Whistleblowers: Homegrown American heroes

Gaige Davila

The era of massive data leaks and whistleblowing began in 2010 with WikiLeaks unveiling a 2007 video of a U.S. conducted airstrike on unarmed civilians in Baghdad. Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on metadata collecting programs by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 reignited a national conversation on privacy and the utility behind government surveillance. This past week, millions of documents obtained from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed that offshore accounts of several politicians being used as tax havens.
Releases of incriminating information about the federal government is not new in the slightest. The infamous Watergate scandal which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation was revealed through a FBI-head-turned-whistleblower in the early seventies. Michael Ruppert, former LAPD officer, revealed how the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in a major drug trafficking ring in Los Angeles, Calif. during the late seventies.
These information leaks have led to massive oppositions of the federal government’s power, where their unethical practices are held accountable before them.
Why does it matter?
Because of the actions of whistleblowers in the past decade, people who were already disenchanted or cynical towards the federal government have examples of corruption and manipulation — affording them a platform from which to demand change. Once the conflict has been nationalized, much like with any political policy issue, action almost immediately follows suit.
Apple’s dispute with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requesting a bypass to the iPhone of Syed Farook, one of the perpetrators of the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting, raised concern of the FBI being able to access locked phones.

Because this shooting was labeled as an act of terrorism, to assume that the American public would deem Apple’s hesitance to create a bypass for the FBI as unsupportive of the United States’ anti-terrorism culture is not outlandish in the least.
As evidenced by the middle-east intervention immediately following the September 11th, 2001 attacks, the American public will be in favor of any initiative for the sake of combatting terrorism, even if it’s entirely unethical.
However, the concern for privacy bled through the media attention of the San Bernardino shooting and the anti-terrorism and Islamophobia hysteria that it brought along; if the reveal of documents showing the government’s current access to our personal data had not been leaked two years prior, support for the FBI would’ve been unanimous out of the fervor of seeking justice for the shooting victims.
The digesting of this information comes at the unfortunate cost of being trickled down from two unreliable sources: the federal government and major news media. Regardless of how many grains of salt you take with the information revealed from these leaks, you are now aware of an underlying system of deceit, and a movement bent on stopping it all.
The 2010’s will be a decade of further enlightenment of people; a growing awareness on the practices of an entirely too powerful federal government is imminent, and will continue to fester until transparency is reached. We have less than four years until the 2010s are over, and the tint on the window of the federal government is almost gone.