WASHINGTON (VR) — The revelation from the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) General Michael Hayden, that “We kill people based on metadata” (primarily the time and location of calls between telephones) underlines the culture of executioners that has taken hold at the top of the US intelligence pyramid, contends Beatrice Edwards, the executive director of the US’s foremost whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, the Government Accountability Project.

Radio VR’s David Kerans spoke with Edwards about the significance of Hayden’s comments, the extralegal procedures of US drone strikes, the uneven state of whistleblower protections across agencies of the US government, and the impossibility for Edward Snowden to have addressed the NSA’s abuses of power through channels available to him within the system.

On Snowden, executive director Edwards traced the tragic fate of whistleblowers who preceded him within the NSA and faced vehement retaliation. She also detailed the partial neutering of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, from which were stripped out at the last minute protections it would have afforded to employees working in intelligence sector agencies.

He noted that Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive 19 stipulates that appropriate protections for whistleblowers should be in place even for security sector agencies, but for practical purposes such protections are not currently in place.

Edwards does credit the government for having strengthened whistleblower protections over the last few years in non-security sectors.

Listen to the interview here.