people’s freedoms like the Constitution guarantees.
    God bless and maybe those conspiracy nuts aren’t so off mark after all? (wink)

    • BrotherPatriot

      Oh…I’m not sure about the modifier to the equation of Edward Snowden’s choice of asylum, China.

      Him saying that China isn’t our enemy and that we have trade with one another so everything is ok…isn’t correct. I see China as a major player, a protagonist if “things” escalate in the global theater. I see them being used as a Tool just as is Islam to help accomplish this NWO goal & the destruction of all sovereign countries.

      God Help Us All…and God helps those who help themselves…so get up and ACT! The time is NOW…!!!

      End the Federal Reserve (not federal but privately owned by the secret society of the Illuminati) and abolish the IRS. We must take back our money supply and return to our Judeo-Christian values in God with out the hand of a secret society guiding our destiny’s.

      We the People deserve the Truth and the Truth is that an elected official who has sworn into a secret covenant can not execute unbiased his duties as that representative. Especially when these Oaths of fealty to the secret societies involve death threats. It is simple ROOT level thinking.

      Clearly the actions both of Steward & Manning deserve attention but it should be taken into account that the information is the Simple Truth and it shows government corruption. Perhaps there is a Nullification Factor that can be applied in a legal sense regarding the equation as serving the Constitution is of the Highest Order.

      God Bless & a Hooyah to my fellow Spec War brothers…I’m looking to you to Lead. Step up your game…We the People are waiting as American Exceptionalism is alive and well so get to work!

      • steve

        good idea’s ,but it’s not going to happen. people are so caught up in their daily life that they stay uninformed about current event’s like what the gov is doing. only until people loose eveything they own will they then act. and then it’s too late. it’s a me world now and there is no turn around except what god will be bringing soon to a neighborhood near you . stay awake cause it’s coming. he has promised it and he is perfect so he can’t lie like the government. you should be aware who is really in control. 1john 5;19 says we know we originate from god but we lie within the power of the wicked on. that is satan. he’s the ruler of this system we live in. not obama. you are right when you say we need his help. man is imperfect so there is no solution with him. only hardship’s.

  • Diana

    It shouldn’t be a crime to report criminal government activity.How else would we find out about this?Our corrupt government sure as hell won’t tell us.It’s time to round up the criminals make examples out of them[put in jail],make our government smaller and more control to the people. I’m tiried of this secret crap!

  • Vigilant

    “If that light turns out to reveal unConstitutional and extraConstitutional powers and abuses, along with a necessary system of secrets, distortions and lies to cover it up, then be grateful for those courageous enough — or crazy enough — to haul the truth into the public square.”

    Yes, I agree, but consider at the same time that the totally Constitutional basis for prosecuting these individuals is also a necessity. They have taken upon themselves the accountability of breaking the law, so whether you consider them heroes or goats, they have asked for the martyrdom.

    • Nadzieja Batki

      How is Snowden breaking the law when the law was already broken by the NSA?
      As an aside, Snowden covered his behind quite well before he came forward as in his statements he does not appear as person who has anything to fear.

      • Vigilant

        “How is Snowden breaking the law when the law was already broken by the NSA?”

        Sorry, you’re on the wrong side of the question. Of course he broke the law, and NO ONE says he didn’t. Left, right, Dem or Repub, Conservative or Libertarian, none dispute that he broke the law. He released classified information. That’s against the law no matter how you cut it.

        Whether NSA broke the law is a legal question that has NOT been resolved. Keeping something legal from the public is NOT illegal.

      • Dave

        Nads, the Patriot Act was signed into law. Snowden broke the law and opened up the correct debate we should have had before the conservatives inflicted the Patriot Act upon us. That material was classified and we can debate whether is was related to national security interests or big money interests in this country.

  • Dave

    When the GOP passed the “UN” Patriot Act after 9/11, the foundation was laid for potential abuse. Obama has continued this path. The idea is to compile data to root out potential terrorists. But the ease in which it can be used to go after enemies of the status quo/wealthy is quite disturbing.
    Snowden did a great thing and should be hailed as a hero. The Patriot Act should be removed at once. Conservatives like Bush and the GOP Congress allowed the terrorists to win by giving up on our ideals. Corporatists like Obama have continued to allow the charade to continue. Conservatives and Corporatists need to be voted out. We need to get back to the liberal ideas of freedom, equality and opportunity to be the shining example of what a country can be. Unfortunately we have allowed conservative corportatists to take over this country under the guiese of faux patriotism and the Dem party is mostly the flip side of that same coin.
    Once big money in the political process is stopped, then Gov can become a voice and tool of the people and not just the wealthy and powerful.

    • Derk

      Although, I believe Bush 43 is an honorable man, he is no conservative. Bush, like most politicians, is the establishment. Thankfully we finally have four men in the US Senate that are outsiders fighting the system. The Tea Party put them there. Ronald Reagan would be proud. He also was an outsider fighting the Republican establishment.

