Jeremi and Zachary discuss the role of dissent, specifically whistleblowers, in US national security and defense, with Hannah Gurman and Kaeten Mistry.
Zachary sets the scene with his poem, “Cross of Gold”.
Hannah Gurman teaches U.S. history and American Studies at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She is the author of The Dissent Papers: The Voices of Diplomats in the Cold War and Beyond (2012), editor of A People’s History of Counterinsurgency (2013), and co-editor of Whistleblowing Nation: The History of National Security Disclosures and the Cult of State Secrecy (2020).
Kaeten Mistry is a historian of the U.S. and the world and teaches at the University of East Anglia. He has authored Waging Political Warfare: The United States, Italy, and the Origins of Cold War (2014) and edited Reforms, Reflection and Reappraisals: The CIA and U.S. Foreign Policy since 1947 (2011) and, with Hannah Gurman, Whistleblowing Nation: The History of National Security Disclosures and the Cult of State Secrecy (2020).
- Jeremi SuriProfessor of History at the University of Texas at Austin
This is Democracy,
a podcast that explores the interracial intergenerational and intersectional unheard voices living in the world’s
most influential democracy.
Jeremi Suri 0:21
Welcome to our new episode of This is Democracy. Today’s episode is going to focus on a topic that’s been in the news quite a bit, and a topic that’s ever present in American national security and foreign policy. But a topic we don’t talk enough about the role of dissent. What role dissenters within the policy establishment play. These dissenters are often known as whistleblowers. We’ll discuss that topic as well. But our real focus is on the role of individuals who are intimately involved with national security and intelligence defense, the State Department elsewhere, and their role in bringing to the public attention about misdeeds and deviations from constitutional authority and the appropriate uses of power. We have with us to historians, who have done more to elucidate and write about these issues than anyone else. Hannah gurmann and Caitlin mystery, Hannah teaches us history and American Studies at NYU Gallatin School of individualized study. She’s the author of the dissent papers, the voices of diplomats and the Cold War and beyond, which is a book I learned a lot from an editor of A People’s History of counterinsurgency, and the CO editor of this new wonderful book called whistleblowing nation. Hannah, thank you for joining us today.
Hannah Gurman 1:43
Thank you for having me.
Jeremi Suri 1:45
We have also Katyn mystery, who’s a historian of the US and the world and teaches at the University of East Anglia in England. He has authored waging political warfare, the United States, Italy and the origins of the Cold War, which is really quite a fascinating story. I encourage people to read, read Keynes wonderful work on this early important moment in the Cold War. He’s edited reforms, reflection and reappraisals, the CIA and US foreign policy since 1947, and he’s the CO editor with Hannah, again, this wonderful book, whistle blowing nation, Katyn, thank you for joining us. Thanks. Thanks for having us. Before we turn to our discussion of dissent and national security, we have of course, our scene setting poem from Mr. Zachary Siri, what’s the title of your poems? Zachary?
Zachary Suri 2:35
Cross of gold
Jeremi Suri 2:37
Wow, I didn’t know we’d have William Jennings Bryan joining us today. Okay, Zachary. Let’s hear it.
Zachary Suri 2:44
Aristotle wrote of the golden mean in a land of Grecian fields. And so too did the centuries proclaim moderation my underlings, my dears. A scale is never balanced if the masses are on even and the tide can never come here, if it never pulls from there. If the water is never gone, it will never reach the pier. And so too, did the stages right of living in the middle. And so to to the poet sing of overzealous love. But what is there to do in life if virtue is a dove? Sometimes is there not a moment for a sudden movement, a second for a second path, a period for a period of change and a time for a time of shift and sin. For is it not that the scale is never a truly balanced ship? That the oceans are only calm because they often overflow? The sages were radical and they’re steady consultation. That the poet’s could never leave overzealous love for moderation. The Cross of gold could martyr the farmer. Aristotle will smother his innocence and moderation will suffocate the truth.
Jeremi Suri 3:47
Wow, Zachary, that covers quite a lot there. And I love the movement from Aristotle to moderation in the truth. What What is your poem about? my poem is really about
Zachary Suri 3:55
the importance of radicalism and dissent in Policymaking, but also in life and society in general.
Jeremi Suri 4:04
Right, except at home, right, no dissent at home. I think there’s actually too much dissent. And that’s a good thing. Ah, Hannah, let’s let’s start with you if we could. This incredible book that you and Caden have edited with so many authors looking at dissent and the search for truth in national security, echoing Zachary’s poem, how do we understand this relationship between secrecy and dissent? And why is there such a almost ever present tension in American national security?
