NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake at the University of the District of Columbia


“We are seeing an unprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and truth-tellers: it’s now criminal to expose the crimes of the state,” writes Thomas Drake in The Guardian.  Drake and I spoke at the University of the District of Columbia Law School on March 22, as part of the Government Accountability Project’s American Whistleblower Tour. Drake discussed his experience at the National Security Agency during 2001-2007 and the Justice Department’s subsequent effort to prosecute him. A new one-hour edited video taken from the event:

Climate Science Watch is a program of the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization. Additional information and videos from Whistleblower Tour events here.

Also see: Statement by the Government Accountability Project on Edward Snowden and National Security Agency Domestic Surveillance

Thomas Drake in The Guardian, June 12 (excerpt):

Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution

So we refused to be part of the NSA’s dark blanket. That is why whistleblowers pay the price for being the backstop of democracy

… The NSA programs that Snowden has revealed are nothing new: they date back to the days and weeks after 9/11. I had direct exposure to similar programs, such as Stellar Wind, in 2001. … It was made clear to me that the original intent of government was to gain access to all the information it could without regard for constitutional safeguards. …

The difference between what the Bush administration was doing in 2001, right after 9/11, and what the Obama administration is doing today is that the system is now under the cover and color of law. Yet, what Snowden has revealed is still the tip of the iceberg.

I differed as a whistleblower to Snowden only in this respect: in accordance with the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, I took my concerns up within the chain of command, to the very highest levels at the NSA, and then to Congress and the Department of Defense. I understand why Snowden has taken his course of action, because he’s been following this for years: he’s seen what’s happened to other whistleblowers like me. …

The NSA is wiring the world; they want to own internet. I didn’t want to be part of the dark blanket that covers the world, and Edward Snowden didn’t either.

We are seeing an unprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and truth-tellers: it’s now criminal to expose the crimes of the state. …

Also see:

Thomas Drake NSA whistleblower victory: government’s case implodes

Thomas Drake: 2011 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling

Thomas Tamm: 2009 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling

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3 Responses to NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake at the University of the District of Columbia

  1. Frank R Nelson says:

    The people ramrodding our gov’t are a gang of corrupt scoundrels. We need to clean ’em out, all of them, bag and baggage!

  2. Peter Vanden Bosch says:

    I admire Mr Drake for his principled actions, but his statements here just aren’t credible. His actions differed substantially from those of Snowden, in that
    1. Drake didn’t break the law, in my opinion. At the very least, he worked very hard to avoid leaking classified. Snowden took a vastly different tack, stealing documents and sharing them with the press and (inadvertently, wink-wink) with China and Russia.
    2. Drake made every effort to press his concerns upward and to various oversight functions. Snowden did no such thing.
    3. Drake was senior and had a very wide understanding of how what he was doing fit into the overall NSA mission. Snowden was a junior computer guy with no read-in to programs that might make a difference to his decisions — such as what might kill someone or put the nation at further risk.
    4. Drake focused his concern on a single issue; Snowden stole 200+ documents to use as party favors.
    These differences together constitute the difference between a principled dissenter and a criminal. To call Snowden a whistleblower, in fact, does discredit to what Drake himself achieved.

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