Public access to accurate information is prerequisite for a functional democracy, since accurate information enables a constructive debate of issues to be based on verifiable facts rather than mere assumptions and propaganda-tainted accounts. There may be valid arguments behind both conservative and liberal political views (and any variation thereof), but no perspective is valid if reliant on putative "facts" that turn out to be simply untrue. This is exactly why protection of whistleblowers is extremely important in any society that claims to be "free and democratic," for without whistleblowers many vitally important facts can never be uncovered and the decisions of voters are largely based on misinformation.
Unfortunately, truth is increasingly hard to find nowadays, and many employees associated with PR firms and "Psy Ops" units are charged with ensuring that sensitive information is not released to the public while a facade of legitimacy is maintained; in other words, such professionals are paid to to ensure distractions are in place so the whole truth is not exposed. Although news media have a public duty to thoroughly investigate and offer unbiased and accurate accounts of current events (thereby keeping voters informed), the mainstream news media in the USA is increasingly controlled by the agenda of corporate sponsors and compromised by the threat of legal action against whistleblowers, and is consequently passive, superficial, and complicit in the widespread dissemination of misinformation. This kind of misinformation ensures that the poor keep voting for politicians determined to maintain tax structures that make them only poorer, while soldiers continue to kill and die in wars that serve little purpose and offer no substantial benefits, all while sex scandals among politicians continue to attract more attention than the misuse and even disappearance of billions of tax dollars. [Note: Here is what 9 billion dollars looks like according to the standard format for indicating dollar amounts in the USA: $9,000,000,000.00 - It is surely among the largest sums of "misplaced" money in all of human history.]
Naturally, this kind of situation is frustrating for any thinking person who is genuinely concerned about the present and future state of the world, but it has traditionally still been possible for at least a small minority to stay fairly well informed by actively seeking out information that is less tainted by nationalistic and corporate bias. Propaganda on Fox News can be carefully compared with reports by expert researchers in the UK or Canada, for instance, to discern a more reliable account and understand how public perception of current events is manipulated. We may regret that so many allow themselves to be deceived (for they are well-intentioned but simply don’t know any better in most cases), but at least those with access to research by experts can be fairly confident in their understandings of what is actually going on.
However, recent developments raise some unprecedented concerns: if whistleblowing of any kind is to no longer be protected but instead aggressively prosecuted, if journalists even in other nations are hunted down as "technological terrorists" merely for daring to share truthful information about current events, the result of such a culture of fear will be that it is no longer possible for anyone – even professors and diplomats - to have substantial access to accurate information. What too few educators seem to fully understand is that the ongoing War on Whistleblowers in the USA is likely to have devastating effects on all who value truth, for it will surely impact both academic research and educational curriculum. If taken to its natural conclusion, the result will be that we are all kept ignorant - not just those who have neither time nor interest to devote the effort necessary to learn the truth about current events (and instead rely on Fox News and its ilk) – but absolutely everyone who is not directly working for military intelligence.
The current War on Whistleblowers is not something to be taken lightly, not a minor concern only relevant to the most radical of extremists or anarchists. Rather, the current crisis actually constitutes a very important moment in history, for all who value intellectual freedom and freedom of information, both of which are fundamental to the cause of education. Misinformation and unnecessary secrecy are a grave threat to democracy, for they prevent meaningful debate and informed decision-making among the citizenry. It is irrefutable that non-transparency is an enemy of democracy, yet the anti-transparency movement is very cleverly lobbied by powerful interest groups who claim that anyone who disagrees with their views is a threat to national security. Civil liberty is now on trial, and the effects of decisions regarding the legality of whistleblowing will be substantial and long-lasting for researchers and educators in the USA and its remaining allies.
Here is a link to James Risen’s recent affidavit, part of a monumental story that is receiving very little attention in American corporate news media: