Pulitzers affirm public service of whistleblowers

An editorial from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Ever since “Deep Throat” (FBI Associate Director Mark Felt) furtively told reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about hidden White House sleaze — eventually sending many Nixon administration officials to prison and driving the president from office — we have admired “leakers” who bring dirty government secrets to light.

We felt the same when Daniel Ellsberg, a military intelligence contractor, leaked the infamous “Pentagon Papers” showing that President Johnson had deceived America about prospects for victory in the Vietnam War, and that he continued sending young Americans to their deaths in a doomed cause.

Democracy is supposed to be transparent so citizens know what their leaders and bureaucrats are doing. But some who wield government power hide ugly information from the people. That’s when covert inside whistleblowers perform a valuable public service by letting sunshine break through the curtain.

Pfc. Bradley Manning was a tormented young soldier craving a sex change, when he funneled 750,000 secret military and diplomatic memos to WikiLeaks — and triggered a global storm. Revelations about odious leaders helped trigger the “Arab Spring” uprisings that toppled several Muslim dictators. Manning was threatened with execution and drew 35 years in prison — but we think he’s a sad hero who let Americans know the truth.

Edward Snowden was a former CIA employee and intelligence contractor who leaked nearly 2 million inside records showing massive surveillance of phone calls, emails, faxes, text messages and other communications by the National Security Agency (partly utilizing huge Navy satellite dishes at Sugar Grove, Pendleton County). This revelation jolted the Obama White House…

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