      After 33 years as a registered Republican I have finally seen the light. I will no longer vote for the lesser of two evils. I don’t care how rich or powerful someone becomes just leave me the hell alone. The rich and powerful have problems of their own. I don’t buy into the class warfare argument.

      • Dave

        Derk,
        Bush has no honor. He is a conservative and a coward. His bills are paid by Saudi interests and the gas prices you pay now are in large thanks to him and Phil Gramm. Reagan ushered in this new era of corporatism in Gov. Reagan was an actor who’s greatest role is someone pretending to be president. I was a young Republican in the 1980’s and thankfully I wised up after seeing the damage reagan did to this country.

  • 45caliber

    We definately do need them. All this Cain being raised about Snowdon being a traitor is simply a move to make any future whistle blower too afraid to use that whistle.

  • Nadzieja Batki

    Snowden knew what his job was about when he took it so I am a bit suspicious about him developing guilt about the work he was doing.
    I believe surveillance is going to take a more odious turn into snoopiness so this revelation is to gauge what Americans will put up with so they can get around the people and the Constitution

  • DonnaAngelStar

    Award Manning and Snowden the Medal of Freedom.

  • Patriot

    God Bless Snowden, he is a hero.
    To expose the blatant corruption of this administration is in itself noble.
    I only hope that it awakens people from their slumber and alerts them to the evils that are being done to the American people and our Republic.
    We as a Nation have been infiltrated by stealth and deceit. We are in a PRISON STATE. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS scandals, Targeting reporters, oppressing people and thought, media control, collecting emails and phone information of American citizens, Murder, Drug use and prostitution running rampant in our government, etc. CLEAN HOUSE! DEFUND THE United Nations, Get rid of the Federal Reserve and the EPA for starters. Impeach Obama, Indict Holder, Price, Carney, Clapper, Miller, Hillary, AD NAUSIUM down the line. We must TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK! Pray for Edward Snowden, and all those that have the Character and Integrity to stand up and Tell the World the Facts about our government.

    • WTS/JAY

      Every US Agency Probably Wants This Man Dead. So You Should Hear What He Says Before That Happens.

      DISCLOSURE: I don’t own a tin-foil hat. I even give our government the benefit of the doubt when it comes to incompetence. I presume that when someone screws up, it’s not usually an evil secret conspiracy, but rather some clown in an office thinking he’ll get to move up the ladder if he does something that shows incredibly poor judgment and character. However, reporter Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian published a disturbing and eye-opening interview with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden telling us things so beyond the pale that there is no excuse. -Adam Mordecai

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-interview-video?c=upworthy

  • Derk

    Death, disease, poverty, war, power, and genocide have been around since man’s beginning. It is with us today and will be with us until the last human being dies. It is the nature of mankind. The government is spying on us? What a revaluation. Every empire that has existed has failed; we are no exception. The Germans rounded up Jews, Gypsies, and political dissidents. We rounded up Americans of Japanese decent. We imprisoned political dissidents. The government is spying on us? What a revaluation.

    As we drive to work fighting the rat race, rushing home to catch “American Idol”, sleep with our smart phones next to our bedside we have created our own gilded cages. No one knows how to produce food, hunt, fish, or make our own essentials. We ask for permission to hunt and fish the “Kings” forest and pay for the privilege to do so. The government is spying on us? What a revaluation.

    You have the right to vote, but it is who counts the votes that makes the difference. The Law should be the common will of the people, but ask the nimrod texting while walking blindly into the street who the Vice President is and he or she does not have a clue, but they vote…..scary isn’t it?

    People hoard gold, yet it can’t be eaten. People accept a piece of paper as value, and buy crap made in third world cesspools (Smart-Phones), yet they have no more than a weeks worth of food on hand. Who is smarter the person or the phone? When the time comes, and it will, I wouldn’t trade an ounce of my food for a ton of gold. Hunger is funny that way.

    Love, jealousy, hatred, compassion….secrets, and whistle-blowers have been around since man’s beginning. It is with us today and will be
    with us until the last human being dies. It is the nature of mankind.
    The government is spying on us? What a revaluation.

    “Government at its least is a necessary evil at worst it is tyranny” —to paraphrase Thomas Paine—–

    The government is spying on us? What a revaluation. So just how golden is your gilded cage?

    Respectfully,

  • guest

    this is not whistle blowing, they have been spying on us in the name of security for a long time

    another case of divide and conquer

    this is another distraction form someone who wants their 15 minutes of fame

    the problem arises that he chose to whistle blow to our enemies

    afraid of our imperfect justice – i don’t trust it, for sure- he chose what a coward would and ran away but into the arms of our enemy who will debrief him thoroughly and then turn the intel against us

    a hero to American people, a crimnal to the gov, a hero for a different reason to the Chinese and a coward

    here is your 15 minutes of fame, but it is fleeting

  • Ped Xing

    Bradley Manning deserves the Medal of Honor more than the usual baby-killers to whom we pass them out.