Hannah Gurman 4:36
Sure. Well, first, I wanted to comment a little bit on on the poem because one thing that strikes me a question that we were working through as we navigated the complexities of whistleblowing was whether or not it is a radical act. And I think one of the points that we wanted to underline score. And one of the discoveries that we made is that, in many respects, whistleblowing is an act of desperation. But it is not necessarily radical, it’s kind of historical phenomenon that have made it radical. So that’s why it’s important to trace this history. So you asked, you know, what, what are the tensions between secrecy and democracy? And those are always going to be, you know, central to national security, right, there’s going to be, the state has a right to keep certain things secret, right. Max vabre famously pointed that out. At the same time, the building of the national security state in the United States is relatively modern. So when we talk about state secrecy, we’re talking about a modern regime that developed over the course of the 20th century, and really not before them. And so what we’re talking about is the erection of a kind of overzealous obsession with state secrets that needs to be traced historically. And, and one thing that’s rather unique about the United States is that it has freedom of speech embedded in the Constitution. And it doesn’t allow official state secrets act like the United Kingdom and other democracies around the world. So the secrecy regime had to get around that fact, we have the principle of free speech. But we also have a state that needs to protect a growing number of secrets. And that’s part of what makes whistleblowing in the United States. Such a complicated phenomenon is that this regime developed in an ad hoc and improvisational manner, to try to come up with a way around the fact that the United States doesn’t have an Official Secrets Act. And it left many fundamental issues of secrecy and democracy unresolved. So on the one hand, the ambiguity of Official Secrets makes whistleblowing more possible. But it also makes the act of whistleblowing extremely risky. And that’s where you get, you’re kind of creating the conditions for this series of dramatic episodes that you see over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, but particularly in certain periods, like the 1970s, and the post 911 era,
Jeremi Suri 7:43
that that that gives us really a powerful way of thinking about this, and particularly the ways in which the growth of the national security state after World War Two, the necessities of that also create sometimes these excesses and a tension between the public’s right to know and an individual’s right to speak, and what are at least perceived as the needs of maintaining secrecy in certain areas. Katyn, one of the topics that you cover in the book, you and Hannah and your authors is the Espionage Act, which goes back, of course, a little earlier than the Cold War, I thought it’d be helpful maybe to begin with a discussion of that as well. What What is the Espionage Act? And how does it relate to this tension that Hannah described so well?
Kaeten Mistry 8:28
Right, so you you’ve mentioned the the national security state, and it’s famously a creation of the post World War Two era, but many of the issues around national security and the protection of information date back to the beginning of the center of the 20th century. And the Espionage Act is a key plank of that of that infrastructure. So as Hannah mentioned, the the United States doesn’t have an Official Secrets Act like the UK because of constitutional reasons. But it has a de facto secrecy regime. And much of it has to do with the Espionage Act. So it emerges during the World War One era. And it’s a piece of legislation to police dissent, and disseminate information, but it’s soon evolved into a classification tool. Now, it’s a very flawed piece of legislation, which is recognized at the time and commentators continue to point out its flaws even now. But what has happened over time is that it’s ensured that the state can keep secrets, whilst also allowing the press to publish them if it reaches the public domain. Yet the only way that it could reach the public domain, of course, is via whistleblowers and internal dissenters. And what has happened is that illegal infrastructure is developed around it where the legal burden falls on that individual. All of which is to say the Espionage Act is the key tool that’s been used to prosecute whistleblowers from the earliest cases in the 1930s, up until the very recent examples in the 21st century, leading all the way up to reality winner and the revelations around Russian meddling in the election of 2016. So the Espionage Act is a key part of the modern secrecy regime in the United States.
Jeremi Suri 10:29
And it’s fascinating Katyn, that it goes back as you said to World War One, but emerges as a larger presence in our legal structure and our policy structure and our democrat democracy after World War Two, that’s an interesting example of a decision in one era, influencing events in another era. One of the strengths of your book, Hannah and Caden is that you you walk us through in the cases many of the different ways in which this plays out, we’ve seen this in front of us in recent years, with the impeachment hearings and related matters. But the book walks us through so many of these cases, how to how does it work, when an individual let’s say in the Pentagon comes forward with evidence of wrongdoing? Why is there Why is there a complicated structure around that? And how does it work? Why isn’t it just a matter of that individual? releasing the information and the public responding your book shows is obviously much more to this involving inspector generals and others. Could you walk us through that process?
