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War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State (2013)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 19 April 2013 (USA)
War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State highlights four cases where whistleblowers noticed government wrong-doing and took to the media to expose the fraud and abuse.


Robert Greenwald

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel Ellsberg ... Himself - Pentagon Papers Whistleblower
Franz Gayl Franz Gayl ... Himself - Whistleblower
Seymour Hersh ... Himself - Journalist
David Carr ... Himself - Journalist, New York Times
Sharon Weinberger Sharon Weinberger ... Herself - National Security Reporter
Tom Vanden Brook Tom Vanden Brook ... Himself - Journalist, USA Today
Danielle Brian Danielle Brian ... Herself - Executive Director at Project On Government Oversight
Conchita Gayl Conchita Gayl ... Herself - Franz Gayl's Wife
Joe Biden ... Himself - Vice President (archive footage)
Robert Gates ... Himself - Former Secretary of Defense
Ben Freeman Ben Freeman ... Himself - National Security Investigator at the Project on Government Oversight
Winslow Wheeler Winslow Wheeler ... Himself - Director of the Straus Military Reform Project (as Winslow T. Wheeler)
William Hartung William Hartung ... Himself - Director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy
Pete Sepp Pete Sepp ... Himself - Executive Vice President for National Taxpayers Union
Dana Priest Dana Priest ... Herself - Investigative Reporter, Washington Post


War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State highlights four cases where whistleblowers noticed government wrong-doing and took to the media to expose the fraud and abuse.

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User Reviews

Speaking Truth To Power
27 April 2016 | by virek213See all my reviews

As has been known for decades, going back to the immediate start of the Cold War in the wake of the end of World War II, nothing ever grows in dark, secret places other than perhaps mushrooms. And yet our own United States government, which three hundred twenty million of us place our trust in, is a rat's nest of secrecy beyond anything that we could ever imagine in an old-school Communist state like Stalinist Russia or the Red China of Mao Tse-Tung. This has been especially true since September 11, 2001, where our national security state has not only kept as much highly sensitive information from the public as it possibly can, but has also severely punished anybody who blows the whistle on incompetence and criminal venality inside the national security state, and what President Eisenhower most famously referred to as the Military/Industrial Complex. This is the subject of director Robert Greenwald's 2013 documentary WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS.

As shown in this 67 minute-long film, blowing the whistle on government dissembling has troubling consequences for the people who do it, whether they are inside the government itself, or inside the news media, which is supposed to be that mythical Fourth Estate, keeping the government honest. The most famous whistleblower in U.S. history, at least up until Edward Snowden, was Daniel Ellsberg, the former Pentagon employee who, in 1971, leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post, and so inflamed the Nixon Administration that, in the words of Henry Kissinger, he became "the most dangerous man in the world." Both Ellsberg and journalist Seymour Hersh, the man who broke the horrible 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam to the world at large in late 1969, are interviewed by Greenwald here. But the main focus of WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS is on four specific whistleblowers who uncovered specific acts of malfeasance: Franz Gayl; Thomas Drake; Michael DeKort; and Thomas Tamm. Each of them uncovered things that the public would otherwise never have known about, and in each case they personally suffered for their efforts Gayl, bought to the attention of those in high places in the Pentagon about the vulnerability of Humvees to IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in Iraq, which led to new and far better-armored MRAP vehicles being developed and deployed. Gayl, however, suffered a great deal for his trouble.

Drake uncovered the fact that the NSA's claims of not spying on Americans without a warrant was, to put it quite mildly, not exactly true. Not surprisingly, the FBI and the national security apparatus gave him an enormous amount of grief.

DeKort uncovered information about the Coast Guard's fleet of ships and boats having radios that were susceptible to catastrophic water damage and hulls that were vulnerable to fatal damage. He bought what he knew first to YouTube and then to "60 Minutes", and managed to survive the scrutiny.

Tamm worked in the Justice Department for victims of the 9/11 attacks and developed protocols of "probable cause" to conduct wiretaps against suspected terrorist agents, only to find out that his superiors were going well beyond what was allowed under due process.

As WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS shows, the idea that such activity is tantamount to treason is just a ploy by the national security state to cover up activities that at the very least acts of incompetence, and at their most extreme can create blowback years later. These people are oftentimes necessary for our own personal protection specifically, and the protection of our way of life and our freedoms in general. Greenwald admonishes us to never forget their intentions, and to question government authority without exception.

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