Whistleblowers: good humans, bad citizens


The only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" -  Edmund Burke

What moral crisis would it take to make you want to give everything up in order to expose the truth? 

Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ”I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal." Dr. King’s definition of betrayal contrasts sharply with what is perhaps the US government ‘s most pernicious charge against Bradley Manning: that of “aiding the enemy”. Manning exposed information that is of great public interest. In this case, it is important to ask: exactly who does the government consider to be “the enemy”? Could it be that “the enemy” under the present establishment is the public itself? As Daniel Ellsberg himself notes, there hasn’t been such an important leak of information since the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which, according to the New York Times "demonstrated, among other things, that the Lyndon Baines Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance". In a democratic society, it is necessary for the public to be informed in order to give consent to the means by which it is governed. As Edward Snowden put it “consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed”. Whistleblowers, such as Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden, would have betrayed not only their own morals, but also the unsuspecting public’s if they would have remained silent about the abuses they witnessed. 

A whistleblower is a person who exposes misconduct and/or alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. But whistleblowers are more than that. They are brave men and women who have put their jobs and their entire lives on the line to stand up for what they believe is right. Unfortunately, despite their selfless actions, they are stigmatized by the establishment because the information they reveal often threatens large corporations and governments. In a world where the flow of information is increasingly controlled by powerful institutions, it is imperative that we understand the historical importance of whistleblowers, how we can support them, and how we can encourage others to follow their own moral compass. Below are excerpts and links about only a handful of the most high-profile whistleblowers relevant today. 

Edward Snowden

The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change” -Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden interview with Glenn Greenwald. Copyright © 2013 Praxis Films / Laura Poitras

"Snowden is a former CIA agent and contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) who leaked information for top secret US and British mass surveillance programs to the press, including details about PRISM, Boundless Informant, and the NSA call database." [1] This is one of the most significant leaks in NSA history and one whose repercussions and historical significance are still unfolding.  

Bradley Manning

When the persecution of an individual who has exposed an evil is pursued so ruthlessly and yet the evil itself is studiedly ignored, all of us know that there is something very wrong with the way that our society is conducting itself. And if we do not protest in the strongest terms about what is being done in our name, then we… become complicit.” - Alan Moore

Celebrities lend voices to say "I am Bradley Manning". A film by the Bradley Manning Support Network.

"Between November 2009 and May 2010 Manning downloaded massive files, stored in secure US intelligence databases, from his computer at an army operating base in Iraq, where he was working as an intelligence analyst. He then transmitted the files to an encrypted whistleblower channel set up by WikiLeaks. These files included “videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan; 250,000 United States diplomatic cables; and 500,000 army reports that came to be known as the Iraq War logs and Afghan War logs. It was the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public” [2].

Sibel Edmonds

The only people I have seen who have been truly pushing for the truth are the family members." - Sibel Edmonds

Abby Martin talks to Sibel Edmonds, about her story as a whistleblower and the erosion of civil liberties in a post 9/11 America.

"Sibel Deniz Edmonds is a Turkish-American former Federal Bureau of Investigationtranslator and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC).

On 1 February 2011, Edmonds published a story on her own website, adding details of events she described as taking place in April 2001. The account centered around her post-9/11 role as translator of a pre-9/11 interview during which an informant had told the FBI agents:

"Bin Laden’s group is planning a massive terrorist attack in the United States. The order has been issued. They are targeting major cities, big metropolitan cities; they think four or five cities; New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, and San Francisco; possibly Los Angeles or Las Vegas. They will use airplanes to carry out the attacks. They said that some of the individuals involved in carrying this out are already in the United States. They are here in the U.S.; living among us, and I believe some in US government already know about all of this."

The agents, along with Edmonds, reported this information internally at the FBI but, according to Edmonds, no one at the bureau ever asked for follow-ups or further information prior to 9/11.

Edmonds would escalate her complaints to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. In response, she claims that managers retaliated against her, and she was finally fired on March 22, 2002

In June 2009 interviewed by

Brad Friedman

on the

The Mike Malloy Show

, Edmonds has stated : "I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban - those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11"[3]. 