Hannah Gurman 11:32
Sure. Well, I think the first distinction that needs to be made is that there are essentially two different categories of whistleblower. One of them, you could call an internal whistleblower, meaning an individual who uses internal channels that were created and sanctioned by the state. Those channels are varied, but for the most part they developed after the 1970s. In the wake of Ellsberg, infamous whistle blowing and they were there to keep with the blowing contained within the institution, they it’s important to point out that they have a very narrow conceptualization of what whistleblowing is. So you have to stay inside. And for the most part, these are around issues of waste and fraud and abuse of power, not really dissent from the substance of a policy per se. And, and in theory, these whistleblowers are protected under the law, but in practice, they are often retaliated against, and they don’t have much influence. So you mentioned inspectors general, they’re the people that are there to manage this process. And we saw how, how vulnerable even inspectors general are to political power, often historically, they themselves are partisan, or at least kind of attend to the bipartisan consensus that has historically treated whistleblowers with a fair degree of mistrust. So those are internal whistleblowers. And then there’s another category called public interest whistleblowers, or we call them public interest whistleblowers, that is people who disclose information to the public in the name of a public interest, usually through journalists. And and what’s important to underscore is that there is in the United States no legal protection for these whistleblowers, and in fact, the state does not recognize them as whistleblowers that would be considered an unauthorized disclosure. So probably the most famous whistleblower of the 20th century daniel ellsberg is not legally a whistleblower. And what happens when they disclose information to the public is that you immediately have this state kind of pronounce them, you know, this is not whistleblowing. This is unauthorized disclosure. And then that kick starts a process where the public has a controversial contest over whether or not this person is a hero or a traitor. Frequently, this person is sanctioned and punished sometimes they go to jail and Ellsberg case. He was lucky in that his his case ended in a mistrial. But you quickly focus on the whistleblower themselves in this divisive hero trader binary, and the substance of the disclosure is often marginalized. And the fundamental question of how democracy handles secrecy and transparency becomes unresolved. So we were really kind of trying to tackle and observe the fact that there is this historical holding pattern that we’re stuck in. Right? It is not a story of kind of linear progress. It’s much more a story of periodic return with leaving these fundamental questions unresolved. Hmm,
Zachary Suri 15:22
yeah. So in in this is a question for Kayden in, in other institutions in, in the American government, we often see that with new administration’s the dissenters become the ones in power in these institutions. And that policy can really be shaped by political appointees. Why is it that in this sort of foreign policy and national security state, it’s so hard for change like that to be enacted? from above? Why do we need these whistleblowers and in a way we really don’t in other in other bureaucracies?
Kaeten Mistry 15:55
Yeah, that’s a great point. We one of the things that that came about, one of our findings from the project was, the issue is often considered in political terms, but the way it plays out is relatively apolitical, curious kind of ways. So when we talk about national security whistleblowing, then it should be, we should under sort of underline the the point that national security of whistleblowers stands apart from whistleblowing in other sectors. in the corporate world, for example, other areas of the state, the fact that it deals with national security information, places it into somewhat of a different category, which affects the the the questions of reform as well. So there’s a contest station, as Hannah pointed out, around who exactly is a whistleblower. But rather than sort of quibble over labels, there are some clear characteristics that emerge. What they are, are can be defined, very sort of, generally, as an insider with privileged information, it makes a disclosure. This doesn’t always have to be classified information. Interestingly enough, the individual’s identity often authenticates the information that’s being exposed, then you have this debate around whether they are a hero or a villain, a traitor, a savior. This often plays out when politicians in the press obsess around sort of the personal motives, and political ideology, rather than the content and the disclosure itself. Another characteristic is that the state moves to persecute national security whistleblowers, and this often leads to questions, again, are of the character which of the individual rather than debate over the substance of that disclosure. And this is a pattern that’s repeated in virtually every case of the last century, it’s very much embedded in US political culture, to what distinguishes or makes the US context quite different from other countries. And it’s something which has been quite stable over different administrations often across different political parties, and also consistent throughout the US government, across the executive branch, the congressional branch and the legislative branch. There is much greater consensus over the approach to national security whistleblowing and the persecution of then then then is often then it’s commonly understood.
