Takoma’s Electric Maid was filled Tuesday night for the screening of the Robert Greenwald movie “War on Whistleblowers.” The thought-provoking, excellent documentary follows the stories of four modern day whistleblowers — Michael DeKort, Thomas Drake, Franz Gayl, and Thomas Tamm — who risked jail and sacrificed careers and years of their lives to do the right thing on issues ranging from shoddy Coast Guard shipbuilding to protecting troops in combat to revealing NSA surveillance misdeeds. The movie also documents the disappointing record of the Obama administration, which has tried more whistleblowers under the dangerously broad, vague “Espionage Act” than all previous administrations combined.
Among the audience members was activist and former EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, who told her own story of exposing life-threatening conditions at a US multinational-owned South African vanadium mine, over the objections of EPA officials. Adebayo’s experiences led her to become an advocate for whistleblowers; in her Black Agenda Report article “Run Snowden Run,” she writes
…whistleblowers are not safe in the confines of the U.S. Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and all others who have rebelled against US policies by blowing the whistle on corruption or racism have experienced the full weight of the state. […] We must support whistleblowers and government transparency. We call upon progressive forces to pressure the Obama Administration to drop the charges and to end the manhunt against Snowden and Assange.
The lessons both from the movie, from Ms. Coleman-Adebayo’s remarks, and from audience discussion came back to this: whistleblowers perform a tremendous service to the American people — despite escalating efforts by the United States government to prevent and/or punish that. We owe them a debt of gratitude — and after the screening, audience members expressed their thanks to Edward Snowden for his courage and service: