WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS:
FREE PRESS AND THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE
Starring Daniel Ellsberg,
Directed by Robert Greenwald
Compelling documentary featuring cases of truth told to power, and increasing attempts to keep that from happening.
Featuring almost no narration, we learn from a Marine named Franz Gayl that Humvees were not designed for sustaining blasts from IEDs, and that what troops in Iraq needed were MRAP vehicles, which were designed to withstand IEDs. Determined to save lives, Gayl decided to bring the matter to the attention of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. But, according to Gayl, “When the officials saw the brief that I was going to present, they said, ‘Absolutely not. That cannot be allowed to go forward.’”
“What happens is,” says Gayl, “bureaucracy has its own interests.”
According to Daniel Ellsberg, we have “a national security state that pretends it’s interested in national security, when in fact it’s interested in the security of corporate interests, of agency interests, of politicians keeping their jobs.”
In the words of Dana Priest, investigative reporter for The Washington Post, our own national security state is “a self-licking ice cream cone” which exists “to support itself.”
For Gayl, the decision to replace Humvees with MRAPs was a no-brainer. Stymied by his chain of command, Gayl performed an end-run. When the article “Military Dragged Feet on Bomb-Proof Vehicles” appeared in a blog called Danger Room, things changed. Senator Joe Biden asked if Gayl would like to speak to USA Today.
“Fight ‘em with truth,” says USA Today journalist Tom Vanden Brook. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Subsequent to his whistleblowing, Gayl underwent a series of reprisals before the Marines put him on administrative leave.
As David Carr, journalist for The New York Times, says of whistleblowers, “It’s almost always bad for them. They’re the ones putting their careers on the line.”
“I knew that I could be fired,” says Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive of the National Security Agency, “but as an American I made that choice.” For Drake, that choice occurred when he discovered that the NSA was secretly spying on Americans using blanket electronic surveillance “with no controls, no accountability, no oversight.”
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: “We see governments are increasingly starting to shut us out. They’re starting to change the process by which they govern.”
According to NBC investigative journalist Michael Isikoff, “The Obama Administration’s been extremely aggressive in trying to root out whistleblowers within the government.” In an unprecedented move, Obama forced down the presidential plane of Bolivia under the false rumor that Edward Snowden might be on board.
“This is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” Snowden says. But how are we to make informed decisions if we don’t know what our government is doing?
Stewart Kirby writes for