tv History of U.S. National Security Whistleblowing CSPAN March 9, 2019 8:55pm-10:00pm EST
monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2. up next on american history tv, the university of missouri's kinder institute on constitutional democracy hosts a conversation on the history of national security whistleblowing in the u.s. british scholar and author eten mistry arguings the during the reased vietnam war. the kinder institute's chair, jay sexton takes part in the discussion. it's about half an hour. >> welcome to tonight's conversation on the history of national security whistleblowing. we're on to have tv tonight so i'll going to be a little bit more formal. my name is jeff hadley, director
of the kinder institute. founded in 2014, the kinder institute is a joint project between the university of missouri political science and history departments in cooperation with other scholars across campus. it's dedicated to research, community and student engagement on thought in political history. our goal is to prepare students for the future of american democracy by equipping them with knowledge of its past. it was created by a generous gift of the kinders of houston, texas. these are difficult times for the humanities and social sciences but america clearly, clearly needs them more than ever so we feel quite lucky to have alumni that do appreciate these things. r hope is to find american
democracy as the founders intended it but more than that. we want to understand our shortcomings as well as its accomplishments. the changes as well as the eternal truths and finally, we want to model what we think of as the true spirit properly understood and that spirit is working intellectually towards enlightenment, liberty, and justice for all and renewal of our democracy through searching inquiry and vigorous discussions such as we are about to have. at least i home. ur guest is professor kaeten mistry and my colleague jay sexton. fellow corpus christi and ox farmed university. but currently here in the
history department in missouri. but i want to turn it over to jay. >> thanks, everyone. really excited about this conversation in part because of the guy i'll be conversing with is one of the coolest guys in the profession. kaeten mistry from the university of east ainge galea. but he got his ph.d. in the university of birmling ham in central england. 's been a visiting fellow at several places. kaeten is a scholar of the 209 century and in particular of u.s. foreign relations. u.s. intelligence, international relations and the cold war. i highly recommend his book, pub accomplish -- published by cambridge university press a couple of years ago entitled
waging political warfare, united states, italy and the origins of the cold war. here in missouri when we think of election in 1948 we think, of course, of trulyen and duwey and we think of famous newspaper of dewey defeats truman from the chicago naup but kaeten tells of another important election in 1948 which canner informative to the politics of the ensuing cold war. talk at we're here to about is not the cold war. we're here to talk about a project that is just coming to an end, a project of -- on whistleblower, when he did joint we're going to hear about this
project, its genesis, its significance, and its applications to us today. i just wanted to say one thing about it is a prefatory comment. by in this'm struck project is that it did not just engage with a range of scholars, historians and political scientists and all that. they also engage with officials in government, with important indeed withs, whistleblowers themselves. conference, edward snowden made a virtual appearance. we might hear about that in a minute. today, are going to do it will be a free-flowing conversation. i will ask serious questions, and then we will open it up in a half hour or so. as you have heard, if you could i will point you
down and if you could make your way to the mike, so the questions can be heard by all, it would be really appreciated. so let's give a warm missouri welcome. [applause] thanks, and thanks everyone for coming out. great to be here in missouri, great to be back. the very first time i took some archival research was down the road at the truman library. it remains to this day one of the friendliest and nicest places that you can do archival research. it is also fitting that we are talking about this topic here. in part, because the two men run library is truman down the road from the eisenhower library.
two administrations that played a role in the post-1945 international order, and also the nature of the modern u.s. national security state, including the regimes of secrecy and classification of information. these are terms used quite frequently, but these are very modern developments. we talking that the early 1950's. as jay said, we have been working on this project for the last couple of years. genealogy oft the national security whistleblowing , but also secrecy itself there have risen to power in the 20th the incidents that have developed at some of the way it has been in that bureaucracy. thing about origins, evolution, and some of the contested
labels. national security whistleblowing. pick up the newspapers, turn on the tv, there are daily headlines. i think we often take these terms for granted. a universalere is understanding about what they mean and where they come from. one of our objectives is to trace this, because they do not emerge ineffective -- in a vacuum. they have had important ramifications for u.s. law in terms of the political structures around our social security, but also debates about executive authority. another one of the goals is trying to move beyond the binary ways that national security whistleblowing has been broken down.
