A brief history of major whistle-blowers tells us they come in threes

Pete_Ryan__Nuclear_WhistleblowersThe old saying, “A good indication of future behavior lies in past behavior”, seems to be applicable in the recent rash of “whistle-blowing” instances that have rocked the U.S. Government and its Security Agencies. The United States is no stranger to highly sensitive leaks of Government documentation. The Obama Administration is currently awash in scandal and chaos revolving around leakage from all directions.

Cursory research leads to the simple conclusion that the major leaks, involving insider whistle-blowers, comes in spurts of three, and also in a three year window of time. The most current set of three major incidences cover the years 2010-2013, and involve the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, and the U.S. Department of State. Looking back in time, the last set of three major incidences in a three year period occurred between 1971 and 1974.

Back then, it was the U.S. Department of Defense, the Committee to Re-elect the President (Dick Nixon), and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. In all three of the following cases, the U.S. Public hailed these leakers/whistle-blowers as National heroes.

In 1971, Mr. Daniel Ellsberg, a senior military analyst, was working for the Department of Defense when he leaked a truck load of evidence from the Pentagon about how the U.S. Government was lying to the U.S. Public about what was happening over in Southeast Asia (the Vietnam War era). Oddly enough, he never spent a day in jail, and his “leakage” hastened the end of America’s war in Indo-China.

In 1972, “Tricky” Dick Nixon was running for re-election for the Presidency when some of his henchmen broke into the Democratic National Offices at the Watergate Hotel to see what the opposition was up to. The perpetrators got caught; there were more investigations than you could shake a stick at; the actual “perps” went to jail; Nixon got reelected, but eventually was forced to resign the Presidency rather than be tossed out under impeachment.

In this case, the Reporters who published the information had a source they called “Deep Throat”. Thirty years after the fact, Mark Felt, the Deputy Associate Director of the FBI in the early 70’s came out the shadows and announced that he was Deep Throat. Neither the whistle-blower nor the reporters spent a day in jail for blowing the whistle. Felt helped strengthen ethics laws and helped initiate political campaign laws.

In 1974, wife and mother of three, Karen Silkwood of Crescent, Oklahoma ripped into the Nation’s nuclear industry in hearings held by the Atomic Energy Commission. She was deeply concerned over the lack of worker safety, especially at the Kerr-McGee Plutonium Manufacturing Plant where she was an employee.

Feeling that the Industry was turning a deaf ear to her testimony, she contacted the Media and was on her way to meet with a New York Times Reporter when she was mysteriously killed in a convenient car wreck just outside of Oklahoma City.


Fast forward to the Twenty-First Century, and we are experiencing yet another round of three major whistle-blowing events in the span of three years. This time, the one big difference is that we find ourselves in the Electronic Age with news coming at us from all directions every hour of the day. We are fed our dose of “heroes” to the point of severely diminishing that moniker on a daily basis.

In 2010, a twenty-three year old U.S. Army Private named Bradley Manning absconded with thousands upon thousands of sensitive documents stored away in the memory banks of U.S. Army Intelligence. These documents detailed what the public didn’t know about how his country wages war.

Manning tried, unsuccessfully, to have this information published by the New York Times and the Washington Post. Failing at this attempt, he turned to Julian Assange and Wikileaks who gladly obliged him. Our national intelligence community went through the roof, and Manning was tossed into solitary confinement in military prison for a full year. He was formally charged with twenty-two counts of misconduct; pleaded guilty to the ten lesser charges and is now embroiled in what should be a lengthy court martial on the more serious twelve charges. Bradley Manning, may change the way the U.S. conducts war   and covert operations in the future

In 2012, a career U.S. State Department employee of twenty-two years, Gregory Hicks, appeared before a Senate Sub-committee Hearing to break the news that he had called for help the night the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked. In an open forum he stated that he was very much aware that the attack on the Consulate was a terrorist attack; not the mob reaction that was first reported as the reason for the attack.

Mr. Hicks went on to explain that he had requested military help the night of the attack, and his request was denied. Four State Department employees lost their lives that night. The initial release from the Executive Branch was proven to be false and misleading, and spawned numerous Congressional inquiries into the matter. The Media will not let this situation go, and, as a result, The State Department is spending much of their time testifying before Congressional Committees with no end in sight.

images_142013 has given us Edward Snowden, a seemingly mild-mannered intelligence technician who has blown the lid off the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. This dissemination of classified surveillance documents may prove to be the block-buster of all Government leaks. Prior to Mr. Snowden’s efforts, in 2005 Russel Tice and William Binney of the NSA tried in vain to alert the public about the “out of control” surveillance blanket that was gobbling up every piece of voice and data transmission in the entire Country, and storing it all on their super-computers.

The Bush Administration quashed any further leaks by threatening life imprisonment or worse and effectively silenced the attempt at more transparency by the Federal Government. Along comes Mr. Snowden and he lays bare all the sordid details of the US and European “telephone metadata”, the “PRISM” and “Temporal Internet” surveillance programs. He quietly skips town, and is charged with theft of Government Property, unauthorized communication of National Defense Information, and willful communication of Classified Intelligence to an unauthorized person; the latter two charges come under the oh so timely “Espionage Act”, of 1917.

Unlike those before him, Mr. Snowden managed to get his information published in his first attempt. The Guardian Newspaper of London, through reporter Glenn Greenwald broke the news to the world in June of this year. Snowden is currently on the lamb having been charged in absentia.

These current events have placed the Department of Defense (again), the Department of State, and the National Security Agency in serious tail-spins. The fact that all the current events are happening within the Executive Branch is not lost on the conservative Media. Now the question is, “Are Bradley Manning, Gregory Hicks, and Ed Snowden national heroes or national goats (the traitors they are being portrayed as in the media)”?

So you see, things do happen in threes, as the saying goes. What will become of our present whistle-blowers remains to be determined legally. However, in the court of public opinion, these three gentlemen are destined to go down in History as champions of the people. The way we view our elected officials will never be the same.

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