Segments in this Video

Superheroes or Traitors? (02:37)


Whistle-blowers like Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake, William Binney, and Edward Snowden live under threats and possible arrest. Annie Machon and Julian Assange warn the public of constant governmental surveillance. Ellsberg studied at Harvard University and then enlisted in the military. (Credits)

U.S. Embassy in Vietnam (03:03)

Ellsberg decided to come forward after meeting with activists who were being imprisoned for non-violent protest. He gave the Pentagon Papers to "The New York Times" and surrendered to authorities— at the trial, the prosecution's case fell apart when the jury discovered Nixon had illegally wiretapped his psychiatric sessions. Ellsberg explains that he turned himself in because he did not want others to be accused of his actions.

Hacker Conference Hope X (02:11)

Snowden and Ellsberg sit on a panel for the conference together. Ellsberg explains that people now view him as a good guy, but 40 years ago they wanted him to go to prison. Snowden credits Drake with showing him the right way to be a whistle-blower.

Thomas Drake (02:22)

Drake began his career in the air force spying on Soviet countries during the cold war. His first day at NSA was 9/11 and he quickly became a senior executive agent. General Hayden wanted Americans to feel safe, but it became apparent to Drake that 9/11 was used to monitor domestic communications on a large scale.

Snowden Documents (02:00)

The U.S. Secret Service budget has doubled since September 11th. The NSA is responsible for the worldwide monitoring of electronic communication. Binney, Ed Loomis, and Kirk Wiebe elected to retire because they were uncomfortable with performing mass surveillance and subverting the Constitution.

William Binney (03:24)

Binney served as an NSA analyst than was promoted to a technical director of the U.S. Secret Service. He created a wiretap program which could anonymously filter large volumes of data. He left the NSA on October 31, 2001.

Sam Adams Award (02:01)

Drake decided he could not support the NSA — at a meeting with counsel he was told to stop asking questions. He reached out to a reporter in 2007 and began feeding him stories. The journalist wrote about waste and mismanagement at the NSA, but could not corroborate Drake's story about the wiretapping.

Edward Snowden's Material (03:20)

NSA could not deny the material Snowden provided. Watch as politicians, whistle-blowers, and law enforcement debate whether he is a patriot or a traitor. Assange elaborates than 1% of Snowden's documents have been published.

Creating a Global Outrage (02:03)

Assange hopes to release documents so countries, corporations, and people can protect themselves from surveillance tactics. In 2006, he formed WikiLeaks and never wanted to spy on others. Working at the NSA is like a drug and it is hard to readjust to living without power.

Anonymous Publishing of Explosive Documents (02:13)

WikiLeaks checks all documents for authenticity and hopes to force corporations and agencies to become more transparent and socially responsible. Not a single person was harmed as a result of publishing documents proving the U.S. was culpable in more than 120,000 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why Do It? (04:57)

Whistle-blowers discuss what motivates them to release confidential documents and proprietary secrets. Bernd Fix from the Chaos Computer Club explains how Snowden and Drake must have felt moral conviction in giving the information to the reporters. Ellsberg cautions not to call whistle-blowers heroes because it sets them on a pedestal.

Spying on the Country (02:04)

Ellsberg wonders if democracy is possible when the government knows everything about its citizens but the people know nothing about the government. Annie Machon describes how people self-censor when they know they are being spied upon. When David Schayler, her former partner, wanted to make MI-5's illegal practices public, she supported him.

Hiding in France (01:59)

Machon describes how she and Shayler would communicate while they were hiding, because they were aware of various surveillance techniques. When they returned to London in 2000, he went to prison. Snowden disclosures explain how the NSA uses microwave technology to spy on its citizens.

Spying Changes Behavior (03:04)

Machon describes how privacy is the last defense against a police state. Ellsberg explains that the NSA now has the technology to know the confidential sources of journalists. Whistle-blowers discuss the issues surrounding global surveillance.

Little Public Debate (03:35)

The British government defended the intelligence agencies. When the German people discovered the NSA was wiretapping Angela Merkel's cell phone there was a public outcry. Mayer doubts anyone changed their security protocols—Binney explains that Merkel's security should have informed and protected her.

