Could Edward Snowden's Have Gone Through Those "Proper Channels" We're Always Hearing About?

Q&A with Jesselyn Radack, Snowden's attorney.


"Edward Snowden's Lawyer on the Government's War on Whistleblowers," written by Amanda Winkler & Nick Gillespie and filmed by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. About 13 minutes.

Original release date was October 22, 2015. Writeup below:

During the first Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton denounced Edward Snowden as a criminal who simply refused to work through official channels. "He broke the laws," said Clinton. "He could have been a whistleblower, he could have gotten all the protections of being a whistleblower." 

Would Edward Snowden be better off had he gone through official channels to blow the whistle?

No way, says his lawyer, Jesselyn Radack of

In an interview with Nick Gillespie, she points to intelligence whistleblowers who came before Snowden as evidence that her client would not have been provided legal protections. "Tom Drake, Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Ed Loomis did go through the proper channels," she tells Reason TV, "and all of them fell under criminal investigations for having done so."

"For the people out there shouting that Edward Snowden should have gone through proper channels," she continues, "there aren't that many channels for national security and intelligence whistleblowers. They are excluded from most avenues available to other whistleblowers."

And when they do expose ugly, sometimes-unconstitutional behavior on the part of the government, the whistleblowers are more likely than not to be the ones hauled into interrogation rooms. 

Radack discusses Snowden's future, why she left the Justice Department to defend whistleblowers, how the U.S. government is waging a war on information, and the rising tide of whistleblowing about the military use of drones.

Related video: Reason TV's interview with William Binney, the NSA whistleblower known as "Edward Snowden 1.0."  

NEXT: Gun Control and Immigration Restrictions Are Enemies of Liberty

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  1. This is from a FB group called “Police Need to stop murdering our pets“. Apparently there’s one called “Paws up don’t shoot”, too.

    1. Why do you hate our Heroes in Blue(TM)?

    2. I’d be pleased if they stopped murdering humans first.

      1. Baby steps Lee, baby steps.

    3. More anti-cop stuff creeping back into the leftyverse. Maybe they’re rediscovering their ersatz distrust of authority now that Obama’s term is almost over?

      1. The only thing the left cares about is cops killing brown folk. Provides excellent ammo for waging divisive identity politix kultr war, etc.


          Seriously, there was a BLM protest in Chicago yesterday in which the protesters were chanting “Stop the police and fund black futures.”

          1. Might as well co-opt the slavery reparations movement next.

            1. Wigger, please

  2. What will it take to get common sense tailgating safety laws in this country?

    How many children must die?

  3. If the NFL is truly interested in expanding the appeal of American football around the world, they should consider showcasing some teams that don’t totally fucking suck every once in a while.

    1. We’ve got ’em right where we want ’em, Mike.

    2. It’s more important for the teams to be evenly matched than for them to be good. A sloppy high-scoring game is far more entertaining for people who are not devoted fans than a duel between two stout defenses and careful offenses.

    3. What we really need is for some good NFL teams to beat up on some fledgling foreign startups. Team USA vs. the world did wonders for basketball. (Remember when Vince Carter jumped right the fuck over that dude?) I, for one, would love to see the Patriots play the London Silly Nannies.

  4. Of course he could have gone through proper channels. And everything the Obama administration has done to him for telling the truth indicates that he wouldn’t have faced any retribution whatsoever.

    1. The “proper channels” are like the English Channel, the Gibraltar Straits or the Straits of Hormuz – it allows you to blow any approaching threat right the hell out of the water. The proper channels aren’t there to allow access to the PTB, they’re there to prevent access, the gatekeepers are there to keep the gates closed and sound the alarm when the townspeople approach with their torches and their pitchforks. Snowden attempting the proper channels is exactly like the start of a horror flick where Our Hero has car trouble, alone at night in the deep dark woods, finds the only house for miles and decides to go knock on the door and ask for help. You know whatever’s on the inside of that house is much, much worse than the deep dark woods.

    2. A lieutenant who provides copies of his army’s battle plans to the enemy is just “telling the truth”. Would you expect his commanders to treat him kindly when they find out about it?

      1. I remember as a kid walking into town with my brothers to go to the towns public swimming pool. Cost 50 cents, if I remember correctly. Of course, that was back in the day when you could buy a bag of chips for a dime. And those were good potato chips, too – none of that low-fat, low-sodium nonsense back then. We cooked stuff in lard. Or beef tallow, which is cow lard. They also made candles out of tallow back in the olden days. If you were rich and could afford it you used beeswax candles or whale oil lanterns but poorer people used tallow candles or went to bed when it got dark. It’s getting darker earlier in the evening, but Daylight Saving Time start soon, doesn’t it? Notice I said Daylight Saving Time – lots of ignorant people think it’s Daylight Savings Time. Same as “Down Syndrome”, lots of ignorant people think it’s Down’s Syndrome, with an apostrophe and an s.