Jeremi Suri 18:43
That that’s, that’s really helpful in framing this and understanding the complexities of it, which your book brings out. So well, Hannah, one of the other points that comes out so powerfully in the book is that there was an effort in the 1970s in the United States, particularly following daniel ellsberg, who you mentioned before in his release of the Pentagon Papers, the internal history of the Vietnam War, which was very critical and exposed the the lying of American political leaders about the war. Following that in the late 1960s, early 1970s. There was a very strong effort within Congress, to create legislation to protect whistleblowers in this dissenters and to manage this process and deal with many of these difficulties and paradoxes that Katyn and you have pointed to, why didn’t that process of reform work? Why Why are we still, as you say in the book stuck in this liminal space on this issue? Mm hmm.
Hannah Gurman 19:40
Yeah, I think it’s a great question. And it speaks to some of the ways that Katyn mentioned. You know, national security is historically the exception, rather than the rule. So while whistleblowing has become known to the American Public, largely through these cases that involve national security, like Daniel Ellsberg, like Chelsea Manning, like Edward Snowden. The legislation has historically carved national security whistleblowing out as an exception. So the early laws that protected whistleblowers at the federal level did not protect national security whistleblowers at all. If you know, that was the exception to the rule. It’s it’s a really fascinating irony. So somebody like Ernie Fitzgerald, who blew the whistle on Lockheed Martin, during the Nixon administration reporting, that they had a vast cost overruns, that were really at the taxpayer expense. They became Fitzgerald’s became a sort of early icon of whistleblowing. the Carter administration kind of mentioned him a lot as it was advocating for whistleblowing legislation. But the legislation itself wouldn’t have protected most national security whistleblowers, particularly public interest whistleblowers, who disclose to journalists. And so so that’s a fundamental problem. Over time, Congress began to recognize that they needed to have more protections for national security whistleblowers. So over the last several decades, different branches of the national security establishment, including the Defense Department, and the State Department and the intelligence establishment have created these internal channels that I mentioned earlier. But also, as I said before, they don’t protect people who go to the public. So there’s really an intense faith in the idea that the system can handle. But inherent to whistleblowing is a kind of recognition that the system isn’t working. And so there has yet to be a kind of recognition that we need a public interest whistleblowing system, that you have some kind of outside adjudicator, rather than the system kind of handling its own dissent. That seems structurally flawed, even though as Katyn mentioned, there has been a bipartisan consensus historically for that very system.
Jeremi Suri 22:45
Right. And it does seem in your in your book for very good reasons that Hannah, you and Katyn sympathize very strongly with the Chelsea Manning’s the Edward Snowden, the vindman vindman brothers, who recently were responsible for releasing information about misuses, abuses of power regarding Ukraine by the Trump administration. You’re sympathetic to them. You don’t treat them as heroes, but you’re sympathetic to them for seeing the risks they take the career costs they pay, and particularly their efforts to inform the public is that is that a fair assessment?
Kaeten Mistry 23:21
I think one of one of the misconceptions around this topic is that it falls into sort of a left right binary, or a hero villain binary, or the idea that you have to either valorize or or to criticize whistle blows. Where’s that? One of our attempts was to avoid those sort of very black and white kind of approaches, because the more we dug into the history of the phenomenon, which, in many ways continues to the present, the more the sort of political ideological lines become blurred, right. You mentioned Ukraine whistleblowers, there, or Snowden Manning Ellsberg. You can go back to Nixon 50s, Herbert jacobians, 1930s. It’s a very mixed bag in terms of what their politics would be, what their motives would be. The one thing unifying them, in many ways is the notion of public interest, possibly now you can define, you can argue about what public the public interest is, but it certainly wasn’t. These were not individuals who were just looking to raise their concerns internally. So the question then becomes, what is the significance of whistleblowing and how did the ramifications reverberate beyond that specific issue, and it’s had quite wide ramifications in terms of secrecy, but also the reporting Have secrecy and going back to sort of the beginning of our discussion around democracy and dissent more generally. So what an interesting way to sort of think about this would be, if you were use the analogy of concentric circles. So the impact of whistleblowing may begin with the individual, you’ll have new rules or laws that are brought in to prevent whistleblowing. But these have ripple effects, which go out across institutions and affect different groups. So it’s not just that the state is suspicious of Daniel Ellsberg. But there is suspicion and surveillance that’s extended to collaborators daniel ellsberg lawyer, Leonard Bernstein was also under surveillance. Famously Ellsberg psychologists office was broken into, which, of course, begins the long road to Watergate. This suspicion has also extended and surveillance to journalists who collaborate or work with whistleblowers, very contemporary cases, Jim Reisen news at New York Times, Judy Miller, who was also at the New York Times at the time, who famously would go to jail for not revealing a source. But then also censorship moves to beyond the whistleblower to other officials and those closely associated with the state. So a presidential commission or commission into a congressional commission, all the staffers around it would be forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement, a secrecy agreement. People who are not even state officials, perhaps scholars, historians who work who have who have some sort of relationship with the state to perhaps collaborate or work with the state in some way, colleagues, then you’ll know Jeremy as well, people who, perhaps serving in government, subsequently all of their work will have to go through pre publication review. These are lifetime secrecy agreements, they’re not time restricted. So there’s a great article, one of the contributions in our books by Richard M. well regarded distinguished historian and he points out the many absurdities and inconsistencies in the pre publication review, all of which is to say you have a wide, vast lineup of characters, and there’s very little that they have in common, but they’re all caught up in this web that’s spun by the state in response to whistleblowing.
