How to Blow the Whistle (and NSA RPG, Greenwald)

Neat study in effective whistleblowing psychology from someone with hands-on experience on Slashdot. His example is for organization-internal whistleblowing rather than for playing Manning/Snowden, but the psychology is the same.

Instead of trying to “take the credit” and getting crushed for your efforts, you find a suitably well-positioned person to act as your proxy, and stay anonymous. In exchange they get a “commission” — of being able to claim the fame themselves.

This is, ironically, classic espionage psychology. Those people never so much as go to the bathroom without a “cut out” to take the heat.

The NSA roleplaying game… why do I have a feeling this will be played at 30C3?

Greenwald responds to critics.
One point of his I’d like to single out:
“if we have documents that would help other states spy more effectively on their own citizens’ internet activities, should we publish those, thereby subjecting hundreds of millions of people to heightened state surveillance?”

My general answer to this would be “yes.” Though everything I point out here rests on public sources, the question has certainly gone through my mind “couldn’t someone use this for evil?”

To which the answer inevitably is, “yes, and keeping this secret is what’s let people use it for evil so damn long!” Once something’s in public, both good and evil — so to speak — know about it, and the balance tips in favor of good.

“No, you have to do it right. She went in and made a stink, made the entire affair about her. That’s the WRONG way to do it. I’ve had to rat some people out in my profession before, and my approach is always the same. Gather clear and obvious evidence. Take it to which-ever superior you think is clever enough to understand it. Then play dumb as a rock… “I ran across this while doing some work… I really don’t get what it means. Why would be do this or this? It seems like he intentionally did it but I don’t think he’d do that!” then your desire to remain out of the subject, anonymous.

You’ve now given the superior permission to take full credit for the discovery. Instead of it looking like YOU are on a witch hunt and personally dislike the target, it’s now your bosses show. If they don’t follow through or fail in some miserable fashion, you can review their failure or reason for rejecting the idea, refine your approach and go to another superior with new data. Sometimes you don’t have enough evidence. That’s fine, bad people like to repeat their offenses. Sit and wait and it will happen again, this time you can be ready and collect more data.

Granted, I’m in IS. So most of my Whistle blowing involves security breaches by upper management, who think security is for us Peons… or rolling out projects with no testing… that sort of thing. So it’s in the companies best interest to correct the issue immediately. I’ve gotten several people in much higher pay scales than I fired and I doubt more than a couple of people in the whole company have any idea I was involved.

I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to remain anonymous. Even if you’re successful, you don’t want to be “that guy” at work that everyone knows is out to get everyone. Stay quiet, let others take the glory. This kind of glory is tainted, you don’t want it.”

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