        Now I forget, why were we talking about ignorant people and Down Syndrome?

        1. But did you wear an onion on your belt?

      2. But when someone provides the battle plans OF the enemy, he’s a hero, like Snowden.

      3. A lieutenant who provides copies of his army’s battle plans to the enemy is just “telling the truth”. Would you expect his commanders to treat him kindly when they find out about it?

        False analogy.

        He didn’t provide battle plans to the enemy AND in your scenario the commanders weren’t VIOLATING THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION!

        Fuck off Tulpa!

        1. You talk like a traitor. You need to retake your oath of loyalty to our current leadership.

          1. You know who else were considered traitors?

            1. Most of the Reason commentariat?

              1. + a shit ton of woodchippers

  5. Let face some facts. There are 7 general classes of people in this country. The lowest is the ones didn’t finish school and feel someone owes them something. This group should be left to strave or just be eliminated. Then you have the working poor that wants to live the dream but is stuck in bowels of corporate greed. Then you have the middle class which may be about 70% of the population. For every one of this group that moves up 10 fall to a lower group in this period of time. Then you have the new rich which are the assholes that that everyone thinks are so cool but are just jerks that seem to think that their poop doesn’t stink. Next is the political class who think they know what is best for everyone else. Laws they write never apply to them. They become wealthy by doing the bidding of the corporations or the very rich. They are the slime of all civilizations. Next are the old rich that you seldom hear about but control most everything. Then you have the old. After the progressives destroyed the family unit and the polticans stole trillions from social security and corporations stole their pensions then they want to blame the old for bankrupting our country. This experiment in history has failed.

    1. Your newsletter, I would like a subscription.

    2. Also, Hillary Clinton eats people’s children.

      1. I thought that was GWB. I get confyooz, sometimes…

      2. Yes she does.

    3. Where are the Jews in this scenario?

    4. Why do we need 7 (!) claases of people?! Isn’t 1 enough?

      1. No body needs high capacity classes of people to hunt.

        2 is plenty

        us vs. them

  6. If only Snowden had disclosed the details of NSA domestic surveillance through an email server in his bathroom closet, then he’d be OK.

  7. Snowden made the mistake of revealing this stuff when the wrong president was in power. Were it GW Bush in office when Snowden came out with this info, the Progtards would’ve hailed him a national hero and sung accolades in his honor. But since he did it on Obama’s watch, then fuck that guy.

    1. This.

  8. “He broke the laws,” said Clinton.

    That’s rich.

    1. “Well Mrs. Clinton, speaking of breaking laws, you seem to have a rich history in this area. Let’s start with the cattle futures incident….”

      If only the media weren’t such pussies and would call her on her bullshit.

      1. Honest to God, I don’t understand how she appeals to anyone. I don’t see one single redeeming quality.

          1. Then the hill-dog’s supporters must be like some sex starved adolescent male for whom any vagina will do.

    2. Broke the laws? Takes one to know one, you cunt Hillary.

  9. Post racial President!

    President Obama told law enforcement officials Thursday that the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted a point too long ignored: “There is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that is not happening in other communities, and that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”

    “The African-American community is not just making this up. It’s not something that’s just being politicized. It’s real,” Obama said. “We as a society, particularly given our history. have to take this seriously.”

    Tell Kelly Thomas’ family that, you sleazebag.

    1. A crazy homeless white person got assaulted by cops, so that means all the normal black people assaulted by cops for merely walking around are not evidence of racism. Sure.

      1. By “assaulted”, you mean “manslaughter-ed”, right? Because, last I heard, Kelly Thomas was still dead.

        1. You misspelled ‘murdered’.

          1. Depends on who we’re talking about. Ramos was charged with 2nd degree murder, the rest were charged with manslaughter.

        2. He was assaulted too.

          If you want to compare the cop-induced death totals for black people vs. white people that’s even more disproportionate.

    2. Or that kid in Michigan who got killed for asking a cop not to shine his high-beams in his face.

  10. “He broke the laws,” said Clinton.

    Takes one to know one, I reckon.

