News Release

Why Are Some Real Whistleblowers Derided? The Case of MoveOn and “Whistleblower Aid”

Why Are Some Real Whistleblowers Derided? The Case of MoveOn and "Whistleblower Aid"Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in the Washington Post Tuesday: “After House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry last week, President Trump condemned the person responsible for the whistleblower complaint that set the wheels in motion, likening the whistleblower to ‘spies’ who are guilty of ‘treason.’ It may be tempting to attribute this rhetoric to the president’s dictatorial streak, but the sentiment behind Trump’s words is all too familiar. Yes, many are portraying the anonymous intelligence official who blew the whistle on Trump as a hero, but all too often Americans who reveal truths about government misdeeds are treated as traitors.

“Take Edward Snowden. It has been six years since Snowden leaked a trove of secret documents that exposed the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program. For this act of public service, Snowden was charged with violating the Espionage Act, forcing him to live in exile in Russia. And even as the latest whistleblower scandal was breaking, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Snowden over the release of his new memoir, Permanent Record — an absurd act of spite considering that the book contains no details about surveillance that have not been previously reported. …

“[Daniel] Ellsberg, of course, is the godfather of modern whistleblowing. After his 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers revealed that multiple U.S. administrations had misled the public about their plans for war in Vietnam, Ellsberg faced charges under the Espionage Act. Henry Kissinger famously labeled him ‘the most dangerous man in America who must be stopped at all costs.’ But Ellsberg was not stopped. The charges against him were dropped after it was revealed that White House operatives had broken into his psychiatrist’s office in an attempt to discredit him — and he has gone on to a prolific career as a writer, lecturer and activist.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com, @xposefacts
Solomon just wrote the piece “MoveOn’s Phony New Campaign for ‘Protecting Whistleblowers,’” which states: “All of a sudden, MoveOn wants to help ‘national security’ whistleblowers.

“Well, some of them, anyway.

“After many years of carefully refusing to launch a single campaign in support of brave whistleblowers who faced vicious prosecution during the Obama administration — including Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden, and CIA whistleblowers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling — MoveOn.org has just cherrypicked a whistleblowing hero it can support. …

“(Full disclosure: The organization where I’m national coordinator, RootsAction.org, has campaigned in support of all five of the above-named whistleblowers, with petitions, news conferences, protests, and fundraising.) …

“The organization that MoveOn just teamed up with — Whistleblower Aid — explicitly does not support people like Snowden, Drake, Kiriakou, Sterling, and Manning, or the more recent whistleblower Reality Winner. The founding legal partner at Whistleblower Aid, Mark Zaid, has maintained a vehement position against unauthorized release of classified information for many years. …

“MoveOn has not only refused to support courageous whistleblowers like Snowden, Drake, Manning, Kiriakou, and Sterling — who’ve informed the world about systematic war crimes, wholesale shredding of the Fourth Amendment with mass surveillance, officially sanctioned torture, and dangerously flawed intelligence operations.

“Now, MoveOn is partnering with a legal outfit that actually contends such brave souls don’t deserve any protections as whistleblowers. Despite its assertion that ‘protecting whistleblowers is critical for a healthy democracy,’ MoveOn is now splitting donations with an organization that supports the absence of legal protections for many of them.”

Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is coordinator of ExposeFacts.org — a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy that focuses on whistleblowing.