thinking particularly of this idea that a whistleblower is either a hero or a traitor, which is something that comes up repeatedly. trying to move beyond that in a but also beyond other broader questions of whistleblowing is sort of a remedy the ills of democracy, excessive state secrecy or abuses. but also, moving beyond this idea that whistleblowing is an existential threat. these issues of national and the whistleblowing state are curiously intertwined during the 20th century. security, accountability, the right to know, but also first amendment questions regarding freedom of beach and freedom of the press. topics are, these
considered to be highly partisan. but when you trace this issue back overtime, particularly the 20th century, it shows otherwise. of theseles some political ideologies and party divisions, particularly times that we live through. president and president trump share very little, but one of the things they do have in common is their approaches to these questions. project, and this is a live topic, or whistleblowing, the stories have evolved. bitell us just a little about the journey from when you start the project to where you are i'm now. -- are at now. >> my work has revolved around the u.s. foreign relations, particularly the exercise and projection of u.s. power.
some of the tensions the come about, but also attempts to resist u.s. power. much of my early work considered that in an international and transnational expected. but they're starting to trace them how they come back to the united states. but is finishing up a couple other projects, i came across some records and material on earlier, most prominent cases of whistleblowing. i was looking through this material thought that this would have the makings of scholarly work. but these issues sharpen in the context in the new wave of whistleblowing that emerges after 9/11 towards the lake to thousands.
a number of episodes in cases emerge. palmistry, chelsea manning. of course, edward snowden. tracking this in the news, i was struck by the uncanny betweennce and overlaps what was playing out now and in the 1960'sning and 70's. so starting today a little bit deeper. issues arehat these rooted not just in the 60's and 70's, but back to the early 20th century. this phenomenon of whistleblowing, looking at it in more depth, it was realizing that actually sheds light on key aspects of american power, overt and covert from involvement in
world war i through world war ii , the cold war to modern-day conflicts in iraq and afghanistan. but also covertly from secret code breaking to covert ofrations taken by the cia to the modern surveillance state. that's how i arrived at this project. there is a long history of whistleblowing, but there's not really a historical consciousness of it until recently. in many ways, you are creating a notory of some that has itself been identified by history. what is that like, being the first try to peace the puzzles together? >> there has been a challenge. how do you write on something on which there is no literature? no established, coherent also, there is no
fixed meaning as well. there are competing definitions, if you will. archive, youo an are very unlikely to find whistleblowing in index cards. it is very hard to locate whistleblowing. that poses a challenge. however, i think the way that we have charged to approach this to think of phenomenon and identify key characteristics is not just looking for the term whistleblower, but what it represents. , we have found that national security whistleblowing actually has a long genealogy. familiar patterns now emerge. can be broken down into a series
of steps. firstly, the revelation of privileged information by a state insider, often to the press. secondly, this is a form of dissent that invokes public interest. the individual often authenticates the information being exposed, not always, but often. the response of the state of the u.s. government condemns this as it looks tozed prosecute the individual, and that is pretty indiscriminately across the board. in the public debate whistleblowers are either heroes or as patriot condemned. and the questions about legitimacy of disclosure
structure to overtake considerations of the context of these revelations. a pattern that has repeated from the early 20th century to the present and has consistent. no doubt, the next case will follow that pattern as well. >> an interesting pattern and dynamic. it had you distinguish whistleblowers from other terms? what is the difference between whistleblowing and a leak? there is a national security dimension to it? or is that itself historically contingent? level, iery simple would say whistleblowing is the exposure of privileged insider information challenging the state's quote within an organization.
