Who Counts as a Whistleblower?

Disclosures about the National Security Administration’s (NSA) surveillance programs have prompted a discussion on whether the person who released that information, Edward Snowden, could properly be deemed a whistleblower. The word whistleblower is important because it frames how we think of him and what should become of him.

By definition, whistleblowers are people who “expose wrongdoing within an organization in the hope of stopping it.” The term may be contrasted with leakers, defined as “surreptitious informants” and carrying the connotation of self-interested or sinister motivations. There can be an overlap between the terms, best exemplified by Watergate’s deep throat, FBI Associate Director Mark Felt, who shed light on massive government wrongdoing but did so in part out of petty motivations. Continue reading “Who Counts as a Whistleblower?”