War on Whistleblowers
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War on Whistleblowers

2013, Society  -   46 Comments
Ratings: 8.60/10 from 308 users.

In the face of potentially life-threatening dangers, they dare to speak truth to power. They're the whistleblowers; the crusaders for truth who often stand as the lone link between corrupted corporate and governmental interests and the public's right to know. The stirring film War on Whistleblowers, directed by acclaimed documentarian Robert Greenwald, outlines the challenges and sacrifices faced by these tireless activists, and calls attention to their increasing importance in a society where the powerful are more omniscient and unregulated than ever before.

Thanks to the efforts of Edward Snowden, the role of the whistleblower has gained a level of prominence in our culture unlike anything we've witnessed since the Watergate era. The formation of sweeping national security structures in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks begat a new wave of permissiveness in how intelligence was collected. As illustrated in the top-secret materials released by Snowden, this intelligence gathering included unprecedented invasions of privacy and instances of highly questionable electronic surveillance practices.

The film spotlights the frightening storm which followed as a result of Snowden's actions in the form of a widespread government-sanctioned smear campaign. In the process, the public was urged to question whether Snowden was a patriot or a traitor.

"It's extremely dangerous in America right now to be right as a whistleblower when the government is so wrong," concedes Thomas Drake, a former senior executive of the United States National Security Agency and one of the film's chief interview subjects. Drake is joined in the film by a panel of additional distinguished subjects who know the perils of whistleblowing all too well, including Daniel Ellsberg, a military advisor who leaked highly sensitive government documents related to the Vietnam War in 1971, and David Carr, the late New York Times journalist who built a career embodying the virtues of truth and transparency.

Whether working to silence the flow of information from a lone wolf or an entire news media, the increasingly inhospitable environment which works to subvert the efforts of our modern-day whistleblowers leaves us all vulnerable. With impassioned clarity, War on Whistleblowers shows us that our freedoms, our rights, and our very way of life may be at risk without the benefit of their brave acts of public advocacy.

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46 Comments / User Reviews

  1. John McElroy

    Whistle blowers face job loss and harm it is risky to reveal company or government secrets. I believe ratting on somebody or entity should be dealt with on a case by case review. In Trumps case the information was quickly proven and he has now been impeached. Perhaps presidents in the future will be more cautious as a result of this Ukrainian thing and not abuse their powers.

  2. Alien

    Notice how propaganda sways people info making the word Whistle-blower into a bad and shameful word. Big Network news organizations seem to do this.

  3. Blabber_Mouth

    I have a friend, that, like Donald Trump, believes Edward Snowden should be executed. He actually told me that he didn't care if they intercepted all of his communications because he has nothing to hide!! Snowden responded when a reporter mentioned the same stupidity. He said (paraphrasing), saying you have nothing to hide is like saying you don't value your right to free speech because you have nothing to say. I guess when so many can't see the fact that these whistleblowers are true heroes, and look at them as major criminals, we really don't stand much of a chance. Of course, we're too stupid to be trusted with the truth, and it is just to keep us safe. We could have 6 - 8 terrorists rowing up on the shore of New Jersey in a canoe at any moment. It's for our own good. We just need to trust the government, since they've always done such a great job. We need to quit picking on the Lockheed-Martins, Raytheons, Halliburtons, and the many corrupt politicians, financiers of war, and other proponents of murder that are just trying to scratch out a modest living. It's sickening, and it seems that most of the decent people have finally had enough.

    1. Stella

      You know we have hit our ceiling as intelligent humans when telling the truth . . becomes an Act of Treason !
      . .................. George Orwell - 1984
      ( Now , the wheels of Mans existence here on Mother Earth start to grind to a stop , and we slowly start to reverse everything we have learned on this Planet since the beginning of mans existence here. The screeching of the reversing wheels is Deafening & Fatal for Humans ! It is happening NOW! The Mayans predicted the BEGINNING of the End Days, Not the actual Day ! Its all be going backwards since Dec 21. 2012 . Funny thing, that date. Its Winter Solstice BTW. Ive noticed " IT " picking up speed since then also. Havent You? People are becoming Totally INSANE!
      . . . . .
      . . . " The end of Civilization , will be caused by Civilization !"

  4. Fabien L

    For those interested in the current rules of the NSA digital data gathering programs, I highly recommend to google the following to find the February 9th 2015 PBS article.