Everything is Measured (02:47)

Assange compares global surveillance to global warning. One of the rationales behind mass surveillance is the fear of terrorist attacks. Snowden describes how everything we do is filtered and analyzed by the NSA.

Private Corporations Measure as Well (02:40)

Yvonne Hofstetter discusses how electronic data is a new commodity of the 21st century. Merkel calls for a balance between privacy and the ability to create new products from the data derived. Listen to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, discuss the technology at the World Economic Forum.

Smartphones (03:24)

Smartphones and cloud storage open up individuals to constant surveillance. Ordering a pizza online seems convenient, but that order is recorded in a dozen analytical programs. Credit card applications will be automatically declined online if the user presses the delete button too often.

Digital Self (03:02)

Drake discusses how electronic corporations collude with the government to provide data on citizens. The intelligence community is most interested in phone metadata and browsing histories. Machon believes Facebook is one of the greatest espionage tools.

Private Corporations Serving as Contractors (02:21)

After the Snowden documents were released, telephone companies and texting services vowed to no longer submit to pressure from law enforcement personnel. John Sawers discusses how governments want to balance security with privacy.

After September 11th Attacks (03:17)

International security organizations collaborated to fight terrorism, but still spied on each other. Germany harbored the terror cell responsible for the attacks. A secret agreement was created between the NSA and the Bundesnachrichtendienst to spy on European politicians and assist in industrial espionage.

How to Regulate Intelligence Organizations (03:16)

In 2014, Binney confirmed the relationship between the NSA and the BND to German Parliament. Mayer describes how whistle-blowers can approach Parliament directly if concerned about BND's activities. Binney explains why intelligence organizations need a verification process.

Repercussions to Whistle-blowing (03:54)

After the scandal erupted, Snowden's passport was revoked— no western country would grant him asylum because it would lead to sanctions. The U.S. government wants to charge him under the Espionage Act of 1917. Mayer describes why Snowden does not qualify for asylum in Germany.

Allegations of Rape (05:22)

The Stratfor hack revealed an organized plot by the NSA to discredit Assange. Two weeks later two women accused Assange of rape. He currently resides at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, fearing extradition to the United States for his release of the Snowden documents.

Political Asylum (03:22)

Assange would be happy to return to Sweden to face the charges, if he was guaranteed he would not be extradited to the U.S. Rendering is the practice of taking people from off the street and sending them to another country for torture. Snowden describes how intelligence agencies use Drake and Binney as examples of the repercussions to whistle-blowing.

Charged for Espionage (02:08)

Drake did not reveal to the "Baltimore Sun" any classified information and did not believe he would be charged with espionage. Blacklisted, he explains the repercussions he faced for whistle-blowing. He now works at an Apple Store in Washington DC.

Stasi Prison (03:14)

Drake tours the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, compares the U.S. is to East Germany, and ponders how governments try to control and measure its population. The government charged him with espionage and he believes would have assassinated his character next.

Enemy of the State (02:01)

Drake tells the tour guide about being interrogated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mass surveillance is being implemented on a scale Stasi could not imagine. The strength of the NSA can be diminished by cutting funding.

"New Stasi Agency" (02:08)

Binney describes the mass surveillance program as a "Stasi network on super steroids." Drake elaborates that it has been unable to prevent the Boston Marathon bombings or the Paris attacks. Mayer denies that data retention has not helped the War on Terror.

Internet of Things (02:55)

Soon, watches, fridges, and clothing will contain internet connections to gather more data. Machines will be able to predict behavior and humans will adapt a conformist attitude. Snowden explains that individuals need to decide the type of planet they want to live in, and work to create it.

Credits: Digital Dissidents (00:45)

Credits: Digital Dissidents

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Digital Dissidents

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Never has the role of the whistleblower been more in the public eye. They are the warriors of the digital age, fighting for transparency and privacy in an advancing technological world. Why do they risk everything to do it and can their cause be called a patriotic duty? Critics condemn their actions and claim they endanger our security, others celebrate them as heroes. A fresh insight into those called to serve a complex, life-changing mission.

Length: 89 minutes

Item#: BVL118334

ISBN: 978-1-63521-456-7

Copyright date: ©2015

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