​'No leaked info should be withheld, whistleblowers risk life for it'

Annie Machon
Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, inter­na­tional tour and event organ­iser, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She has a rare per­spect­ive both on the inner work­ings of gov­ern­ments, intel­li­gence agen­cies and the media, as well as the wider implic­a­tions for the need for increased open­ness and account­ab­il­ity in both pub­lic and private sectors.
​'No leaked info should be withheld, whistleblowers risk life for it'
As a dispute is brewing in the whistleblower community on whether to name the country targeted by a massive US spying operation, former MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT the global community deserves to know information whistleblowers risk their lives for.

Despite warnings doing so “could lead to increased violence” and potentially deaths, anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks says it plans to publish the name of a country targeted by a massive United States surveillance operation earlier described in The Intercept report – which only named the Bahamas as one of the targets.

RT:What would be the consequences if we did know about the other country besides the Bahamas?

Annie Machon: Well, I think the whole situation here is very unfortunate. I would like to say upfront that I'm a huge supporter of the model of WikiLeaks, a high tech publishing conduit for whistleblowers at risk of persecution and prosecution. And I'm also a huge fan of what Glenn Greenwald has been doing over the years as a campaigning journalist, most notably for his support of WikiLeaks and also his subsequent work with Edward Snowden.

But I'm looking at it from a whistleblower point of view. And I can see some issues here I think, where the whistleblower takes a risk, they take certain information which they feel is very much in the public interest, which they access is not going to harm anyone or put any lives at risk and they want it published. So as soon as you get any sort of mainstream media or media outlet deciding, taking it upon themselves to decide to what is being published, then we have a sort of de facto censorship again.

Edward Snowden risked his life in getting this information out there. He thought it was important enough to do that, and I think it would only be fair for that information to come out.

RT:Right, we know it’s the Bahamas that is one of the countries, which is then is this other country and why by revealing its name would it cause such a disastrous impact according to Glenn Greenwald?

AM: Well this is a very good question. Is he a security expert? I don’t think so. He is a fabulous campaigning journalist, but Edward Snowden took that document to prove a certain point, that endemic surveillance of a vulnerable country. And I think we the people, the global population certainly deserve to hear that.

RT:So you think this should be revealed? What country then are we talking about, do you think?

AM: I do not know. I do not know, but I think what is being revealed from this latest disclosure is that they tend to be countries who might be targeted by the US because of their involvement as transit countries or whatever in the war on drugs. They are part of the cartel target list or the drug trade target list. And I think this highlights very clearly that the US uses not just the war on terror to invade our civil liberties and to intercede and invade other countries around the world, but for five decades it has been waging the war on drugs and using that for exactly the same purpose, to take away our civil liberties.

RT:This is disastrous for the whistleblower community. You are a part of that community. Is this a massive spat on the whole whistleblower initiative?

AM: I don’t think it will be harmful to the actual whistleblowers. More will come out despite the attempts by US in particular, the UK and other countries, to wage this war on whistleblowers. There will be future people of conscience coming forward and saying, 'this is wrong, this is a war crime, this needs to be addressed.'

Unfortunately the spat has created a bit of a sideline away from the actual need of the disclosures and future disclosures. And we are seeing this action as blockage for getting information out there, which we the people need to know. So I hope it can get resolved. But whichever way, whistleblowers will continue to come out as long as there is corruption and no other alternative for them.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.