Whistleblower’s argument

Edward Snowden was not the first NSA official to sound the alarm. Thomas Drake, winner of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, makes his case to Free Speech Debate.

Thomas Drake argues that as a National Security Agency (NSA) official he took an oath to the US constitution, not to a secrecy agreement (00:20).

This secrecy was narrowly defined as classified information. In 2008 he resigned as his security clearance was suspended and his house was raided by FBI agents (02:00). Drake provided significant amounts of information on the secret surveillance programme known as Stella Wind in the aftermath of 9/11, and revealed corruption and abuse at NSA. He approached someone from the Baltimore Sun in 2006, exercising his freedom of speech, guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US constitution, because he felt the information on wire-tapping was in the public interest (03:45). The secret surveillance practice also went against a superior directive called ThinThread , which provides full protection of the Fourth Amendment rights, and included the prime directive of the NSE since the 1960s – you do not spy on Americans without a warrant. Drake provided this information, which was used in a New York Times article, the publication of which triggered an extraordinary response (05:05). The NSA launched a massive criminal investigation looking for the sources for the article in which he got caught up (05:35).

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  1. I have limited knowledge of this sort of thing; I’m just an ordinary person one could find anywhere. I am not particularly intelligent; I am also a bit of an odd type and eccentric. Perhaps the fact I’m odd and eccentric is the only important bit, so far as this comment goes. I think that a vast number of people don’t really know or care about this sort of issue; maybe they stop and glance at a report in some newspaper and then ‘move on’ and anyway most people believe the authorities are always fundamentally correct in all they do. They have their own lives to live and one way or another this concerns foreigners and strangers; tribalism comes into play in the balance of their thinking. I am the eccentric who does not join in with the group; excited about some silly football game on the TV in some pub, or wherever. I have joined the ‘do gooders’ and my campaigning often brings me to cross paths with the Whistle-blowers and others much sort after by various authorities. I have seen the problems of extreme criminality within the US Admin growing and developing for many years; but 9/11 was the big one, the excuse to do anything and all in the name of national security. Most people in Britain today are firstly very racist and devoutly believe a standard set of beliefs given to them by the press. Anyone who tries to convey any part of the problem tends to be greeted at best with a sneer of incredulity. Basically the people are controlled by the press, but in a complex way. I don’t know all of the secrets of government intelligence agencies; but generically and loosely specking I have known the basics of being spied upon for years. So I cannot understand how people like Edward Snowden could have broken any laws in any serious way. If I knew much about it for years (not fine technical detail) with little brains, no contacts and little money, it was not much of a secret. Others like Bradley Manning had exposed war crimes; and consequently became the subject of such, himself. The current situation in Syria is a quintessential example of why we need to maintain standards of ethics and integrity of government. Without any ethics and standards of decency the dispute within Syria could only descend into a battle to the death; it instantly became the only choice of action for all involved. My final comment is that there’s lot more scandal out there, they missed the real juicy bits; but we should be concerned with why this is so?

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Debate sobre la Libertad de Expresión es un proyecto de investigación del Programa Dahrendorf de Estudios para la Libertad en el St Antony's College de la Universidad de Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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