you could probably break that down. one is the release of information by an organizational defender. a disclosure to correct a wrong, mostly kept in-house. most cases of whistleblowing fall into that category. the second one, the one that is probably the most famous is the public defender, the disclosure in the plasmid -- public interest that is exposing some sort of illegal behavior or crime. -- the objective is to reform, but the responsibility is to society. but who is a whistleblower, what is the national interest is these are highly contentious and
contested terms and concepts. national security overlaps with other forms of whistleblowing in the corporate sector, but the fact that it involves state secrets, classified but also not classified, or unclassified information, is what places it in a different category. mentioned that we've been working with a lot of different people in the course of this project. people, lawyers, whistleblowers, officials, representing very complex issues. down to very suggestive judgments about what is the public interest. you mentioned leaking as well. question, interesting because you see leaks in the newspaper all the time. the concepts of leaking and
whistleblowing are often conflated, but it is important to separate them. leaking is anonymous, highly political, and very rarely if these are what i would say are the key characteristics which differentiated. it is a mainstay of the relationship of the present state. it happens every day. and there is a lot of work after that shows the nature of senior think abouteaking the historic examples of the , the source for woodward and bernstein uncovered the watergate. time wasat, for a long only known in 2005 that his identity was revealed.
it was always assumed that he was acting in the public interest, but in fact, he was driven more by personal ambition. that case, there were public benefits, but fundamentally that was an anonymously -- anonymous leak. >> we have to ask about the term itself. the term is a wonderful distinction. invokes the image of a referee as an impartial official trying to stop and say look at what is happening, rules are being violated. how far back does the term itself go? that a mid-20th century during -- thing? the term itself comes from the whistle, a modern icon. popularized in the
20th century, but the whistle as an image comes about in the late 19th century. it is, as you say, a tool for calling public attention to some form of wrongdoing. the late 1880's back in the u.k., you have a manufacturer of whistles based in birmingham in the united kingdom, where i did my phd who creates a whistle which wins the competition at the metropolitan police force have launched for creating whistles for bobby's on the beat to communicate with each other. patrolling the streets. most soccer games are efficient by this. >> and football. >> that is where one of the major uses the late 19th century.
police and sport. this idea that the whistle is upholding the rules and regulations. it appears now and then and literature, occasionally in politics. but the real selling point is the 1970's. whistleblowing starts to crystallize. the idea of a liberal philosophy and a movement for legal reform. individuals is ralph nader, five-time presidential candidate. ralph nader plays a crucial role in popularizing whistleblowing as a term and a concept. he is looking to inspire a havere where professionals a duty to the public
transcending the bosses, and he is calling on traditions of civil disobedience. the principle of whistleblowing starts to gain a lot of traction in the 1970's, but as we , the questionse of who is a whistleblower and the ethics of disclosure remain in flux. there is a variety of whistleblowing. with nader, it was about business and the corporate world , rather the state what we now associate with national security issues. tell us a little bit more about national security, whistleblowing, when that starts. national security whistleblowing is distinct from the kind of whistleblowing that toer initially started sketch.
what differentiates it is the kind of information known as national defense information. some of it is classified, but there are also parts that are .ot classified we talk about whistleblowing as a term, but national security is a very modern term. the national security state emerges under harry truman in 1947 concept of defending the nation. the bureaucratization of national security really starts to take hold in the early 20th century. seem you also have to step back and think about personal secrets. well, what is a secret? a secret confidential information. that notion has been around since the idea of time.
secrecy itself is as old as the state and is a particular feature of the bureaucratic state. a legal regime of state secrecy, that is where the truman and eisenhower administration are particularly important in giving shape. there were no laws related to the protection of defense information before the 20th century but there is growing concern is the united states acquires territories and sets up military installations in the caribbean and pacific. he had a greater diplomatic corps situated abroad. there is concern of how this information is protected. why is it that the u.s. had so
late, it is rooted in the tradition of open government. typically, the constitution precludes rules you have any vast majority of countries coming clean my own weather is an official secrets act. official secrets protect state secrets protect information. but an official secrets act is precluded by the u.s. constitution because it impedes on first amendment right to have got an interesting sort of tension here at play. >> so the united states is little late to the game at protecting state secrets. of course, there is a legitimate need an imperative for national security apparatus protecting information. when do you see this change happen? this is a first world war or second world war type?
you have new espionage act and so forth? the key bit of the story ? you mentioned the espionage act and that is crucial. the world war i era espionage act in 1970 while the u.s. does not have an official secrets act, it has an ad hoc system. contributors to the project is the book that we are .ublishing covers the espionage act and its evolution into the mid-20th century. it is world one era legislation to clamp down on german spies and espionage, hence the name.
