‘Snowden broke the mold and freed up whistleblowers like Binney’
The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award 2015 is taking place in Berlin on January 22. This year the award goes to William “Bill” Binney, retired NSA Technical Director, who revealed the extent of the US surveillance programs.
RT:Why do we need this annual award?
Ray McGovern: There are very few people who stood up for the Constitution of the United States after 9/11. You have heard that said many times that after 9/11: “everything changed.” Well, most people did change with the flow of what happened. Most people felt free to violate the Constitution of the United States. Though Binney did not feel free and neither did Ed Snowden. They both knew about what Ed Snowden called a “turnkey tyranny” about to be instituted there with the dragnet surveillance that was going on. And so Bill Binney who quit when he saw the Fourth Amendment was being violated, Bill Binney is being honored this evening and I’m delighted to say that fully half of former Sam Adams award winners will be here in Berlin to honor Bill Binney.
RT:Chelsea Manning is in jail, Edward Snowden is living in exile and Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Are they an inspiration or a deterrent to potential whistleblowers?
RM: It would be deterrence if they were always successful in apprehending and jailing these folks. That’s where Ed Snowden broke the mold. And it was Ed Snowden that freed up people like Bill Binney to comment freely on the abuses that had happened because now it was out in the open. And Tom Drake who was also an award winner, it was Tom Drake’s four years of ruthless prosecution and afterward the judge said “All felony charges dismissed and don’t you ever bring a case like this into my court again, you, government lawyers.” It was Tom Drake who showed an example of what happens when you try to write these things through channels internally. Ed Snowden saw that and decided he had to get out of town, out of the country to do it correctly. And when Ed Snowden did that he made it possible for others to tell the truth about the outrageous eavesdropping on Americans and pretty much on everyone around the world.
RT:Can governments do anything to silence the whistleblowers?
RM: You know, the examples continue to multiply of people with courage. And conversely the government keeps trying to pursue people who have shown courage. Now there is a trial going on now outside of Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, following Jeffrey Sterling who unveiled - it’s not clear that he did it but he is being charged with unveiling - a terribly naïve plan to give corrupted nuclear design plants to Iran way back 10 years ago. So they are still going after whistleblowers. I think that Jeffrey Sterling is going to be the first one to prove that the government can’t do this willy-nilly because they have a very tenuous circumstantial case at best.
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