Edward Snowden may be living in exile, evading prosecution for leaking secrets about the NSA’s surveillance program in 2013. But he hasn’t gone away, and continues to speak out about this issue in everything from techno songs to a secret interview with John Oliver. Now Snowden is speaking out against U.S. government claims that he could’ve raised concerns about the NSA’s operations without leaking the information in the press. He says that what happened to a whistleblower in 2002 belies that.
According to The Guardian, Snowden is pointing to recent information from a former Pentagon investigator about how the institution turned against another whistleblower named Thomas Drake, when sensitive information about the NSA surveillance program leaked to the media. He says that this incident, which happened before Snowden became a whistleblower himself, shows that he had no other choice in how he went about revealing government secrets, contrary to what President Obama and other government officials say.
Former senior Pentagon investigator John Crane says that Thomas Drake blew the whistle on a mass-data analysis tool within in the NSA that was performing poorly. At first, Pentagon investigators helped Drake gather documentation about the tool, but when the NSA’s wiretapping program came to light as part of the investigation, and then leaked in the New York Times, Crane says that he suspected that Pentagon officials gave Drake’s name to the FBI, and then improperly destroyed evidence that would have helped Drake’s case.
Charges were finally dropped against Drake in 2011, but to Snowden, what happened here is clear evidence of how much retaliation is involved in government whistleblowing. He therefore calls for “iron-clad, enforceable protections for whistleblowers,” as well as for Congress to officially recognize when a whistleblower’s contributions lead to a successful change in policy. This would incentivize people to actually speak up when a government agency is breaking the law, Snowden says, rather than keeping silent or being forced to go to the media as he chose to do.
(via The Guardian)