Chelsea Manning and the Contemporary Intelligence Whistleblower : Prescriptions for the 21st Century
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Instead of an act of betrayal, principled whistle blowing ought to be considered a different realization of the sworn oath to one's country. Political scientist C. Fred Alford stated, "A real cynic isn't going to blow the whistle. A real conformist isn't going to blow the whistle. And a real radical probably won't be in a position to do it. It takes someone who believes in the system far more than the system believes in itself' (Abraham 2004). Whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning serve their civic post until a realization of wrongdoing introduces a choice-whether or not to disclose this abuse, to what source, and with what expected outcome. This work explains the ways in which a contemporary intelligence sector employee may reach this decision, taking into account the nature of the information, deficiencies in the traditional method of reporting and the likelihood that the disclosure will be meaningfully addressed, alternative means of disclosure, and the subsequent charges and court conditions that will likely occur. The indications of these factors may appear pessimistic, but we are entering an era where the names of whistleblowers are increasingly found in common discourse, and their disclosures have members of the public demanding more governmental accountability. Individuals with the courage to disclose wrongdoing will exist even in the case of such chilling precedent, but it is in the best interest of the U.S. government and public to be receptive to these individuals and penalize the exposed wrongdoings instead of those who reveal them. The author reviews the case of intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning) who questioned the morality of the U.S. operation in Iraq and after contacting the Washington Post and the New York Times disclosed the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, the “Collateral Murder” video, and diplomatic cables from the State Department to the online news site WikiLeaks. Also included is an overview and critique of Manning’s trial. Finally the author considers the role and characteristics of the act of whistleblowing in the 21st Century.