Unit: Technology, Politics, & Ethics
• People who expose wrongdoing in government
• May investigate issues or practices as outsiders or
operate from within as employees.
• External Ex: Upton Sinclair.
• His early 20th cent. novel The Jungle exposed some
of the filthy conditions and practices of the
• External Ex 2: Rachel Carson
• Her 1960s book Silent Spring presented the
dangerous side effects of the pesticide DDT.
• Internal: insiders who work for a
government agency or a corporation
and have access to its secrets who then
reveal those secrets to a journalist
• Ex: Jeffrey Wiggand
• On February 4, 1996 he appeared on the
60 Minutes and stated that Brown &
Williamson had intentionally manipulated
its tobacco blend to increase the
amount of nicotine in cigarette smoke
• Daniel Ellsberg worked for Secretary of
Defense Robert McNamara in 1964 during the
• McNamara created a team of researchers to
write what he called the Pentagon Papers, a
7,000-page history of the nation’s involvement
in Vietnam from 1940 to the present, which
was classified as top secret.
• Ellsberg received a copy in 1969 and realizing
that the government had been deliberately
misleading the public about, Ellsberg copied
all 7,000 pages and gave them to the New
• Large excerpts were printed in 1971.
• Fully aware he might have to face criminal charges,
Ellsberg said he “could no longer cooperate in
concealing this information from the American
• President Richard Nixon called his actions “criminally
traitorous,” and Ellsberg was arrested and charged
with theft and espionage.
• The government, seeking to discredit
Ellsberg, broke into his psychiatrist’s office
and stole his records.
• When this information became public, the
judge declared a mistrial because of illegal
acts by the government and Ellsberg was
• Mark Felt was a senior FBI official in 1972 when
burglars broke into the headquarters of the DNC at
the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC.
• The thieves were caught installing bugging
equipment, and were revealed to be connected to
Republicans associated with the Committee to Re-
Elect the President (Nixon).
• At first there was not enough evidence to connect
the break-in to the Nixon administration until two
investigative reporters from The Washington Post,
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, started meeting
secretly with Felt, who at the time they referred to
only as Deep Throat.
• Deep Throat had access to info the administration
would not allow to be released, so he spoke to the
reporters only on the condition that he never be
• It was not until 2005 that Felt allowed himself to be
revealed as the source.
• Felt’s actions contributed directly to the resignation
of Nixon in 1974, since Felt provided information
about the cover-up that led Woodward and
Bernstein directly to the office of the president
Investigation of 9/11
• Thomas Drake was an agent working for the National Security
Agency (NSA) when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred.
• Drake discovered that the NSA was secretly wiretapping the
phones of U.S. citizens without a warrant, which is
• Although he brought up his concerns to his superiors, they told
him not to worry about it.
• Drake began secretly supplying a reporter from The Baltimore
Sun with inside information.
• When exposed, he was charged with espionage and faced
thirty-five years in prison.
• He fought the charges, and ultimately the government
• He was found guilty only of misusing his employer’s computer.
• The US government has attempted to create
certain legal protections for whistleblowers while
also recognizing the need to safeguard classified
information and respect corporations’ rights to
protect trade secrets.
• In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a ban
on federal employees making any disclosures to
Congress without permission
• In 1912, Congress passed the Lloyd-LaFollette Act.
• The act permitted employees to provide
information to members of Congress
• More recently, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1997
protects federal employees who bring to light any
apparent wrongdoing and prohibits retaliation for doing
• The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer
Protection Act of 2010 instituted financial regulations
following the near-collapse of the banking system in
• The law “requires the [Securities and Exchange]
Commission to pay an award … to eligible
whistleblowers who voluntarily provide the Commission
with original information about a violation …that leads to
the successful enforcement of a covered judicial or
• The law, which is available online at whistleblowers.org,
also prohibits companies from attempting to punish
• Founded by Julian Assange , an Australian with a long
history as a computer hacker.
• Early in his career, he was known for his strong
convictions against corporate and government secrecy
• Servers are based in Sweden, but volunteers working for
the organization come from a number of countries.
• Readers of WikiLeaks are free to view primary
documents and arrive at their own conclusions based on
the info presented.
• Assange and other editors do provide their own
commentary t explain jargon, technical information, and
• It also provides news organizations with leaked doc
weeks in advance of their release on WikiLeaks to allow
journalists a chance to perform research and identify
significant pieces of information.
• Gained international attention in April 2010 when it released
video footage of a controversial incident from the war in
• On July 12, 2007, two journalists from Reuters and an
unknown number of Iraqi civilians were killed when two U.S.
helicopters fired on a group of suspected insurgents in the
district of New Baghdad.
• They then destroyed a nearby building with the missile strikes.
• WikiLeaks received an encrypted copy of video footage
from a camera on one of the Apache helicopters.
• The video showed that U.S. soldiers mistakenly identified a
wounded journalist and unarmed civilians as enemy
combatants and shot them.
WikiLeaks’ Released Docs on
Iraq & Afghanistan Wars
• In 2010, they also posted more than 91,000 documents
related to Afghanistan, known as Afghan War Diary (or AWD).
• Featured classified reports related to various missions and
actions including civilian casualties, “friendly fire” casualties,
and candid assessments of Afghan and Pakistani leaders.
