People

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.

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