In a wide-ranging interview arranged by USA Today last Friday, three National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblowers and their attorney were grilled about Edward Snowden’s revelations and their reactions to them. They uniformly exhibited a palpable sense of relief that finally someone had been able to break through and get their message into the public square, something they had failed to do on their own.
The three, Thomas Drake, William Binney and Kirk Wiebe, along with attorney Jesselyn Radack, the director of the non-profit public interest law firm Government Accountability Project, were asked pointedly about their reactions to what many are claiming were Snowden’s illegal and even traitorous acts of disclosure of the surveillance state constructed by the NSA. To a man, they supported Snowden:
Binney: We tried to stay for the better part of seven years inside the government trying to get the government to recognize the unconstitutional, illegal activity that they were doing and openly admit that and devise certain ways that would be constitutionally and legally acceptable to achieve the ends they were really after.
And that just failed totally because no one in Congress or — we couldn't get anybody in the courts, and certainly the Department of Justice and inspector general's office didn't pay any attention to it.
All of the efforts we made just produced no change whatsoever. All it did was continue to get worse and expand.
The others agreed with Binney’s assessment and then Radack jumped in:
Radack: Not only did they go through multiple and all the proper internal channels and they failed, but more than that, it was turned against them....
The inspector general was the one who gave their names to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act. And they were all targets of a federal criminal investigation, and Tom [Drake] ended up being prosecuted … for blowing the whistle.
They were asked if Snowden was a hero or a traitor:
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