    How the NSA Spying Programs Have Changed Since Snowden

    1. awful_truth

      Thanks for the heads up regarding the article Fabien. After reading it, it would seem that very little has changed. (why am I not surprised!)

    2. Fabien L

      My pleasure. I guess most all institutions are resistant to relinquish acquired powers notwithstanding them being needed or not.

    3. awful_truth

      Yes, it would appear that they can never be prepared enough for when they might have to snap/lose it!

  5. awful_truth

    A decent documentary that confirms what most of us should already know. (they shoot the messenger, and protect the criminals) After reading some of the comments below, I feel sorry for those who believe something that contradicts what they think they stand for.
    In reality, humanity is childlike; scared, and unsure of how to proceed. As social beings, we tend to abdicate our own responsibility to others for a sense of security. we have all become so wired in, we tend to ignore the fact that all our personal information, our desires, our concerns, and our weaknesses are a keystroke away. (all tracked by the NSA, and corporations alike)
    What is most important is when you can live a life where your actions are no threat to others, accepting your idiosyncrasies without fear of repercussions.
    I truly believe that anyone who isn't brainwashed understands the true difference between right and wrong, and the last place you will discover this is in the political, or judicial systems. If you question the powers that be, they can throw the weight of the entire system at you, making you feel guilty even when you haven't done anything wrong, and easily destroy you in the process, financially, and mentally.
    That is the real threat, and individuals like Edward Snowden are the courageous ones who remind us of the true nature of the world around us, (information) to think critically, and ask yourself if society is heading in the correct direction for the social beings that we are, and what we want to become. The awful truth is nothing is what it appears to be, and the next time you pass judgment based on innuendo, just remember; without people like him, we would not know the true nature of those we fund against our own well being! (taxes) take care, and best wishes everyone.
    P.S: For a far better more informative documentary, check out what others below have recommended. (United States of secrets)

  6. bluetortilla

    It occurs to me that cyberspace is the last sanctuary of freedom in this world, and that the likelihood that it too will come under attack in a very serious way is almost foregone. However I believe that methods of underground networking, even without a network of computers, have never been limited and I also believe that within the digital information frame we will always have a place to go, persecuted or not.

  7. alan

    misinformation... things everybody already knows (snowden)
    deflecting attention from more sinister issues,

  8. Lenny

    I'm with the NSA and CIA on this one. Snowden should stay in Russia, where he belongs.

    1. awful_truth

      So, your point is Snowdon belongs in Russia for exposing illegal and immoral behavior. Did I miss anything?

  9. FollowTheFacts

    ...why on earth has this documentary been given the highest score I've seen...? – ...I gave it five....it was scattered in every way...poor sound design...partially, at least, morally corrupt en "ethically challenged"....why do you folks believe it deserves the highest possible....?
    ...but you do and that forces me to realize that viewers and posters here don't deserve the respect I thought they did...
    I haven't seen CitizenFour yet, but I sure hope it's better...

    1. dmxi

      not all commenteers rate as do not all raters comment & from which to conclude from ratings to viewers is a bit of circular reasoning,my dear chap.
      ....& yes,citizen four is better than any doc that handles full circuit observations (dis-info job accomplished-dmxi-over & out-)

    2. Fabien L

      You misdirect your disrespect to viewers and posters, it should be directed at raters.

  10. Arlo

    If you liked this, check-out Frontline, United States of Secrets. on PBS.

    1. Fabien L

      I agree, United States of Secrets is a great documentary.

    2. MetalJoker

      I saw it & it was scary! Poor American people.
      I feel sorry for them. American people ARE the government, they aren't the enemy!

    3. awful_truth

      Yes, it was a great documentary, but I have to disagree with your position. The American people are not their government, and have very little say in how it operates. (illusion of democracy) While the people may not be the enemy, their naivety is!

    4. MetalJoker

      I haven't been to the U.S. but if you are, you're better on knowing them.
      To be honest, if the government are watching me all the time & I know I have nothing to hide, I could care less . BUT the people have the right to know & appose to it.

