Ex-CIA, NSA, FBI, and GCHQ Employees Urge Former Colleagues to Blow the Whistle

Daniel Ellsberg and other former leakers plead for current staffers to follow Edward Snowden's example.
Katerha/Flickr

An open letter published in The Guardian features seven signatories—including Daniel Ellsberg, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, as well as ex-employees of the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and GCHQ—urging their former colleagues to follow Edward Snowden's example and blow the whistle on ongoing crimes and misconduct within the national-security state.

One portion of the letter says:

Hidden away in offices of various government departments, intelligence agencies, police forces and armed forces are dozens and dozens of people who are very much upset by what our societies are turning into: at the very least, turnkey tyrannies.

One of them is you.

You're thinking:

  • Undermining democracy and eroding civil liberties isn't put explicitly in your job contract.
  • You grew up in a democratic society and want to keep it that way
  • You were taught to respect ordinary people's right to live a life in privacy
  • You don't really want a system of institutionalized strategic surveillance that would make the dreaded Stasi green with envy—do you?

Still, why bother? What can one person do? Well, Edward Snowden just showed you what one person can do. He stands out as a whistleblower both because of the severity of the crimes and misconduct that he is divulging to the public—and the sheer amount of evidence he has presented us with so far—more is coming. But Snowden shouldn't have to stand alone, and his revelations shouldn't be the only ones.

You can be part of the solution; provide trustworthy journalists—either from old media (like this newspaper) or from new media (such as WikiLeaks) with documents that prove what illegal, immoral, wasteful activites are going on where you work.

There IS strength in numbers. You won't be the first—nor the last—to follow your conscience and let us know what's being done in our names. Truth is coming—it can't be stopped. Crooked politicians will be held accountable. It's in your hands to be on the right side of history and accelerate the process.

Courage is contagious.

The letter is certain to infuriate establishment national-security thinkers who regard leaks as betrayals of trust that undermine America's safety. President Obama has been zealous about prosecuting whistleblowers, as well as implementing steps within federal agencies to prevent unauthorized leaks from occurring.  

The full letter is here.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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