Do you have a right to privacy?
Thomas Drake continues to insist that you do. And he continues to pay a very high price for being a historic NSA whistleblower.
As 2019 began, we asked Tom for his thoughts on privacy in the USA now. We found his reply to be fascinating, and we’re sharing it with you below.
This new year presents an old question: Can we tangibly support brave whistleblowers whose lives have been nearly crushed by the vengeful “national security” apparatus of the U.S. government?
The answer is that we can and we must.
Whether or not the rare whistleblowers at places like the National Security Agency go to prison -- and Tom was prosecuted with the threat that he’d be in prison for the rest of his life -- a key official goal is to drive them close to the poverty line for the rest of their lives, deprived of pensions and rendered unemployable for all but low-paid jobs.
If you click here to support Thomas Drake as an NSA whistleblower who continues to speak truth to -- and about -- power, you can make a tax-deductible contribution. Whatever you can afford would be deeply appreciated. Half of every dollar you donate will go directly to Tom, while the other half will support the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign that he chairs.
Although Tom ultimately prevailed in court after a Kafkaesque ordeal that lasted years, the government completely wrecked his personal finances. (If you’re not familiar with his courageous stand on behalf of the Fourth Amendment, please see the links under “Background” at the bottom of this email.)
And now, here are some new comments from Tom Drake:
** What has happened to privacy in our post 9/11 national security world? Why is the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution so weakened by the acid of secret government surveillance powers and the commoditization of our personal data by corporate interests selling us out for profit and gain, and more often than not without our express consent?
** We live in the Digital Age with vast amounts of data collection on virtually every aspect of our personal lives. The tradeoff is the gradual erosion of our precious privacy rights, as so much of our lives are now increasingly captured by the yawning net of government and corporate surveillance with many troubling implications for our liberty, our freedom, and even democracy.
** There are no real surprises, but I do have ample grist for the “privacide” mill that I would like to share with you. Why? Our very individuality, our persons and even the essence of our everyday human “beingness” is at stake when the inalienable right to privacy is viewed by some as something to take away because it has such unique value.
** So, out of this “Grist for the Privacide Mill” -- featuring the National Security State, Surveillance, Privacy and You -- I have something for you all to chew on as a real live historical unfolding play on the stage of surveillance in all its many tentacled forms.
Scene 1: Enter abuse of state and corporate power from stage left and exit privacy and individual sovereignty stage right as eyewitnesses along that other dark underside arc of history.
And how can we resuscitate our inalienable rights to freedom and liberty?
Scene 2: Beyond just technology knowing where you are, there’s still largely underreported tracking with backdoor government access based on secret mass surveillance agreements as well as deeper metadata and content sharing on a vast scale.
Scene 3: Privacide conducted on such a mass scale, through real-time location information collected by apps on smart (or really tracking and surveillance) devices using unique data habits, where even “anonymized identifiers can often be reverse engineered and used to track individual people.”
Scene 4: Granting back door “exceptional access” to our electronic communications by secret state-sponsored actors or agents is just another euphemism and excuse for an anytime, all-the-time digital surveillance panopticon. Yet what good is encryption when they are swimming in our communication streams?
Scene 5: To answer at least the heart of the core question centered on the loss of privacy, and against this dystopian backdrop, I would like to share a panel discussion on whistleblowing only very recently made available on YouTube that took place at a Ron Paul Institute conference right across from Dulles Airport in northern Virginia back in September 2017, where I was one of the featured speakers.
I was one of the whistleblowers on the panel and gave a summary account of what happened to me, why it happened to me, the price I paid, and what we must do about the multiple threats to our individual sovereignty and liberty in the Digital Age of data and personal privacide.
You can watch and listen to me directly between minutes 39 and 1:09 and then hear some responses I also provided during the Q&A that followed, with some humor and lighter moments to provide some perspective and humanity.
PS from the RootsAction Education Fund team:
Truth-telling can be inspirational. Another NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has said: “If there hadn’t been a Thomas Drake, there couldn’t have been an Edward Snowden.”
Meanwhile, Tom Drake remains deeply in financial debt. Ironically, we are in his debt -- morally, politically and ethically. We owe him so much because he stood up for civil liberties and human decency.
Let’s continue to help repay that debt to Tom Drake, who exposed extreme mass surveillance by the NSA.
Living in what is supposed to be a democracy, we get vital information because of the courage of whistleblowers.
Tom Drake has no intention of going silent. He wants to keep writing, traveling and speaking out. But he needs our help.
Please make a tax-deductible contribution in support of his work.
Please share on Facebook and Twitter.
> Daily Beast: “U.S. Intelligence Shuts Down Damning Report on Whistleblower Retaliation”
> Freedom of the Press Foundation: “Beware of Trump Administration’s Coming Crackdown on Leaks -- and Journalism”
> Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Former NSA Executive Urges Public Vigilance Against Government Overreach”
> “The Constitution and Conscience: NSA’s Thomas Drake”: Video of speech on May 2, 2017
> The Washington Times: “Donald Trump on Edward Snowden: Kill the ‘Traitor’”
> Jesselyn Radack, The New York Times: "Whistleblowers Deserve Protection Not Prison"
> Jane Mayer, The New Yorker: Thomas Drake -- "The Secret Sharer"