NSA Whistleblowers Thomas Drake, William Binney, J. Kirk Wiebe and Diane Roark went through internal channels, and became targets of an Espionage Act investigation.
“Not only did going through proper channels provide no meaningful redress to the five whistleblowers’ complaints, it gravely injured them. Drake lost his job, security clearance, and income stream, while simultaneously incurring half a million dollars in legal debt. And that was just during the investigatory phase. By the time of his indictment, he was declared indigent. Today, he works as a wage-grade employee at an Apple computer store, a far cry from his six-figure job at NSA. Drake’s story puts the lie to the notion that internal channels serve as anything other than a trap for unwitting whistleblowers. What is so revealing is that if Snowden had gone through internal channels, the outcome would have been worse: the United States would have charged him with espionage and he’d be in jail for, in essence, spying on his own country on behalf of the public. It should not require martyrdom for a free citizen to challenge government abuses of power. It should not require choosing one’s conscience over one’s career, citizenship, or freedom.” Source: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/16/how_to_trap_a_whistleblower/
There is no public interest defense to Espionage Act charges.
- “Mr. Snowden has already been charged under an arcane World War I law called the Espionage Act of 1917, just as Mr. Drake, Kiriakou and Manning were for revealing information about surveillance, torture and war crimes, respectively. Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, was the first American charged under the law for “leaking” national-defense information in 1971. The Obama administration has charged more whistleblowers with mishandling secret information under the Espionage Act—a total of seven, so far—than all previous presidents combined.” Source: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303595404579318884005698684 (Link to full article.)
- “If Edward Snowden comes back to the US to face trial, he likely will not be able to tell a jury why he did what he did, and what happened because of his actions. Contrary to common sense, there is no public interest exception to the Espionage Act. Prosecutors in recent cases have convinced courts that the intent of the leaker, the value of leaks to the public, and the lack of harm caused by the leaks are irrelevant—and are therefore inadmissible in court.” Source: https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2013/12/if-snowden-returned-us-trial-all-whistleblower-evidence-would-likely-be-inadmissible
Journalists entrusted with data clear all revelations with government first.
- “Late this spring, Snowden supplied three journalists, including this one, with caches of top-secret documents from the National Security Agency, where he worked as a contractor. Dozens of revelations followed, and then hundreds, as news organizations around the world picked up the story. Congress pressed for explanations, new evidence revived old lawsuits and the Obama administration was obliged to declassify thousands of pages it had fought for years to conceal. Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/edward-snowden-after-months-of-nsa-revelations-says-his-missions-accomplished/2013/12/23/49fc36de-6c1c-11e3-a523-fe73f0ff6b8d_story.html
- “[Snowden] added that he did not control what the journalists who had the documents wrote about. He said that he handed over the documents to them because he wanted his own bias “divorced from the decision-making of publication,” and that “technical solutions were in place to ensure the work of the journalists couldn’t be interfered with.”” Source: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/world/snowden-says-he-took-no-secret-files-to-russia.html?from=homepage