The War on Whistleblowers is going nuclear

After the midterm elections, one of President Trump’s first tweets was a direct threat to use criminal leak investigations to retaliate against Congress if it tries to conduct real oversight of his administration. As we wrote in The Hill last week, this is not an empty threat, given that multiple administrations have used government secrecy to effectively criminalize key elements of public oversight.

The Trump administration has already taken the War on Whistleblowers to new extremes. Those who have not been intimidated into silence have been aggressively punished. Reality Winner, even after agreeing to a plea bargain, still received the longest prison sentence in any federal leak case, and was subjected to a harsh and unnecessary pre-trial detention. Terry Albury — the agent who revealed the existence of the FBI’s modern COINTELPRO, policies targeting immigrants, minorities and the free press — also pled guilty and received a similarly long prison sentence, along with a demeaning lecture by the judge about the “dishonor” of his actions.

These outcomes are the chilling but predictable result of the long expansion of government secrecy and the erosion of constitutional rights and civil liberties. I have always said that the War on Whistleblowers is also a backdoor war on freedom of the press, and ultimately on the public’s right to know their government’s actions.

This is why I started the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program, and it is why we need your support today. Defending whistleblowers, who are often isolated and smeared as “traitors,” is not generally a popular or well-funded endeavor. But in this key moment, one of our donors has agreed to match your donations, up to $20,000.

Your donations ensure our independence to fight for those that no one else will. We would greatly appreciate contributions of any amount, and encourage you to forward this message to anyone you know who may be interested in our work – we don’t want to miss this opportunity.


Your donations are tax deductible, and every donation helps expose abuses of power the government would rather hide.