Edward Snowden Receives Whistleblowing Award

from the with-a-great-acceptance-speech dept

I’m still at a loss as to how people cannot call Ed Snowden a whistleblower, given just how many government abuses his leaks have revealed, and the wider discussion they have created (all without revealing anything that appears to be truly damaging — just embarrassing). So it’s good to see that he received a big whisteblower award in Germany over the weekend. Since he was (obviously) unable to attend in person, Jacob Appelbaum read his acceptance speech, opening it up with a very heartfelt discussion of the type of person that Snowden appears to be. It’s worth watching.

You can read Snowden’s acceptance speech as well. It’s a quick read, but worth it. Here’s a snippet:

My gratitude belongs to all of those who have reached out to their friends and family to explain why suspicionless surveillance matters. It belongs to the man in a mask on the street on a hot day and the women with a sign and an umbrella in the rain, it belongs to the young people in college with a civil liberty sticker on their laptop, and the kid in the back of a class in high school making memes. All of these people accept that change begins with a single voice and spoke one message to the world: governments must be accountable to us for the decisions that they make. Decisions regarding the kind of world we will live in. What kind of rights and freedoms individuals will enjoy are the domain of the public, not the government in the dark.

Yet the happiness of this occasion is for me tempered by an awareness of the road traveled to bring us here today. In contemporary America the combination of weak legal protections for whistleblowers, bad laws that provide no public interest defense and a doctrine of immunity for officials who have strayed beyond the boundaries of law has perverted the system of incentives that regulates secrecy in government. This results in a situation that associates an unreasonably high price with maintaining the necessary foundation of our liberal democracy – our informed citizenry. Speaking truth to power has caused whistleblowers their freedom, family, or country.

It is unfortunate that so many still cannot see what an amazing thing Snowden has done, and how it is clearly whistleblowing against government abuse.

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Comments on “Edward Snowden Receives Whistleblowing Award”

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23 Comments
out_of_the_blue says:

Strange parenthetical.

Here you’ve written only a little Mushy text to tack together some items you found on the net. And in your characteristic Muddly Mikeness, just raise various questions: “(all without revealing anything that appears to be truly damaging — just embarrassing)” … So… Do you think NSA officials are actually embarrassed? — Is embarrassing some officals what Snowden risked his future for? — Does that mean you rule out them going to be fired and jailed for crimes as should be? — Or since not “truly damaging”, do you agree with my conjecture that it’s all a limited hangout that’ll soon blow over?

The more I read you, the less I know what you believe. Even your fanboys can’t say, they just project their own hopes and opinions onto you. You’re the leader of the Kibitzer Party.


Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items.

beltorak (profile) says:

Re: Strange parenthetical.

Do you think NSA officials are actually embarrassed?

It is embarrassing; the fact that the officials aren’t embarrassed by it strongly hints that they are broken.

Some alternate theories: 1) they are embarrassed, but in an effort to try and save face, justify their actions, or avoid lawsuits, they are hiding their embarrassment; 2) they feel very uncomfortable about something, but have not developed the normal adult introspective capabilities to identify their feelings as embarrassment, so they react like children often do – namecalling, shifting blame, and rediculous denials.

I think we do however need to stop saying that it’s “embarrassing”. It’s not really. Embarrassment is an emotional response to an accident. This is different. This is shameful, and they should feel ashamed.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Because to be a whistleblowers means exposing illegal and/or unethical actions'

Well supposedly even admitting that the programs were going on, not the methodology used, but simply the fact that the programs existed at all, even to those that were supposed to be overseeing things, would have presented a grave threat to national security, the effectiveness of the programs, or whatever other excuse they try to bring out to justify the lying.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: 'Because to be a whistleblowers means exposing illegal and/or unethical actions'

The “now everybody will use obscure foreign services and encryption on the connected tubes”-arguments!
Somewhat there is an argument of industrial sabotage and defamation, but it is pretty hard not to point to NSA as the guilty party.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 'Because to be a whistleblowers means exposing illegal and/or unethical actions'

It appears the government did do some things wrong. Unfortunately, the information being disclosed is not limited to just that. Some of the legal activity is interesting in that it confirms what has long been suspected, but confirmation cuts in many directions…one of them being towards people and countries having interests divergent from us.

So, in one sense Snowden can be called a whistleblower. However, the information he took that is being publicly disclosed is much broader than just exposing illegal activity, and in this regard he has strayed into completely different territory.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Is it wrongdoing, as an example, to create a budget for the CIA and the NSA, and that this must be exposed for all to see…both those who actually pay the bills (taxpayers) and others who may benefit to the detriment of national security by highlighting areas of importance to these two organizations? Of course it is not, though reasonable minds may differ if money is being allocated and spent wisely. However, this is sensitive information that almost certainly should not be “shared” publicly. The very same can be said of many other items of information that have been made available by Snowden to news outlets. These disclosures may make for great news headlines and market share, but at a cost to our country’s security that is not readily ascertainable.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

but at a cost to our country’s security that is not readily ascertainable.

Indeed. It’s difficult to put a price on bringing liberty and freedom and respect for the Constitution back to the country, don’t you think?

Sorry, but for all your defense of the government, shining some light on abuses by the government is, absolutely and without question, whistleblowing. And, yes, that includes things like details in the black budget. Contrary to your bogus assertion, Snowden did not expose this info “for all to see.” He passed it along to a reporter, who went back and forth with the US gov’t to make sure that nothing revealed was too sensitive.

Details. You should learn to get some.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

These disclosures may make for great news headlines and market share, but at a cost to our country’s security that is not readily ascertainable.

Exposing the budget is an important part of the deal, in my opinion, because it’s helpful in determining nuances you speak of.

As to the cost to our nation’s security, I’m far from convinced that these program are a net positive for our security. They may (although it seems dubious) provide some measure of safety from those the government has declared to be evil, but at the cost of decreasing our security from the actions of government and large industries.

It looks to me like, best case, it’s a wash. We’re just trading what group of people we’re going to be abused by.

Anonymous Coward says:

Snowden’s actions are not an either-or situation. It is quite easy for one to be both a whistleblower and a criminal deserving of prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. What is troubling about so many of the articles here is that they embody the “black and white” about which I stand accused. My sole point is that in matters of classified information black and white is not in my opinion the norm. I have seen over the years many classified documents that caused me to wonder “What were they thinking? No way this should be classified.” Of course, as more data became available the reason for classification became quite apparent. I do not disagree that far too many documents are classified by the governing Executive Order, but at the same time I am mindful that what I may personally believe at first glance may eventually be proven completely wrong. Merely FYI, my observations hold true at every level, from FOUO to levels far higher than TS.

IOW, in the mass of documents kept under wraps by the USG black and white is well in the minority and a broad continuum of gray is clearly the rule.

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