but soon of all those into a measure that classifies, it is a classification. that is how the life of all the curious ways. and we need to go back to the woodrow wilson administration. wilson asked congress to pass a bill to protect confidential one of the earliest proposals that winston puts itward essentially says that rests all authority in the presidency, who decides what a secret, what's in the national interest, and is able to prosecute people for disclosing that it. >> congress and the press reviews, the kick up a fuss. moving forward, the compromise struck is one which holds true for the rest of the 20th century. the state can keep secrets, the press is free to publish that information.
all good and well. the only way such information can reach the press is true government employees, and that is where the legal burden falls on whistleblowers. it is the key tool used to prosecute whistleblowers all the way from the first instance in the 1930's off a guy called herbert yardley all the way to laster -- last year. the espionage act is deeply flawed. situation whereby the disclosure of national security information is criminally informationithout about what information fell under. legaler words, it was the to expose secrets, but there is no depth -- definition is what counted as a secret. is where the contemporary
era and the other administrations are really important. >> did that sort of problem gets sorted out? this and that an early formative moment? for national state and security being defined and its powers being protected the various types of activities? essentially, the creation of the modern secrecy regime by bitan provides a little essentially fills the gap by the espionage act. it introduces the modern formal .lassification system there significantly, standardize handling practices.
unauthorized handling or sharing of information could be prosecuted through the espionage act. noncompliance through disclosure. especially, that is the system that continues to the present day. whatrucial issue here for we are talking about is that this classification system emerges out of executive orders. it is not rooted in statute. there are not laws, congress does not pass rules on this. these are presidential decrees. the modern secrecy regime is essentially an executive project , which raises important questions about constitutional democratic tradition of the u.s.. key aspects of the modern national security state in the unilateral executive decisions. it has been largely backed by congress and the courts. we can go to the mechanics of
classification, that is a whole different era. but in short, agencies will classify information in-house, by themselves, and there is very little reason historically not to classify the information. this called him over classification taken root and been a political issue that every administration has said they would like to reverse, but it continues to the present. >> it is interesting. the power of the executive is growing over time. it is quite fitting you have that flurry of whistleblowing in the 1970's as the executive is going to turn. -- through turmoil. discredited by the actions of the nixon administration and watergate. does that also explained this slurry of whistleblowing and is that when the modern story begins? >> yeah, i think you hit the nail on the head.
the late 1960's encapsulate the crises of that era, encapsulated by watergate, but also vietnam. the collapse of the cold war consensus. sucked have greater understanding and revelations about u.s. wars abroad, but also activities of a covert nature. cia operations around the world of destabilization. not just for in government, but activities at home. and like sponsorship of the national students association. there is this notion that some of these practices of the national security state which is assumed to take place abroad are also coming home. the 70's are a particularly important time because you have a raft of important and iconic cases, the most important of which is undoubtedly daniel ellsberg and the pentagon
papers. this historic study of u.s. involvement in vietnam. studyis a vast historical which in essence showed the gap between what u.s. officials said and what they did in vietnam. what they said privately, and publicly. the u.s. is getting deeper and deeper into vietnam, and u.s. officials have a lot of reservations, they continue to paint some very positive terms. case is iconic on a number of levels and particularly important in national in the context of national security whistleblowing because it can clarify some of the legal questions around exposing national security information in the public interest. trial because of
shenanigans in the nixon administration with regards of the same thing that broken into the watergate, and his case that was famously thrown out of court. that oftenhe things hearers against whistleblowing is it will be contagious. once there is one whistleblower that has released information becoming a celebrity, others will seek to follow suit. was that the case with ellsburg in the 1970's or were these really separate incidents? >> no. 1970's, you have a host of national security whistleblowers. many are in the cia. there is more consistency and the 1970's than in other generations, but some individuals are inspired by what ellsberg did. others rejected the idea of
taking classified information and putting it in the public realm. there is an interesting point here that goes back to the isionage act and why it being used to prosecute whistleblowers. it ensures that the handling of information is crucial. this is what separates the u.s. in the use of the espionage act and the countries that have an act, and alsonts means that the united states has indiscriminately attacked whistleblowers of all political stripes. john dickerson in the 1950's, and these are very small veryents, but they are interesting because they are all individuals releasing information to improve and enhance american power.
