July 30, 2012
For tonight’s Conversations with Great Minds – I’m joined by NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Kirk Wiebe. Both men were involved in exposing the NSA’s massive, illegal, domestic spying program known as the Trailblazer project initiated in 2000. Despite not leaking any classified information – and exhaustively going through all the protocols required for members of the intelligence community to blow the whistle on wrongdoing – both men faced serious retributions for going public with what they knew about the NSA’s surveillance program. In 2007 – after a reporter for the Baltimore Sun obtained information regarding waste, fraud, and abuse at the NSA – FBI agents raided the home Kirk Wiebe – confiscating computer hard drives and business records – and revoking security clearance that Wiebe – an NSA veteran – had held since 1964. Wiebe was not charged with any crime. However – Thomas Drake – whose home was also raided – was charged with multiple crimes including violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. Eventually those charges were dropped in 2011. Since then – Drake has gone on to win multiple awards for his courage in blowing the whistle on the NSA – including the Ridenour Prize for Truth Telling and the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. And both he and Kirk Wiebe have done tremendous work to inform all of us on the growing American surveillance state. The National Security Agency is building a massive spy center in Utah. What for? And will Americans be the targets of the NSA’s prying eyes?