Jeremi Suri 27:31
It’s quite extraordinary. As I was reading that chapter, I was thinking, of course of john bolton, whose recent memoir has been surrounded by controversy over the pre publication review, which the Trump administration claims he didn’t fully satisfy. And he claims he did, and to have john bolton in the same same book, in a certain sense, as Daniel Ellsberg. And Edward Snowden is quite a range of actors. And it makes your point very well, I did want to focus a bit on Snowden just just for one minute, because he’s probably the most famous and controversial recent whistleblower, how should we think about him he blurbs your book also. And in many ways, he embodies what you’re talking about someone who comes forward and informs the public about illegal uses of surveillance, within our democracy, a topic that certainly threatens many of our core democratic values. But he also potentially shares information with an American adversary, Russia. So how should we think about this? How do you think about this, Hannah?
Hannah Gurman 28:39
Yeah, I mean, we’ve, we’ve thought a lot about Snowden, because, as you say, he is probably the most famous and significant whistleblower of this generation. And he also kind of amplifies a lot of the questions and issues that have been around for over a century. So a few things to say about Snowden. I mean, I think, you know, they’re a case could be made that Snowden is one of probably a minority of whistleblowers who had some impact on policy reform. So his revelations of warrantless surveillance led to some reforms and put some limits on what information could be collected and how. And although it’s also worth underscoring that those reforms were rather limited. But arguably, this is not really what matters most about Snowden. And it is worth pointing out that those reforms coexisted with Obama’s response, which said, you know, thank you, Edward Snowden, in a sense for giving us an opportunity to have this debate, and also Edward Snowden, you broke the law. And and what what you did was an unauthorized disclosure. So Obama’s response To Snowden was very much emblematic of that paradox and the fundamental contradiction of public interest whistleblowing. And similar to Ellsberg, as Obama pointed out, Snowden raised public consciousness about the tensions between democracy and secrecy that have really riddled the national security state for over a century. Another thing that is really important to recognize is that this is a transnational phenomenon. We say it’s United States, but in several instances, and Snowden is one of them, with the act of whistleblowing, reverberates beyond the nation, and in an In snowdens case, around Europe in particular, there was a lot of response and and his disclosure helped to galvanize transnational advocacy around issues of surveillance. And and Katyn could tell you a lot more about other cases, particularly Philip Ag in the 1970s. Who Katyn is really the expert on an analogous histories of transnational responses to US national security whistleblowing. But like Ellsberg Snowden becomes also a cultural icon. So one of the things we do in the book is not just look at legal contexts and questions at the state level, but also how do these whistleblowing cases reverberate beyond the states. And so you can’t really, really appreciate Snowden significance without understanding how he becomes a cultural icon. Also, not unlike daniel ellsberg. And so we think in the end, the public debate, the questions around fundamental issues of secrecy and democracy are one of the more significant kind of legacies of a Snowden not unlike Ellsberg.
Jeremi Suri 32:12
Right, and it’s likely that not just those of us who are historians, but many people concerned about democracy. We’ll be debating and discussing Snowden for many years, as we’re debating and discussing Ellsberg. Here we are 50 years later, I wanted to turn as we always do, at the close of our sessions, to a forward looking question and a hopeful question, I hope, one of the real lessons from your, from your book, particularly, as you mentioned, some of the the case studies I loved, Kate, in your chapter on the 1970s in the anti Imperial, as you call them, dissidents and whistleblowers, what should citizens today, especially younger listeners, who are going into policy positions, or going into institutions, like universities, where all of us work, where oftentimes one does see things that are not right, sometimes even crossing the line of legality? What should we take as lessons from this, if we believe that in a democracy citizens should speak up when they see wrongdoing? But we also recognize, as you point out so well, in this book, the other pressures, the professional pressures, but also the pressures of organizational purpose and policy, that that get in the way sometimes, what are some of the lessons that Readers should take away for their own activities in these settings, Katyn? Any thoughts on that?
