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U.S. Intelligence Analyst Arrested in Wikileaks Video Probe

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To Josh and wraith808:
So what you say is that, for example, W. Mark Felt was wrong to leak information about the illegalities committed by the Nixon administration?

<snip />

Indeed, I do not work with classified data, so I do not know all the details regarding this subject. I only read some stories about some whistleblowers, people that have put their careers and even lifes in jeopardy in order to stop bad things and bad people (or at least to inform us about their existence). And I am glad that they did it.
-bgd77 (June 09, 2010, 03:39 PM)
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Let's go a bit into why oversight isn't as good as it perhaps should be, and why those being scrutinized might have a problem with it.

The classified information in a lot of cases isn't just discrete bits of data.  In the end, there are assets on the ground- people- that put their lives in the way for different reasons.  No matter what these reasons are, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”  People in oversight in some cases use information for political purposes of all sorts.  Because of people getting burned, the assets are skittish about people knowing about them, and the people that utilize the information are skittish because these leaks make it harder for them to get the assets in the first place.  This makes our defense weaker- we might not get information to effectively handle something because someone is concerned for their safety.

This lack of trust for the oversight, and for the operations that might be put into place makes the oversight process a lot less than it should be, which then weakens the ability for true problems to be brought to light.

Was W. Mark Felt wrong?  Yes.  Do the ends justify the means?  No.  Something good came of it, but that still doesn't make it right, or him any less wrong.  The problem with classified information and oversight needs to be solved, but having people reveal classified information doesn't make that problem go away, nor does it make going against the vow that you make right.  These kinds of revelations have the potential to make real people that are just doing their job and happen to be incidental to the information in question be put at unnecessary risk... and that's not right no matter what IMO.  The problem needs to be fixed from the top down, and not the bottom up, and the only way to do that is to (1) make enforcing the CIA Secrecy Agreement a priority no matter what, so that those protected by the classified information are just that... protected, and (2) make oversight a priority and those that violate oversight for any reason liable for that, and (3) make sure that the oversight committee is staffed by those that understand that they either *have* to be available when a Presidential Finding is issued in order to be notified, or give some sort of leeway in the reporting to take into account their unavailability.  

Exceptions to prima facie ethical principles must be shown to fulfill more important principles, not simply be assumed to be acceptable due to their being professionally "expedient." An affirmation of the legitimacy of the CIA as an institution does not entail moral approval of every end it might pursue nor every method it might employ.  And oversight helps to keep the CIA in line with the rule of law, while keeping their methods and information out of public scrutiny.

Let's hear some examples of when a whistleblower's actions have directly resulted in the harm or death of any innocent person. On the counterpoint, let's hear about (the likely small portion that we know of) incidents where we find out later that the depth of secrecy we maintain has likewise resulted in harm or death of innocents. Which is greater? This is the only way to make a fair judgment, by your reasoning. Swearing an alliegance is a red herring. If you swear alliegance to an authority that is corrupt, is it still your moral duty to respect that alliegance? What duties to those who are sworn to maintain, and if they break those, what are the consequences?

- Oshyan

wraith808, it seems to me that you see the problem only from the U.S. military and intelligence officials that fight in the war. But there are also (and they are a lot more than the ones from military/intel) public servants, or government or big corporations employees that have been whistleblowers.

Let me ask you something. If you were working for the government or for a big corporation and you would have access to classified information that would reveal that crimes have been committed. Lets say that you would announce all the appropriate authorities about this and nothing would happen. Maybe the crimes are still being committed. What would you do?

JavaJones, the only examples I can give you are this ones:

Right, and the only thing you see on that list is either the whistleblowers themselves dying:
Ramin Pourandarjani, an Iranian physician, reported on the state use of torture on political prisoners. He died of poisoning shortly thereafter.
Satyendra Dubey, who accused employer NHAI of corruption in highway construction projects in India, in letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Assassinated on November 27, 2003. Enormous media coverage following his death may lead to Whistleblower Act in India.
S. Manjunath, a formerly manager at Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), and crusader against adulteration of petrol. He was shot dead on November 19, 2005, allegedly by a petrol pump owner from Uttar Pradesh.
Philip Schneider, a former U.S. geologist who helped constructing various classified military underground bases, who gave public lectures around 1995. He was found dead in his apartment in January 1996.


The whistleblowers doing what they did *because* people were dying (and they wanted to prevent it):
Stewart Menzies, a British intelligence officer, who while serving in France  during World War I, reported that General Douglas Haig, the Commander-in-Chief, was fudging intelligence estimates, leading to the needless death of thousands of British soldiers

- Oshyan

Write-up in wired:

But his own words to Lamo describe his transformation from dutiful soldier into a leaker. From his chats, it’s clear that Manning was a deeply unhappy and conflicted man, and his personal problems may have combined with a growing cynicism over U.S. foreign policy. But Manning isolated a key turning point in his regard for the military; he said it was when he was ordered to look the other way in the face of an injustice.

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