A government is a body made up of a group of people that exercise authority over its citizens. Every government should make sure that every one of its citizens lives in an environment where all his or her human rights are respected, and where he or she has access to fairness and justice in all matters.
However, some people tend to carry out secret operations that are contrary to the law of the land, and they usually get away with their actions just because they are in government. Many of the secret operations run with the knowledge and sometimes approval of the highest office in the land, making it very hard for the law enforcement authorities to bring such crimes to book. Furthermore, owing to the nature of the crimes or the parties involved, the perpetrators of the heinous acts against the constitution make use of the highest law enforcement bodies to commit and often cover up their crimes.
Since no one in government can openly expose the above crimes because they might either lose their jobs or their lives, whistleblowers step up and fight for the rights of the citizens using information leaks. Information leaks are unsanctioned releases of information that is highly confidential, information that forces the government to conduct investigations owing to public pressure. The leaks are very important because they give the public a clear picture of the government they have in place, and they usually lead to justice. Here are some of the top leaks against the United States government or people within the government in the past few decades.
10. The WikiLeaks War Logs
WikiLeaks is one of the biggest Internet-based bodies that take up the responsibility of sharing classified information about crimes performed by high profile individuals, and especially governments, against the public. In 2010, WikiLeaks posted thousands of classified military documents related to the United States war in Iraq and in Afghanistan with several world newspapers and revealed what was actually happening there. According to the information leaked, the U.S. military was ignoring the abuse of Iraqi civilian detainees, that numerous civilians lost their lives in the hands of the coalition forces in Afghanistan, and that the American troops were knowingly classifying civilian deaths as the deaths of the enemies.
9. The Plamegate Scandal
Plamegate is all about the exposure of the identity of a CIA agent, and the events leading up to it. In 2003, the George Bush administration was determined to invade Iraq, and it was willing to say or do anything to justify its claims. The administration claimed that the United Nations inspections were not working, that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, that al-Qaeda and Iraq had links, and that Iraq was seeking Uranium from Niger. The above claims were refuted by U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson and the U.S. troops who went to Bagdad and Niger to investigate. Joseph Wilson questioned the Bush administration’s reasons for invading Iraq, which in turn led to the publishing of a column in the Washington Post that both criticized Joseph and mentioned his wife “Valerie Plame” as a CIA operative. The investigations into the source of the identity leak led to the prosecution of Lewis Libby, the aide to Karl Rove.
8. The Apache Helicopter Shooting
This is an actual horrific video of a U.S. aircrew killing a number of people after an air strike, people who were posing no threat whatsoever to the crew or others in Bagdad. The disappointing and embarrassing thing about this video is that the members of the aircrew were laughing at how they killed those people. Among the casualties were two reporters namely Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, who were working for Reuters. WikiLeaks published this confidential video on their website in July 2007 for everyone to see, leading to the pentagon labeling the whistle-blowers as threats to national security.
7. The Watergate Scandal
This is one of the most popular scandals in United States history, and it led to the first ever resignation of a U.S. President. In June 1972, five men broke into the Watergate hotel, which is where the Democratic National Committee had its headquarters, and they were caught installing illegal bugs. Reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward started an investigation soon after, and they were able to link the men to the White House thanks to leads from an informant under the secret name “Deep throat”. Information got out with regard to the participation of the Nixon administration and the cover-up, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
Trailblazer was an NSA program that cost the government $1.2 billion, with one of its features infringing on the people’s right to privacy. Information about this secret NSA project was leaked by a former NSA senior executive called Thomas Drake, who was later prosecuted for his actions. The initial intention of Trailblazer was to sift through all forms of electronic communication brought about by the Internet and mobile phones in order to improve on security. Since the project infringed on people’s rights and was extremely expensive, Thomas Drake leaked out the information to the press. Thomas was hoping that the government was going to adopt a cheaper project that respected people’s privacy going by the name ‘Thinthread’, which was thrown out the window.
5. McChrystal’s War Plan
President Obama came to office hoping to end the war in Afghanistan as soon as possible, and bring home all the American troops. However, this was not to happen because of several factors. The McChrystal’s War Plan was a leak of information between the president and his newly appointed commander in Afghanistan. President Obama asked McChrystal to review the whole war, and his response was that the war would be lost if Obama did not send more troops. The Watergate scandal’s Bob Woodward was responsible for sharing 66 pages detailing the report, and he posted them on the Washington Post’s website for everyone to read. The president had no other options but to comply with McChrystal’s requests.
4. The Prism Leak
Americans have always suspected that ‘Uncle Sam’ is listening to all their private conversations, and now there is actual hard evidence of that, thanks to people like Edward Snowden, a technical contractor who was once an employee of the CIA. Snowden leaked information regarding a highly classified U.S. National Security Agency surveillance program that is involved in collecting millions of Verizon customers’ phone records, with authority from a top-secret court order. The surveillance project goes by the codename PRISM, according to the report that broke in the Guardian and The Washington Post. Using this secret project, top government agencies are obtaining all sorts of information from people including video and voice chats, emails, social networking information, photos, etc. According to the leaks, this information is coming from central servers belonging to several major Internet companies, and the project has backing from the White House.
3. The Bombshell Memo
This is a shocking report concerning the horrific September 11th attacks that killed thousands of Americans in their own country. What surprised most Americans is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could have prevented the attacks if only they would have listened to Coleen Rowley, who was an FBI special Agent at the time. Apparently, one of the 9/11 conspirators suspiciously paid $8,000 in cash for flying lessons, yet Coleen was denied a request to search the computer as well as the room where the conspirator was staying. This bombshell was against the FBI, claiming that they would have stopped the attack but chose not to. To some extent, the FBI was hoping that this information would stay under wraps but Coleen went to Time magazine and gave full details of the incident.
2. The Jeffrey Sterling Leaks
Jeffrey Sterling is a former CIA officer responsible for leaking information about how the United States was failing to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program to the New York Times. Jeffrey had taken part in many secret operations, with one where they gave faulty plans to the Iran nuclear program in 2006, in a bid to stall it. Jeffrey’s crime was how he provided classified information about the nature of his work to the public, warranting a 10-count indictment against him. This was a setback for the CIA and other government bodies trying to fight against the threat of countries developing nuclear weapons.
1. The Cablegate Scandal
This is yet another WikiLeaks doing that gave the whole world a glimpse into how the U.S. government handles its relations with other nations behind the scenes. The so called ‘cables’ are documents that reveal the extent that the U.S. spies on the United Nations and other allies, how the government turns a blind eye in the face of human rights violations and corruption, and backroom dealings with countries that are seen as neutral. In addition, these documents show how the U.S. lobbies for its corporations in other countries, and the measures that U.S. diplomats take to get the job done. These documents got many U.S. politicians calling for the prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder, because they perceive him as a terrorist and a threat to the government.
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