  11. Fuck off, Tulip.

    Also, could Edward Snowden’s (sic) “what” have gone through proper channel’s (sic)? Or are Keys and Peeles writing for you now. #LiamNeesons

  12. For the first 90 years after the telephone was invented, full-blown wiretapping was not considered unconstitutional, by people who were far closer to the constitutional era than we. So it’s pretty ridiculous to claim the 4th amendment was intended to cover phone metadata.

    That’s before we get to the fact that the national security threats of 2013 are of a much different nature than those of 1789. Yes, they had to deal with raids by Washington sports team namesakes, but we face a much more sophisticated and clever foe today.

    1. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

      1. What does any of that have to do with phone metadata?

      2. Those penumbras only apply to abortion.

      3. Those penumbras only apply to abortion.

        1. That’s worth writing twice!

      4. “.. or things to be seized”

        Seems pretty straightforward to me since “thing” covers … well. everything.

    2. In 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts were established by people who were actually involved in the drafting and enactment of the Constitution. So it’s pretty ridiculous to claim the 1st Amendment was intended to prevent the jailing of newspaper editors who write unflattering descriptions of sitting and former Presidents.

      1. The A&S acts were denounced as unconstitutional immediately by the Federalists’ opponents. The party responsible for passing them got drubbed out of office in the next election, never to return to power. In short, not a good analogy.

        1. And yet Woodrow Wilson brought the law back in the form Espionage Act of 1917. Which has been used by our government to harass and imprison blowers. Wilson even imprisoned the Socialist Presidential candidate Eugene Debs for speaking out against WW I. Debs was later pardoned by Harding.

          It frankly amazes me that you would defend the federal government on the basis that it was perfectly fine in an earlier era for government to eavesdrop on Americans. Despite the fact that great liberals such as Louis Brandeis warned against such use of government power. And despite the now widely known abuses of surveillance power done under J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI.

    3. Varamyr|10.25.15 @ 11:43AM|#
      “For the first 90 years after the telephone was invented, full-blown wiretapping was not considered unconstitutional, by people who were far closer to the constitutional era than we. So it’s pretty ridiculous to claim the 4th amendment was intended to cover phone metadata.”

      You should change your handle to “Non-sequitur”; much more appropriate, tulpa.

    4. Slavery, Segregation and the restriction of voting rights were also considered constitutional. So I’m not sure taking the constitutional assumptions from an earlier Era simply because it’s closer to the period of our founders a is good argument for protecting data collection programs.

  13. Fuck off, Tulip.

    “The government acted unconstitutionally a long time ago, which was a few decades closer to the revolution than now, so it’s totes OK for the government to do it today because – hang on, I gotta take Obama’s cock out of my mouth to take a breath – technology.”

    You’re an idiot.

    1. The government acted unconstitutionally a long time ago, which was a few decades closer to the revolution than now

      Don’t bet on it.

      1. heh


    1. They were called scribes

    2. +1 Bartleby

      1. I prefer not to.

  15. Another end of life controversy…..nized-1621

  16. A crazy homeless white person got assaulted murdered by cops


    1. That too. Just like the black normals who get murdered by cops.

      1. Um I guess Im a “black normal” over here (whatever the fuck that means) And I’ll tell you that I’m as troubled by police brutality against “non-black” normals as I am of them brutalizing “black” normals.

        Also “black” normals….seriously?

        What does a non-normal black look like? Do they have to own a home to be normal? And why does being able to afford a place to live make the trampling of their rights more important than the trampling of the homeless man’s rights?

  17. A lieutenant who provides copies of his army’s battle plans to the enemy

    The government sees us as the enemy. Thanks for admitting it.

    1. Snowden didn’t just release his stuff to “us”.

      1. Yes, he released it to journalists who actually vetted it and released the stuff that mattered. Of course, they weren’t the *right* journalists, so he’s obviously a traitor, right?

  18. Snowden could not have obtained the evidence he used to prove his contentions without breaking the law. That alone shut off his access to “proper channels”. Without the material he stole, all he had was a story.

    1. At least Bruce Greenwood had a photographic negative.

  19. I would like to thank all you assholes that called for common sense car regulations in the various comment sections.…..e/36027322

    And this little gem:


      1. For dinner…

  20. DUI[is to]firing a gun in a crowded city park while blindfolded[as]blowing the whistle on unconstitutional behavior[is to]a military officer providing intelligence to the enemy during war

    1. Let’s get Tulpa’s opinion on this, again and again.

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    1. Lick my balls with your russian goddamn tongue, bitch, and I’ll give your fucking face 5 fucking dollars.

    2. The typo in the link is a nice touch, though.

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