• A few months later, they released 400,000 classified U.S.
documents related to the war in Iraq.
• Considered the largest leak of classified material in U.S. history.
• Though most the information was previously known, surprise
• Cases of abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees by Iraqi security
• tracking of civilian casualties, though officials had publicly
denied keeping count.
• Both The New York Times and The Guardian published large
stories featuring the Wiki docs
Source: Bradley Manning
• U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning was arrested
shortly after the docs were released.
• In 2012, Manning said that he would plead guilty to
some of the charges filed against him, which include
failure to obey a lawful order, transmitting classified
national defense information to someone not
authorized to receive it, stealing government
property, and aiding the enemy—the latter of which
carries a life sentence.
• In August 2013, Manning was sentenced to
35 yerars in prison, though he was not found
guilty of aiding the enemy
State Department Leaks• Then, tens of thousands of sensitive State Department cables
and other diplomatic docs were published by some news
providers to whom WikiLeaks gave an advance look.
• Many of the docs contained unflattering assessments of world
leaders made by U.S. diplomats.
• Another doc revealed that Yemeni officials agreed to cover
up the fact that the U.S. military has made multiple strikes on
terrorist targets in Yemen by claiming responsibility for the
• At this time, a hacker group calling themselves “the Jester”
shut down the WikiLeaks site
• Most corporation (Paypal, MasterCard, and Visa) cut off
• The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay,
expressed concern that Assange’s right to free expression was
being violated through an effort to shut down WikiLeaks
• Computer specialist contractor for the NSA
who leaked thousands of files to The
Guardian and The Washington Post
• Most of the files dealt with the NSA’s surveillance
programs of both foreign officials and domestic
surveillance of meta-data.
• Snowden fled to Hong Kong prior to the release of
the files and then flew to Russia where he hoped
to make it to Ecuador.
• His passport was revoked, but Russia gave him
temporary asylum where he continues to reside.
• Reporters who were supplied with files continue to
publish articles on the surveillance information
• Assange surrendered to British authorities carrying
out a Swedish arrest warrant.
• Two Swedish women accused Assange of sexual
• He has repeatedly denied the accusations,
claiming that they are part of a smear campaign
• In June 2012, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian
embassy in London
• WikiLeaks continued their work in 2011releasing
docs about Guantanamo Bay, detainees in Iraq
camps, and millions of e-mails from Syrian
• Main criticism = reveals info that damages the ability of
nations to protect their own interests as well as their citizens.
• For ex, Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King,
has accused WikiLeaks of being a terrorist organization since it
encourages acts of espionage.
• Countries condemning WikiLeaks include Iran and China, both
known for censorship, to nations famous for free-speech
protection, such as the United States and France.
• Even those groups who appreciate their intent worry about
the lack of editorial analysis.
• They argue WikiLeaks in unlike investigative reporting of the
past that carefully scrutinized the info and created a story
• For ex, Amnesty Intl condemned WikiLeaks for releasing the
names of Afghanis who worked as informants for the US
• Main praise = expose corruption and human rights
• Assange has maintained that he does not know of
a single case where info published on WikiLeaks was
responsible for an individual being harmed.
• Many supporters argue that WikiLeaks acts as a
means for investigative reporting so it should have
the same protections
• Supporters include Republican Congressman Ron
Paul, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, andRussian
president Dmitry Medvedev and political activist
• Originally passed in 1917, amended in 1918, and revised
• One section criminalizes the disclosure of four very specific
types of classified information, primarily relating to the
government's cryptographic systems and communication
• This section makes it a crime to "knowingly and willfully
communicate, furnish, transmit, … to an unauthorized
person, or publish, or use," the information "in any manner
prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or
for the benefit of any foreign government”
• However, some argue much of this law is outdated
• Digital technology and the Internet have significantly
blurred, if not entirely erased, the lines between
"communicating," "publishing," and "using" information.
Intent• Intent is often the main issue in Espionage Act prosecutions.
• During World War II, FDR wanted to prosecute the Chicago
Tribune for its 1942 story about a detailed Japanese plan of
attack at sea.
• It turned out the reporter might not have known the info was
based on broken Japanese codes, so there was no guilty
• Likewise, the intent requirement ended the prosecution of two
lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
• They'd been charged in 2005 under the Espionage Act for
receiving and disclosing info about Iran's nuclear program.
• In 2009, prosecutors dropped the charges, citing the "intent
requirements." The defendants wanted to broaden awareness
of Iran's threat to harm the U.S.
• In contrast, opponents argue Mr. Assange has a willful mind on
all the counts of the Espionage Act.
• Crovitz, Gordon. "The Intention of Leakers and Publishers
Determines Their Acts' Criminality." Espionage and Intelligence.
Ed. Sylvia Engdahl. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Current
Controversies. Rpt. from "Wikileaks and the Espionage Act." Wall
Street Journal 25 Apr. 2011. Opposing Viewpoints In Context.
Web. 26 Mar. 2013.
• Lowell, Abbe David. "The Espionage Act Is Unclear, Outdated,
and in Need of Revision." Espionage and Intelligence. Ed. Sylvia
Engdahl. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Current Controversies.
Rpt. from "Testimony." House Committee on the Judiciary, 2010.
Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.
• "Whistleblowers." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit:
Gale, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.
• "WikiLeaks." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale,
2012. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.
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