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Edward Snowden Explains Why The Government Needs Control

In a recent article penned for The Guardian, Edward Snowden talks about the life of a whistleblower. When he first met Dan Ellsberg, Ellsberg said: "I've been waiting 40 years for someone like you." In 1971, Ellsberg gave the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other newspapers.

Snowden also shares his experience witnessing others citizens breaking their silence with documents: Chelsea Manning gave the Iraq and Afghan war logs and the Cablegate materials to WikiLeaks in 2010. Snowden came forward in 2013. Now, Jeremy Scahill and the staff of the Intercept has made available a set of documents published in The Assassination Complex. Snowden writes:

"We are witnessing a compression of the timeframe in which unconstitutional activities can continue before they are exposed by acts of conscience. And this permits the American people to learn about critical government actions, not as part of the historical record but in a way that allows direct action through voting – in other words, in a way that empowers an informed citizenry to defend the democracy that “state secrets” are nominally intended to support."

He continues to write:

"A single act of whistleblowing doesn’t change the reality that there are significant portions of the government that operate below the waterline, beneath the visibility of the public. Those secret activities will continue, despite reforms."

In addition, Snowden explains why some leaks are permissible by stating:

"The answer is control. A leak is acceptable if it is not seen as a threat, as a challenge to the prerogatives of the institution. But if all the disparate components of the institution – not just its head but its hands and feet, every part of its body – must be assumed to have the same power to discuss matters of concern, that is an existential threat to the modern political monopoly of information control, particularly if we’re talking about disclosures of serious wrongdoing, fraudulent activity, unlawful activities."

He adds, "Truly unauthorised disclosures are necessarily an act of resistance – that is, if they’re not done simply for press consumption, to fluff up the public appearance or reputation of an institution. However, that doesn’t mean they all come from the lowest working level."

Snowden also wants potential whistleblowers to ask themselves this question, “Do you honestly believe that you have the capability to remediate the problem, to influence policy?”

He discourages them from revealing classified information if they don't believe they would be effective in doing so. He adds, "What it really comes down to is the reality that we have a political class that feels it must inoculate itself against allegations of weakness." He also states that, "The whistleblower raises the alarm and lifts the lamp, inheriting the legacy of a line of Americans that begins with Paul Revere."

Photo: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheWikiLeaksChannel

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