there is not civil disobedience. none of these are successful. the u.s. government is not able to successfully prosecute through the espionage act. coming back to the 1970's again in terms of this boon. it poses a challenge for the state because unlike ellsberg, many of the individuals are not releasing classified information. they are talking about experiences, trade craft when it comes to intelligence, and they start to write books. that makes it incredibly difficult for the u.s. government if they do not want to go to court and have a potentially embarrassing consequence as occurred with regards to ellsberg. andstart to see a shift, the importance of nondisclosure agreements, and the secrecy agreement that really starts to come to the floor.
it up to to open questions, but first, we have to ask about the 21st century. this long view of whistleblowing and how does it help us understand what is happening now? whynt to understand there has been this rash of whistleblowing in the last decade or so. you have these two decades with this boon in whistleblowing -- vietnam and back in the 1960's and 1970's, and the war on terror post-9/11. these methods i brought in were effective in clamping down, publication on the of books, but the whistleblowers today are no longer writing books.
the issue is about the sharing of data, particularly with journalists and publishers. someone like daniel ellsburg who spent months and months photocopying the papers before passing it to "the new york times." we are talking about very different information landscapes. again,blowers are cognitive by the espionage act. whistleblowers are in the crosshairs, but also, journalists. it poses important questions with regards to the first amendment. returning to that issue of the first amendment and free speech. >> great. let's open it up to questions. exampleestion, set the
and go over to mic so everyone can hear, and can get a little queue going. hello. i am curious if you can expand on what you think would be a better system of classification i the government, because know you mentioned that there is a problem with overclassification. how can you protect state secrets but also make sure that you are not over classifying information? >> ok. question wonderful which numerous administrations have tried to tackle. ever since the 1950's, there have been attempts to try to reduce the amount of information that is classified. there have been a number of significant investigations in congress about how you try to reform the classification system.
answers no simple [laughter] but one thing i would say is the national security state has grown exponentially from the 1950's to present day. with that has, in influx -- come an influx of new agencies but also personnel. most people have some sort of access to classified information. yearswas a report a few ago that said almost 5 billion people in the united states have some sort of classification -- access to classified information. that shows you the scale. have access toe some sort of secret, it begs question of what is the secret. does not include the millions of people who have access through contractors. orld, in manyw
ways, it is a revolving door between the national security establishment and the private sector. it is what eisenhower famously warned of in his farewell address, the military-industrial complex. this idea that the state and the private corporations and entities that work with the state for national security is a growing entity that needs to be carefully checked. question,f the reform there is a vast literature that has try to address that, but there has never been a convincing case made to show the complexity and the difficulty of it. what i would say is just a scale of the number of people who have it and how you resolved that
will probably begin by trying to thece the number of -- number of people who have access. it like that, it is uprising that it is not more whistleblowing. 5 million people -- that might be the headline story. we have another question. >> thank you for the talk. you mentioned how so many people have access to all of the sensitive information. and you mentioned briefly snowden's case. what do you see as the next evolution in whistleblowing, and will that have any implications for democratic government? can your pb end of your question please? >> sure. evolution ine next whistleblowing having any implications for democratic government?
mr. mistry: that is a great question. there is a large body of literature in the social sciences that considers whistleblowers and the tangible political changes that have resulted, that have come about. influentialmost ones conclude that they have had and if wee impact think about the most famous instances like ellsberg and snowden, ellsberg was trying to end the vietnam war. did he accomplish that? no. measure the impact of these is sort of disclosures that she goes beyond a formative, political one.
what they did is star a public discussion about issues of importance. it is what governments are doing for the public good so thinking not ad, whistleblowing is stable form of government accountability. that should not be and cannot to be the only way that the state is held accountable. congress and the press have a key role here and in many ways, the reason why there have been so many whistleblowers, you can make the case that congress and the press have not exercised sufficient oversight of the executive. there. this is very, very interesting. the agee apropos for we live in. thank you.
