Americans love to be lied to; otherwise Edward Snowden would be a wildly popular national hero. Same for Bradley Manning, Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange and others who risk their freedom to inform us about the myriad ways we are continually deceived by our government. These whistleblowers are performing a public service. They’re democracy’s lifeblood, nourishing the essential ingredient that our proclaimed form of governance requires: an informed public. If we are ignorant, our votes mean nothing.
In exposing lies and government misdeeds, the whistleblowers revealed that our leaders are not always virtuous. Snowden has been accused of espionage because he exposed the vast spying network that our own government conducts against us. How can it be that a truth teller who seeks to protect our rights is judged the criminal, not the government officials who brazenly subvert the Constitution?
Our government lies to us frequently and conceals that fact by classifying as “top secret” any and all embarrassing information. However, those so-called secrets are routinely leaked to the news media whenever it serves the purpose of the White House, an agency or one of its officials. Anonymous sourcing of stories attributing information to those not cleared to reveal what they are telling is the norm. During my years working as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, anonymous sources babbled about the most sensitive subjects of national security or anything else they wanted publicized.