Whistleblowers then and now

Bradley Manning

Pfc. Bradley Manning released classified documents to Wikileaks. (File photo)

The National Security Agency leak that has prompted the debate over civil liberties and national security is hardly novel. Like anything, leaks can come in all shapes and sizes, from emails to computer logs to metadata. And yes, they come from people on all rungs on the proverbial federal ladder, from senior advisers to (apparently) former security guards for the NSA. And whistleblowers have ended up everywhere from a jail cell to a successful private-sector career.

Bradley Manning, Private First Class, U.S. Army: The trial of Manning began in early June, three years after he was arrested for releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks. Manning has pleaded guilty to 10 out of the 22 counts against him. He did not plead guilty to aiding the enemy, which can carry a life sentence or the death penalty. A petition to award Manning the Nobel Peace Prize has 68,000 signatures.

Jesselyn Radack, Justice Department: As an ethics advisor, Radack leaked emails about the interrogation of the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. Radack blew the whistle on the 2001 Lindh interrogation because there was not a lawyer present. She is now the national security and human rights director of the Government Accountability Project, writes for the Daily Kos and Huffington Post and wrote a memoir about the Lindh leak.

Thomas Drake, NSA: As a senior official, Drake provided information to the Baltimore Sun that exposed agency waste. In 2007, the FBI raided Drake's house and arrested him under the Espionage Act; he received probation and community service. Drake recently talked to Salon about the latest NSA leak and the prevalence of government surveillance.

Jeffrey Sterling, CIA: Sterling was arrested in 2011 for leaking information related to Iran's weapon capabilities to New York Times reporter James Risen. He was fired from the CIA in 2002. Sterling, who is black, filed a racial discrimination suit against the CIA.

About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments


It would be helpful if this magazine or other objectives think tanks would sponsor a conferences on this issues for further discussion on Whistle Blowing in a Digital Age, Privacy and transparency. How do these matter now fit into the governance of demcractric government?

Wed, Jun 12, 2013

Whistle blowers are heros or villians depending on who is in the White House. Notice all whistle blowers on this administrations watch are villians - at least according to the news media.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group