you mentioned that this is essentially underlined by the and unauthorized this closure, and that implies within a that there is a desire to correct a wrong, which implies that the whole thing boils down to some sort of ethical or moral quandary. i am wondering, i was thinking about how that fit in with the idea of democracy and transparency being a key component and how that developed , specifically in the middle of the 19th century with the rise in the democratic state. somewondering, is there sort of basis in the literature or in the thinking, or the 19thsophers of the century and which this ethical dilemma as being addressed? mr. mistry: yeah. as a goal question is one that
has not been addressed in the literature around whistleblowing and the politics of disclosure. there is some great work in the middle of the 20th century, philosophers like one who is writing in the aftermath of the pentagon papers. ofther strand which sort touches upon this but in a different context would be in progressive era lawyers. about later associate for the supreme court, br andeis, who is bringing about a new age of lawyers who are thinking about the public of andthe public good interests which are antithetical to individuals.
there are progressive era ethical moral considerations within those sort of discussions, but whether that translated to some of these issues in 1970's is less clear. there are inspired individuals like ralph nader who is following in the tradition of public interest law. lawyers the kind of working around nader are new public interest harkening back to their late 1890's and the early 20th century. this is overlapping with transparency, government as a way to move beyond to move beyond many of the corrupt practices that you see in the corporate world and considered being in the context of state and government as well. it is an area that requires a lot more work, and as fickle and
moral one. particularly we are talking about whistleblowing and the subjectivity. one possible to know is another person's right to secrecy. >> thank you for a great talk. i guess this question was touched on to an extent. i was wondering, it is a sort of about the importance of whistleblowing. it has a huge impact in the , thec imagination to whatd names, but extent is actually changing and reforming the system for either side? establishments which is in favor for secrecy, or the libertarian to open up government
transparency -- do you think it is a priority for either side and you think it is a particularly live political issue? a broadhere is consensus about maintaining , what are the stakes? and is the conflict attention that you are examining as to where this project goes in contemporary effects? mr. mistry: yeah. the possibility of reform, that is something a lot of political commentators have turned their attention to. it is focused on the espionage act, whether reform is possible. me attempts ton soe sketch out how that may work.
whether that is possible, i am less optimistic than others, primarily because the espionage act, while imperfect, it does get around this issue of how the united states is able to deal with the need for secrecy without having an act or bill contradict theo competition. to perhapsttempts modify on the margins for the political classes with regards to the transparency movements. the espionage act is something that would have to be scrapped. that is an argument often made. i do not see that happening, personally, and there is very little political consensus, not just now, but under the obama and bush administration
suggested that there is very little likelihood of that happening. in a roundabout way, it also encourages or facilitates more whistleblowing. there is very little opportunity reform, and i think this phenomenon will continue. just looking for a little bit more historical context. are there any norms for behavior ofrends in whistleblowers before and after , do they their leaks routinely act in a certain way or take certain steps before after? i am curious about history. mr. mistry: thanks. it touches on the point of the question of motives as well. that is a point that needs to be
underlined. homogenous, there is not an archetypal whistleblower if ul. it is very dependent -- if you will. it is very dependent and changes over time. ideological and factors. -- in ideological factors. in terms of if there is some sort of common characteristic, whistleblowers invariably begin as believers in the american global mission. small a broadly conservatives outlook. there'll will be a transformation from an insider to dissenter. this rarely equates to a clear political conversion. some move away from the ideology
to question broader issues about beliefs and apparatus, while endear to the american mission and seek to enhance policy. fitzgeralde ernest who was a prominent whistleblower in the 1960's, and more recently, stephen kim. generalizeng to i think actually falls apart under closer historical scrutiny. but it is an excellent point. you are telling the history of whistleblowing by tracing it to the evolution of the national security state and the surprisingly continuous legal legalure, primitive structure over time, and it is
fascinating thinking about it. i was just wondering if you were to put two different themes at the middle of the story, as it the same or different. the first of be at technology and communications and the role of the media, attitudes towards the media, etc. over time, would that change a story in any fundamental way? and the related question would be to think about the culture and cultural evolution. when we are describing the dynamic and recurring pattern of ofteneblowers who seems, times, with good intention, take a controversial act, but then debate --of the ellsburg, this is about the vietnam war and its origins, this was about the exercise of u.s. power abroad and national security of policies, and so into questions
about edward snowden, the person. ellsberg, the psychiatrist, and so forth. suggest that coulter is a key driver in dynamic of is a keyy -- culture driver in dynamic of the story. are ally, they intertwined and everything matters, i just wondered if emphasis was placed in a different way, if the story of the history of whistleblowing would look different than it does. mr. mistry: yeah. there are two key aspects of the story. people got some great who are working on these questions of the media journalism, but also the cultural and what i would say in media -- how much it easier it is to pass information that was back in the but there is another angle and that is the relationship between the press and the state. of thethe key components
cold war consensus in the 1940's very950's was it was a consensual relationship between very prominent publishers and key journalists and senior policymakers in washington. it was aetown set, fine book published on this quite recently. this comes up against a new wave of journalism, particularly in the 1960's and 1970's. as the cracks in the cold war consensus start to show. you have a new way, the likes of bernstein, seymour hersh -- a tradition to go back to the and 1890's,era, 20th century, who are more confrontational with regards to power. more skeptical about power.