Daniel Ellsberg

If monarchy is corrupting - and it is - wait till you see what overt empire does to us" - Daniel Ellsberg
Daniel Ellsberg speaks on behalf of Bradley Manning. A short film by Skylight Media Film and Courage to Resist

"Daniel Ellsberg is a former 

United States military

 analyst who, while employed by the 

RAND Corporation

, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released to the press the 

Pentagon Papers

, a top-secret 


 study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the 

Vietnam War


The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers "demonstrated, among other things, that

the Lyndon Baines Johnson

Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance...The Papers revealed that the U.S. had expanded its war with bombing of




, coastal raids on

North Vietnam

, and

Marine Corps

attacks, none of which had been reported by media in the US. The most damaging revelations in the papers revealed that four administrations, from Truman to Johnson, had misled the public regarding their intentions “ [5].

John Kiriakou

Even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated -- not in one case or a thousand or a million. If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable. I may have found myself on the wrong side of government on torture. But I’m on the right side of history. … There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security. One of them, I now firmly believe, is torture.” - John Kiriaku

CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou begins jail sentence, RT report

"On December 10, 2007, Kiriakou gave an interview to ABC News where he was described as participating in the capture and questioning of Abu Zubaydah, who is accused of having been an aide to Osama Bin Laden. Eventually it became known that Abu Zubaydah had in fact been waterboarded at least 83 times, and that little or no useful extra information may have been gained by "harsh methods". However, even when Kiriakou was under the mistaken belief from the CIA that Zubayda was waterboarded only once, he acknowledged that even the relatively mild single instance of waterboarding he described constituted a form of torture and expressed reservations about whether the value of the information was worth the damage done to the United States' reputation" [6].

Julian Assange

We released 400,000 classified documents, the most extraordinary history of a war to ever have been released in our civilization. Those documents cover 109,000 deaths. That is serious matter." -Julian Assange

WikiRebels: The Documentary by Jesper HuorBosse Lindquist

Australian editor, activist, publisher and journalist. He is best known as the editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, which publishes submissions of secret information, news leaks and classified media from anonymous news sources and whistleblowers

WikiLeaks became internationally well known in 2010 when it began to publish U.S. military and diplomatic documents with assistance from its partners in the news media.  Bradley Manning has since been arrested on suspicion of supplying the cables to WikiLeaks.  U.S. Air Force documents reportedly state that military personnel who make contact with WikiLeaks or "WikiLeaks supporters" are at risk of being charged with "communicating with the enemy", and the United States Department of Justice reportedly has considered prosecuting Assange for several offenses" [7].

Assange is currently under the protection of the Ecuadorean embassy. The Ecuadorean government has found that Mr. Assange has justified in his application and through additional material that he has a well-founded fear of political persecution, and risks torture or the death penalty in the United States in connection with the publication of truthful information of matters of interest to the public through his work with WikiLeaks. 

In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

On July 4th, hundreds of cities and more than 30,000 websites are protesting NSA spying. Please JOIN THE PROTEST and SHOW YOUR SUPPORT. In solidarity with the largest online protest since SOPA, I leave you with The Juice Media's latest production: "Whistleblower", which I am sure you will agree is particularly poignant on the issue.

Dont miss "Edward Snowden" singing about the NSA leaks in the style of "Informer" by Snow. Brilliant!

Further Resources:

Resources by the National Whistleblowers Center

National Security Whistleblowers Coalition

Government Accountability Project

International Organizations


  1. Wikipedia contributors. "Daniel Ellsberg." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Jun. 2013. Web. 4 Jul. 2013.
  2. Wikipedia contributors. "Bradley Manning." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Jul. 2013. Web. 4 Jul. 2013.
  3. Wikipedia contributors. "Sibel Edmonds." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Jul. 2013. Web. 4 Jul. 2013.
  4. Wikipedia contributors. "The Pentagon Papers." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Oct. 2008. Web. 4 Jul. 2013.
  5. Wikipedia contributors. "Daniel Ellsberg." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Jun. 2013. Web. 4 Jul. 2013
  6. Wikipedia contributors. "John Kiriakou." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Jul. 2013. Web. 4 Jul. 2013.
  7. Wikipedia contributors. "Julian Assange." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Jul. 2013. Web. 4 Jul. 2013