The commentary on Edward Snowden over the past several days and the various discussions on dissent, resignations, and whistleblowing have given me a lot to think about.  I’ll leave discussion of the merits of Snowden’s actions to Dan’s thread below.  Here I want to think about the process and pitfalls of whistleblowing and dissent.  Twenty years ago this summer I had my own moment in the spotlight for resigning from my position at the State Department in protest over American policy in Bosnia. My situation and experiences were quite different — I was a policy dissenter not really a whistleblower. My resignation — along with those of a few colleagues — generated widespread attention, but none of us disclosed government crimes per se and I was never under threat of legal action. Nonetheless, there are a few general observations on dissent and whistleblowing that may be worth some discussion:   dissent and whistleblowing are inevitable, they are unpredictable, and they are also relatively rare (for a much wider range of reasons than some have suggested).  I also am very uncomfortable labeling dissenters or whistleblowers as heroes, but, for reasons that are different from some of the other commentary out there. Continue reading

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