Kaeten Mistry 33:41
Yeah, that’s it. We’ve reflected and thought about these these questions as we were sort of bringing the book to conclusion. And it may sound pretty simplistic, but dissent is a healthy feature of democratic society. And it’s essential for a healthy debate. When it comes to national security whistleblowing, I think one of the, the key changes that that could be made is to acknowledge that that these these are whistleblowers on way to protect whistleblowers national security whistleblowers in particular is to is to recognize that they are, and this I think, requires a shift in the conceptualization or whistleblowing to, to include the notion of disclosures in the public interest. Okay. So much of the debate is, is framed by political and legal frameworks, when there is a bigger debate. I think that that that comes to the fore, particularly looking at the history of it. We mentioned somebody like Ellsberg at the time, there was debate, this time Whether he was a whistleblower. Today he is. He is considered as an icon as sort of the archetypal whistleblowers, Ernest Fitzgerald, who we mentioned, reputations change over time as a result of political pressures, context. So it’s interesting how these phenomenon are reconceptualized over time, the thinking forward as to what we can do in the future. I mean, I think there are some questions, some issues that can be reformed reforms that are not radical things like changing the Espionage Act, we’re having a discussion around it, reform of the clash classification system, which is something which periodically always comes up, every single political party will agree that classification is excessive, yet, there’s never been a serious attempt to try to, to rectify that. So we started the discussion, talking about whistleblowing was a radical act, but many of the sort of changes that would perhaps to be required or not radical, it requires sort of people to challenge the framework and to engage in in discussions, I think that would be the key thing to to, I think, emphasize for the next generation who are who are coming through and will be joining institutions are looking to, to, to change them for the better. It’s a great point that
Jeremi Suri 36:35
that we need to be attentive to our institutional structures and strengthen the structures and build upon them that that protect this work. And as you say, the declassification process for secrets secrecy, which is is indeed something every administration promises to work on. But very few make progress on because it’s either not a priority or something that they turn against. In fact, that’s that’s a really important point. Hannah, you teach at an institution, the Gallatin School, which is, which has a social mission attached to it, as all of our universities do, but particularly the Gallatin school. And I know you think about this as K than I do as a personal issue, as well as a historical issue. Oh, what advice do you give to students who will be entering work environments where these issues will come up? Whether it’s a public institution or a private institution? What should they take away from this from your book?
Hannah Gurman 37:32
Yeah, I mean, I think it is something that’s relevant to everybody whether or not you work within the national security state. Another way of thinking about whistleblowing, historically is that it invokes the idea of a professional ethic that we all operate in different dimensions of our lives. In a democracy, yes, we’re citizens, if we have that, you know, in the United States, eroding privileges of citizenship. But we are also in many cases, professionals. And whistleblowing is an important way of thinking about what you owe as a professional to both the institution but also to the public. And Ralph Nader, who was very influential in helping to popularize the concept of whistleblowing would underscore that idea of a professional ethic. And so in a place, you know, in higher education, a lot of what you’re doing is kind of inculcating people into the beginnings of what will eventually become a profession. And as long as we’re talking a few weeks before, one of the most pivotal elections in American history, it’s worth pointing out that these questions of professional ethics are alive and well in COVID. Right, the questions about if you work at the CDC, or you had the CDC, you know, how long does it take for you to go public with your argument that the Trump administration is politicizing its response to the pandemic? And we saw that with the resignation of Dr. Rick bright just this past week. So I think it is relevant. It is, you know, our, our project was about national security whistleblowing, but I think there is a takeaway for anybody who’s going to operate within any institution that there are going to be these questions about, you know, when and how do you take sensitive information public if you no longer believe it is being handled properly within the institution?
Jeremi Suri 39:48
That’s very well said. And one of the points I often try to make to students is that and to other people who are new to the national security world or other other settings like that, Is that a whistle blowing or speaking truth to power? seems obvious and easy from the outside. But when you’re inside, it’s very hard. And you have to have a true sense of your duty and professional ethic to remember your role, because because the pressures against dissent, as you point out in this book, are so powerful, Zachary, as, as a young person who thinks about these issues and talks about these issues a lot. Do you feel that that we’re preparing young people? Or what can we do better to prepare young people for both the professional ethic and responsibility that Hannah articulated, but also the difficulties and challenges in living up to that professional ethic on a day to day basis?
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