November 2014 Lecture in Journalism, Whistleblowing and the Security State



On Thursday two of us travelled to Birkbeck College at the University of London for a talk on Journalism, Whistleblowing and the Security State. We were looking forward to the event and were not to be disappointed by the esteemed panel of five who arrived to talk.

We had with us information leaflets regarding Chelsea Manning and also transcripts of her recent interview with Amnesty to hand out to attendees. (The Wire page 7 November 2014) Leaflets were taken keenly by the majority. Not surprisingly considering the audience, only a few people needed an introduction to Chelsea.

The five speakers were extremely inspirational and uplifting. To hear the details of situations encountered by a Whistle-blower, from the Whistle-blower provided the audience with an added dimension. As the reality of their experiences unfolded it would have been impossible not to admire the bravery involved.

The talk given by Coleen Rowley was in particularly informative given from her insider knowledge of the FBI. Reference to Chelsea was made by the speakers on several occasions. During the question and answer session following the talks it was asked how can we stand up against the powerful corrupt and their misinformation. The panel response was that we must inform everyone we can as to what is happening, join together to enable a critical mass and use means of nonviolent civil disobedience.

The speakers included:

  • Matthew Hoh, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and former US embassy representative in Afghanistan who became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce policy in Afghanistan in 2009.

  • Coleen Rowley, an attorney and former FBI special agent who was among the first to expose some of the agency’s pre-9/11 failures, and was one of three whistleblowers named as Time Magazine’s persons of the year in 2002.

  • Norman Solomon is the coordinator of and the author of a dozen books on media and public policy including *War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death*.
  • J. Kirk Wiebe is a retired National Security Agency whistleblower who worked at the agency for 36 years until October 2001. Since then, he has made several key public disclosures regarding the NSA’s massive surveillance programmes.
  • Katharine Gun is a former translator for the GCHQ who leaked a top secret memo in 2003 revealing NSA spying operations at the UN. Gun was subsequently charged under the Official Secrets Act but the case was dropped after the prosecution offered no evidence. Given the backdrop of impending war with Iraq at the time, Daniel Ellsberg called Gun’s leak “the most important and courageous” he had ever seen.

Link to Podcast:

The meeting was chaired by Dr Justin Schlosberg from the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck

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