A 29-year-old man who says he is a former undercover CIA employee said Sunday that he was the principal source of recent disclosures about top-secret National Security Agency programs, exposing himself to possible prosecution in an acknowledgment that had little if any precedent in the long history of U.S. intelligence leaks.
An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.
I don’t think “whistleblower” requires revelation of illegal conduct. Dan Ellsberg is considered the classic whistleblower for exposing the systematic lying about the Vietnam War, and that lying wasn’t illegal.People use the term all the time for those who reveal waste, also not illegal.I think it involves exposing what the government is hiding because the public would be angry or upset to learn what is being done. That’s clearly the case here. That said, it’s far from certain that the spying in question isn’t illegal. The ACLU has been claiming for years that it’s flagrantly unconstitutional, but the USG has succeeded in blocking any adjudication of that question.