Whistle-Blower, Beware

Today’s New York Times has an op-ed on Edward Snowden’s disclosure that “the National Security Agency was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans.” The author, Mark Hertsgaard, shows that Snowden’s decision was shaped by the experience of Thomas Drake, “a senior N.S.A. official who had also complained, 12 years earlier, about warrantless surveillance.”

Drake’s house was raided by the F.B.I., and he “was forced to resign and was indicted on 10 felony charges arising from an alleged ‘scheme’ to improperly ‘retain and disclose classified information.'”

Snowden “followed the Drake case closely in the news media” and told Al Jazeera, “If there hadn’t been a Thomas Drake, there couldn’t have been an Edward Snowden.”

Hertsgaard opines that Drake’s case convinced Snowden that he

had only two real options: remain silent, or break the law by leaking documents to the press in hopes that would bring scrutiny to the N.S.A.’s surveillance activities.

Were those truly the only options available to Snowden? I’m doubtful. What do you think?

Ken Pimple
May 26, 2016
3:30 pm EST

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Ken Pimple

About Ken Pimple

I've been involved in the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics before its actual creation. I am coordinating the international conversation on the future of practical and professional ethics for APPE, and organizing five workshops that will be held at Indiana University in Bloomington in academic year 2014-15.

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