the role of the media and their relationship with state elites is starting to change. that is played out as well in the 20th century when you think for the caseupport for war in iraq. that quite quickly changed as further information came about. when you got to a cultural point, absolutely. the difficulty to understand many of these issues means that for many people, we understand -- understanding turns to fiction, film, culture. and tvber of movies series that talk about these questions of espionage, or secrets, spying, or intelligent, they are numerous. choose your subscription whether it is netflix or whatever, there are so many series out there.
in many ways, we base our understanding. the reason why somebody like edward snowden is understood by many people are they would have the understanding of what a whistleblower is is rooted in e's cultur imagination. we have a wonderful essay that talks about this and the cultural importance of whistleblowing. i should say when i told my class today that i was going to have a conversation and i whistleblowing, said edward snowden, and immediately there was a resonance. there is a rich tradition of whistleblowing and britain. i just wondered if whistleblowing is an international phenomenon. something that the united states is flying a
formative role in spreading or of this is a separate? the british example is interesting because there have not been as many whistleblowers as the united states and it goes back to this question of very different secrecy regimes. one of the few british whistleblowers who became quite prominent was a lady called katharine gunn who was a in the u.k.r equivalent of the national security agency. one of the few who was able to make revelations that quite secret in the u.k. is nipped in the bud by the act. but there is a larger conversation taking place in the advocacy community. we have been talking about many people in that community as a part of our project, and the how --crecy regime and
the whistleblower protection community that has emerged and developed is informing some of that are taking place in the european union for example, but also other countries. there is a sharing of information in the advocacy contextut the u.s. remains somewhat different because of those constitutional questions. one more question. -- mr. sexton: one more question. >> this is related to the last question. you talked about our lack of a , and yourets act alluded to the prosecution of whistleblowers and how the sb is -- the espionage act used at whistleblowers. was one of you could expand on that.
wondering if you could expand on that. in the united states, prosecution through the espionage act revolves around the handling of the information and the dissemination of that, the passing of the information to people who do not have the authority to view that. they do not have the required permit for classified secret or top secret information. and the why espionage espionage act remain important, because they remains rooted in the idea of the dangerous sharing of information which could undermine public security. the difference with the official secrets act is that in a country like the u.k., the information itself is protected. of there is threat disclosure, that information is quarantined essentially, and it
cannot to be published. even of an ordinary member of the public or a publisher gets their hands on it, they are required to return it. that is the key difference. we had his conversation with a journalist not long ago who has done a lot of work on whistleblowing both in the u.k. and u.s. and has relied on the whistleblowers, and despite struggles to report on whistleblowers in the u.k., he commented that it is in the u.s.etter than in the u.k. where it is almost impossible to understand what the state does, issues of national security are incredibly difficult, and a lot of people comes back -- a lot of it comes back to these different secrecy regimes. mr. sexton: let's all give our guest a warm thank you.
[applause] mr. mistry: thank you. you are watching "american history tv." this is only on c-span3. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> monday night on the communicators, fcc chair tom wheeler talks about his new book, from gutenberg to google. >> it is never the primary network that is transformative. ofis the secondary effects that network. it is how, for instance the printing press not only enabled allowed the renaissance to come out of northern italy. it is how the first high-speed network emma the railroad, created the industrial revolution. and how the first electronic
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