A history on whistleblowing, different parameters of evaluation for disclosure of classified material

Captain Morgan T. Seligman, retired US Navy

1942 Morton Seligman decoded Navy messages of the Japanese order of battle to a reporter. Leak could have exposed the fact that the US had cracked the Japanese naval codes. Seligman was not prosecuted left ashore and denied promotion. The Chicago Tribune was accused of treason, proceedings to charge the paper under The Espionnage Act of 1917 . The grand jury refused to hand down indictments, Navy officials didn’t appear at the proceedings for fear of revealing more information in their testimony.


 The ChicagoTribune, june 7, 1942

Christopher Pyle, law professor, former military intelligence captain

1970 Christopher Pyle disclosed existence of US Army domestic intelligence program aimed at antiwar and civil rights activists. Investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pyle was hired to work on the Committee. He was not prosecuted.


Perry Fellwock, Air Force veteran, former NSA analyst

1970 Perry Fellwock first major NSA leaker. Leaks related to NSA conducting extensive signals intelligence on the Soviet Union, that NSA had information sharing agreements with other nations, that NSA systematically recorded and searched phone calls into or out of the USA. Fellwock was never prosecuted.

‘Electronic Espionage: A Memoir’,Ramparts magazine, ,Vol. 11, No 2, August 1972, pp. 35-50

New York Times, ‘Ability to Break Soviet Codes reported; US Reportedly Able to Break All Soviet Codes’


Daniel Ellsberg, former US military analyst (Pentagon, State Department, RAND), Anthony Russo, former US military intelligence analyst

1971 Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo disclosed decisions about war-making. Diclosure to anti-war congressman and reporters of the New York Times and the Washington Post of the Pentagon Papers, formally, history of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-1968. The government sought an injunction against publication in the New York Times. The Supreme Court confirmed the first instance court’s decision to deny the injunction against the New York Times. Ellsberg was prosecuted but the case was dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct. Russo’s indictment was dismissed in the same process.

The New York Times, June 13, 1971

New York Times vs. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 30 June 1971

Improper government conduct in the administration of justice, FOOTNOTE 134

Illegality of abroad interventionnism in war situations

Samuel Loring Morison, former naval intelligence analyst

1984 Samuel Loring Morison disclosed satellite images of a Soviet aircraft carrier under construction to the magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly. Morison was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison under the Espionage Act. Later pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001, largely on Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan concern that The Espionage Act had been applied erratically and inconsistently.

In 2014, Morison was convicted of stealing government property from Navy Archives in Washington DC. The’ documents named Office Files of Rear Admiral Morison Papers’ included a 15-volume history of World War II commissioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The records were indeed all related to his grandfather, a prominent historian whose biographies on Christopher Columbus and John Paul Jones were awarded the Pulitzer Price. Morison pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to two years of probation.

Morison vs. U.S., 486 U.S. 1306 (1988)

Classified historic material, patrimony heritage and intelligence classified material

a999jesselynradack_2050081722-297212002 Jesselyn Radack disclosed information to the press that suggested that the prosecution of John Walker Lindh (the ‘American Taliban’) was tainted by violation of Lindhs right to counsel and that the prosecution removed documents that would have established those violations at Lindhs trial. DOCUMENTS NOT CLASSIFIED COVERED BY ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE. *exposed improper government conduct in the administration of justice.* WAR PROSECUTIONS

 franklin-070209-14257236472003 Lawrence Franklin conveyed classified documents about US policy towards Iran to employees of AIPAC. 30 years sentence REDUCED to ten months of house arrest. INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY AND (economic, geopolitical?) POLICIES, CHECK DOCS

5550v60252004 Thomas Tamm and Russ Tice disclosed the existence of a program found to be illegal and in violation of basic constitutional rights prohibition on warantless searches. Neither was prosecuted


William Binney, Retired Technical Director, NSA. Kirk Wiebe, Retired Senior Analyst, NSA

2004 William Binney, Kirk Wiebe, Ed Loomis et Diane Roarke NSA employees House of Intelligence Committee employee INTERNAL WHISTLEBLOWING objections that the communications surveillance system that NSA bought, Trailblazer was substantially more expensive and less respectful of civil rights than an in-house system developed by Binney. Nothing was disclosed to the press but the employees were bullied and suffered from abuse united-states-of-secrets-i-15investigation and punishment by process. edloom

 thomasdrake2004-2005 Thomas Drake NSA employee who supported Binney. Drake discussed fraud and waste with a Baltimore Sun Reporter. Indicted under Espionnage Act, was prosecuted, pleaded guilty though there were no proof of disclosure of classified information. EXAMPLE OF ABUSE OF PROSECUTION

kleinp2006 Mark Klein AT&T employee disclosed that AT&T had voluntarily complied with NSA requests to monitor Internet communications. unclassified technical documents whose national security meaning became apparent only on the context of their use in connection with the installation of a secret room within the AT&T facility

jeffrey2006 Jefferey Sterling leaked details of a successfull operation of the CIA to feed defective information to Iran¨s nuclear weapon program. Debate related to involvement of the journalist in the prosecutions not only the leakers. Sterling argues that he never leaked information about Iran nuclear weapon program to the journalist, was sentenced.

091221_shamai_liebowitz_ap_2182009 Shamai Leibowitz, FBI translator, leaked transcripts of intercepted calls to a blogger, claims that disclosures were intended to expose FBI illegal acts, pled guilty to a lesser offence was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, justice had not full access to documents, DOCUMENTS RELATED TO TRAFIC D,INFLUENCE STRATEGIC GEOPOLITICAL DECISIONS, *the authorconsiders case similar to Snowden for claims of illegality

 stephkim2009 Stephen Kim leaked conversation suggesting that North Korea was about to test the nuclear bomb, pled guilty, 13 months imprisonment, REPORTER ALSO PROSECUTED IN THIS CASE

kiriakou2007\2012 John Kiriakou UNINTENTIONAL DISCLOSURE OF IDENTITY OF CIA AGENT, 13 months imprisonment, had previously leaked details about CIA torture program for which he was not prosecuted. * exposed improper government conduct in the administration of justice

chelsea-manning2010 Chelsea (Bradley) Manning leaked several thousand reports (war logs) from units in Iran and Afghanistan and 250 000 State Department embassy cables to Wikileaks. Several potential violations of human rights or laws of war were disclosed. The embassy cables however disclosed potential violations by the goverments of other countries but not by State Department or the US government itself

‘’Considering the sentences in the cases of Morrison, Leibowitz, KIriakou and Kim, (much less Franklin) Manning thirty-five years sentence was overwelmingly excessive by comparison to any prior leak to the media’’, footnote 183, p. 41

 Yochai BENKLER, A Public Accountability Defense for National Security Leakers and Whistleblowers, 8(2) Harvard Review Law & Policy, July 2014, pp. 32-33


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