Leaking and Whistleblowing in the Trump Era

In the Trump Era, Leaking and Whistleblowing Are More Urgent, and More Noble, Than Ever by Glenn Greenwald.

From the post:

For the past 15 years, the U.S. Government under both parties has invented whole new methods for hiding what they do behind an increasingly impenetrable wall of secrecy. From radical new legal doctrines designed to shield their behavior from judicial review to prosecuting sources at record rates, more and more government action has been deliberately hidden from the public.

One of the very few remaining avenues for learning what the U.S. Government is doing – beyond the propaganda that they want Americans to ingest and thus deliberately disseminate through media outlets – is leaking and whistleblowing. Among the leading U.S. heroes in the War on Terror have been the men and women inside various agencies of the U.S. Government who discovered serious wrongdoing being carried out in secret, and then risked their own personal welfare to ensure that the public learned of what never should have been hidden from it in the first place.

Many of the important consequential revelations from the last two administrations were possible only because of courageous sources who came forward in this way. It’s how we learned about the abuses of Abu Ghraib, the existence of torture-fueled CIA “black sites,” the Bush warrantless eavesdropping program, the wanton slaughter carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recklessness and deceit at the heart of the U.S. drone program, the NSA’s secret construction of the largest system of suspicionless, mass surveillance ever created, and so many other scandals, frauds, and war crimes that otherwise would have remained hidden. All of that reporting was possible only because people of conscience decided to disregard the U.S. Government’s corrupt decree that this information should remain secret, on the ground that concealing it was designed to protect not national security but rather the reputations and interests of political officials.

For that reason, when the Intercept was created, enabling safe and productive whistleblowing was central to our mission. We hired some of the world’s most skilled technologists, experts in information security and encryption, to provide maximum security for our journalists and our sources. We adopted the most advanced programs for enabling sources to communicate and provide information to us anonymously and without detection, such as Secure Drop. And we made an institutional commitment to expend whatever resources are necessary to defend the right of a free press to report freely without threats of recrimination, and to do everything possible to protect and defend our sources who enable that vital journalism.

Over the past two years, we have published several articles by our security experts on how sources (and others) can communicate and provide information to us in the safest and most secure manner possible, to minimize the chances of being detected. We’ve published interviews with other experts, such as Edward Snowden, on the most powerful tools and methods available for securing one’s online communications. As our technologist Micah Lee explained, no method is perfect, so “caution is still advised to those who want to communicate with us without exposing their real-world identities,” but tools and practices do exist to maximize anonymity, and we are committed to using those and informing the public about how to use them in the safest and most effective manner possible.

Considering the damage done to the Constitution by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, leaking/whistleblowing in the Trump era is not “more urgent, and more noble….”

That is to say leaking/whistleblowing is always urgent and noble.

Think about the examples Greenwald cites. All are from the Bush and Obama administrations with nary a hint of Trump.

Exposing murder, torture, war crimes, lying to allies, Congress and the American public. And that’s just the short list. The margin of this page isn’t large enough to enumerate all the specific crimes committed by both administrations.

By all means, let’s encourage leaking and whistleblowing in the Trump era, but don’t leak timidly.

Government officials, staffers, contractors and their agents (double or otherwise), have freely chosen to participate in activities hidden from the public. Hidden because they are ashamed of what they have done (think CIA torturers) and/or fear just prosecution for their crimes (waging wars of aggression).

Leak boldly, insist on naming all names and all actions being described.

Secrecy hasn’t prevented excesses in secret, perhaps severe and repeated consequences from bold leaks will.

Leak early, often and in full.

PS: We should not rely exclusively on insiders to leak information.

Hackers have an important role to play in creating government transparency, with or without the government’s consent.

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