    5. awful_truth

      I am Canadian, but I have been to the U.S on many occasions. Generally speaking, the people are terrific. (as are Canadians) My primary concern for Americans is that their education and media tends to focus only on America,
      I completely agree with you that they have a right to know and oppose what their government is doing, but if they are never being told the truth, how can they possibly respond.
      Bringing them up to speed on the lies they are being fed from the highest levels of government is precisely what Edward Snowden attempted to do. In the documentary 'United States of secrets', high ranking NSA officials who refused to 'play ball' had their own lives turned upside down, and information fabricated against them.
      Ultimately, even if you don't have anything to hide, it will not protect those who merely ask the right questions.
      Ultimately, everyone in the world should have concern for this due to technological advancements, and should be at least aware (not scared) of the implications. God knows the mere idea of 'a threat' already has everyone supporting governments in clawing back the very rights their forefathers fought to have put in place for the protection of their children. In the final analysis, a true patriot must protect the people from their own government, which appears to be a far greater threat then from those abroad.
      Of course, all of this is just my opinion, and should be taken as such. My only intention is for the people to use critical thinking regardless of the source they are acquiring their information from, and to remember that greed is running the world, not morality.
      Take care, and best wishes MetalJoker!

    6. MetalJoker

      I totally agree on most of the points you've mentioned! Well done, indeed!

      I personally can compare Canadians as Americans ONLY when it comes to the American-English accent. Canadians are VERY nice people & be proud :)

      Well, you have made points that were very interesting & impressive.

      My point of view of Patriotism is that I will never be a patriot if I know that my government is hiding immense information on citizens. Nowadays most governments are following the method of being discreet when it comes to very important information that the people MUST know. Therefore, as long as they follow this act, Whistle-blowers will emerge unless they stop the "GANG-ACT" of hiding information & keeping it for themselves.
      The world is changing because of greed & gang-act of governments.

    7. Fabien L

      On Patriotism, surrendering your critical sense in favor of the love of a country doesn't serve the country in any meaningful way. Marching in the street, waving flags and qualifying your country as #1 is a total waste of time and closer to idolatry than patriotism.

      Patriots investigate, question the decisions of their institutions and propose improvements to the modus operandi of their government. In my opinion, the PBS Frontline journalists that worked on United States of Secrets are patriots.

    8. MetalJoker

      Yes, correct! Your point is so right! Marching on the street in one hand in an utter waste of time, money & effort. On the other hand, when journalists & TV programs such as PBS Fronlines, Al Jazeera Faultlines etc. revealing the truth they are pure patriots because they simply love the people to know the hidden & unheard or seen news & facts. John Pilger, is one journalist who made me love documentaries to the MAX and of course there are many more.
      To know there are people who will never vanish like those who want the truth to be seen or heard, is a great feeling.

    9. awful_truth

      Great words Fabien. I couldn't have said it better myself. Take care, and best wishes!

    10. awful_truth

      It is so nice to see people who are more interested in the truth, and morality, than defending inappropriate government actions. (I completely agree with everything you just said) Keep up the good work, hold your head high, and never let the buggers grind you down!

    11. MetalJoker

      Well, it is something in me that will never change. Obviously in you too.
      To be honest, I am honored to have chatted with you and the ones who had the same point of view or at least seemed like it :)

    12. awful_truth

      Yes, now if we could only get more people on the same page as us, imagine the possibilities!
      P.S: do you have a plan for deprogramming the masses? it would sure come in handy.

    13. MetalJoker

      Oh yeah, if more people only pay attention, we could get many to see the "Awful Truth" indeed.

      If you have a plan in mind I could help with that.

      P.S. From the way you talk, you are the best to know about deprogramming.

    14. awful_truth

      Thank you for the kind words Metaljoker. I don't know that I have a plan for deprogramming. I was merely lucky to have parents who promoted the idea of critical thinking, and allowed me the freedom to question everything without disdain, or persecution.
      P.S:Funny thing; my mother constantly reminded me that it was okay to think it, just don't say it, while my father would back me in fighting for what I believed to be right. (as I stated, I was very lucky)

    15. MetalJoker

      You being a person who is seeking truth is way to kind too! :)
      Well, lets just see how far could we get if none of us has a plan but I think it will come up someday.
      LOL your parents are truly awesome!! Stay the way you are!
      Fight for your rights & for the rights of the people as long as no one get hurts, unless you have to. This is life.

  11. dmxi

    snowden hasn't leaked 'jack' up to date that hasn't been known for years before. it was obvious how far reaching nsa's tapping was prior (since inslaw/promis scandal) to 'don quich-nowdens' incredible media stunt that seems like the sequel to wiki-leaks....& we all know the fruition of that amazing story which should've turned the tides of political reality ,don't we?

    1. a_no_n

      i'm with you on that one!

