The personal price associated with national security whistleblowing is staggering. In my case, I gave a nationally-televised interview blowing the whistle on the CIA's torture program. The CIA immediately demanded that the Justice Department investigate me. Four years later I was charged with five felonies, including three counts of espionage.
Of course, I hadn't committed espionage. Revealing a government crime is not espionage. Having lunch with the New York Times and saying that the CIA is torturing its prisoners is not espionage.
But the Justice Department charges whistleblowers with espionage to force them to defend themselves. The point is not even to find you guilty of this heinous crime. It is to bankrupt you, to separate you from friends, family, and your natural allies. And it's to frighten other would-be whistleblowers.
My three espionage charges were eventually dropped, but not until I had liquidated all my assets to give to my attorneys, and not until I had accumulated additional legal bills of $880,000, an amount which I likely will never be able to repay.
As I said, the price was high. But it was worth it. Torture is formally and permanently illegal in the United States, whether the CIA likes it or not. I'm proud to have played a role in that outcome.
Thomas Drake also played such a role, and paid the price for telling the truth. Read his message here
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Also, The RootsAction Education Fund Team has a message for you...
"As CIA and NSA whistleblowers, John Kiriakou and Tom have paid a steep price for speaking truth about undemocratic power. Now they need your help!
"With vindictive prosecutions, the government wrecked their personal finances. Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation now. Half of every dollar will go directly to Tom and John, while the other half will go to the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign that they co-chair.
John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA and two years in a federal prison for blowing the whistle on the agency's use of torture. He served on John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee for two years as senior investigator into the Middle East. He writes and speaks about national security, (more...)
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