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Opposition To Leakers Government Whistleblowers Expose Classified Information

936 words - 4 pages

Are government whistleblowers acting in the public interest, or do they endanger the public by exposing classified information? Just as government transparency has waned in recent years, there have been several instances of very public national intelligence whistle-blowing. Large scale leaks such as those published by The Guardian and WikiLeaks have prompted debate on issues of government secrecy, as well as the balance between security and liberty. High profile whistleblowers like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden have, at great personal risk, leaked classified information to the public in the interest of transparency. Leaked media and documents range from embarrassing, to ...view middle of the document...

In 2005, former NSA executive Thomas Drake, after first attempting to go through official channels, leaked information to reporters about an illegal wiretapping operation by the NSA under the Bush administration (Wise). New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau were awarded the Pulitzer Prize; Drake was indicted under the espionage act (Wise). The NSA came under scrutiny again in 2013 when Edward Snowden revealed large scale data collection and surveillance programs.
As history can attest, government whistleblowers act honorably for the greater good despite threat of prosecution. Government transparency, especially in acts of war, is important to a functioning democracy. J. William Leonard, former US classifications czar, In the documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, illustrates, “To have those types of decisions, those types of deliberations, done in secrecy is a tremendous disservice to the American people – because these are things being done in their name – so, whether you agree with them or not, to have a free back-and-forth airing of these is essential”. In support of these concepts, those behind WikiLeaks and other government leaks have taken great risks. Birgitta Jonsdottir, member of WikiLeaks and Icelandic parliament, stated, “We were working on something that we knew that could get us into serious trouble and we were all willing to take that consequence” (“We Steal Secrets”). In We Steal Secrets, instant messages between Bradley Manning and the man who eventually turned him in, hacker Adriam Lamo, reveal his awareness of the risk as well as his intentions: to reveal “awful things, things that belonged in the public domain” (“We Steal Secrets”). Ultimately, those with strong impulse to expose the truth will not be swayed by the threat of prosecution.
With each additional publicized leak, it becomes clear that benefit of exposing corruption outweighs the potential for harm from enemies...

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