      Then you take into account people like that Merck guy who basicly just made a whole bunch of stuff up to get attention.
      And then of course there are the old classics like Alex Jones and David Icke, who consider their uninformed assumptions to be solid irrifutable fact.

      There are genuine whistleblowers out there, and they should be protected, but it should also be harder for quacks and cranks to take advantage of a title like this to further their paranoid fantasies.

    2. dmxi

      one just has to follow the trail of the dead to find true whistleblowers,like the british UN-inspector (his name eludes me) that they found dead after exposing saddams wmd's capability.

    3. DigiWongaDude

      David Kelly? Committed suicide (very sad chain of tragic events) when his name released to the press (over the notorious 45 minute intelligence report). They altered his intelligence findings to suit the push for war in Iraq - He was a man who prided his privacy, reputation and honor; not a whistle-blower per say? (That's from memory, without researching, so forgive me if I've got the facts slightly wrong).

    4. dmxi

      that's the one.....eerily they are all suicidal,drug addicts or catastrophic drivers,aren't they?cheers for helping to fill my blanks,digi .
      long time no see,mate....good to 'read you again;hope everythings good at your end?

    5. DigiWongaDude

      Thanks DMXI ...Dug a little deeper on this quickly, looks like you were right! :) He was indeed a whistle-blower (if unintentionally so).

      His contribution was revealing that the UK government 'probably knew' the intelligence was wrong (to a journalist) but he died after he was revealed as the source (through apparent government 'mishandling').

      His supposed 'suicide' (see Hutton Report) has become quite the conspiracy theory: murdered to silence him!?

    6. dmxi

      no one dares to say 'conspiracy' due to the 'praise' that accompanies that term.

    7. DigiWongaDude

      'This Title' is a Robert Greenwald production, Glenn Greenwald appears in it towards the end; the journalist Snowden first approached with the leak. "CitizenFour (2015)" tells the story in full as it happened (not easy to find quite yet), so I hardly think this one qualifies as a quacks and cranks production.

    8. a_no_n

      no you misunderstand, I mean the actual title of "whistleblower", i'm not knocking the documentary...i probably didn't make that clear.

    9. Sportsbruh

      I agree dmxi, Snowden's leak appeared planned; The NYTimes, WashingtonPost etc were writing about the NSA's intrusions into Everybody's emails, texts, phonecalls etc; for over a year

      Google, yahoo, sprint, verizon, at&t and all the others EXCEPT Mozilla Firefox fell down and linked up to the US government; just like this board - Aint that right NSA

    10. dmxi

      Let's not forget how the whole 'Snowden-script-soap-opera' was pompously prized with an Oscar, next to the (un-) patriotic propaganda of the american dream-story: 'the sniper',which just seems like a silly liberal wet dream.everyone applauds that 'heroic act' but don't give a diddly-squat to the implications as the Hollywood league of gents & ladies have been 'hacked' (i wonder by whom?) which gave us the delight of high profile voyeurism to 'who gives a shit' pictures.

    11. awful_truth

      I can guarantee you that Mozilla Firefox has been infiltrated whether they know it, or not. Expect the unexpected Sportsbruh, they have billions of dollars at their disposal that we gave them. (taxes) Even if they haven't succeeded, they soon will. Isn't that right NSA?

    12. awful_truth

      For those who are paying attention, (a small percentage) you are completely right. Ironically, the Michael Moore's of the world can be left alone and dismissed as conspiracy theorists. Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Julian Assange on the other hand, have exposed corporate America's true nature with their own facts, which is why they will hunt them down to the ends of the earth for upsetting their global pyramid scheme. (bringing the truth to light for vast majority who were not paying attention)
      Since most people have short attention spans, and feel helpless in the grand scheme, they are relatively safe from any serious damage. Their attacks of these people are merely a message to everyone else what will happen if you upset the applecart. This response is the norm regardless of which country you live in. Just ask the now deceased opposition leader of Russia, or Mordechai Vanunu for proving what everyone already knew regarding Israeli nuclear weapons. Suppostion, and innuendo (easily deflected) are minutiae compared to the hard, cold truth, and no one (I mean no one) is safe from this.
      Ultimately, courage, and stupidity go hand in hand which leaves us all with a simple choice. Stand for something, or fall for everything. I guess it just depends on what you truly believe regarding this life, and the possibilities (potentiality) there after. Take care dmxi, and keep up the great posting!

    13. dmxi

      cheers,mate for the kind words....which i can only return.