Amsterdam – Yesterday, the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam featured the groundbreaking documentary film Silenced. Screening from November 21st to November 24th, the film focuses on prominent Government Accountability Project (GAP) clients – National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower John Kiriakou – along with GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, a whistleblower herself.
Silenced showcases the serious and life-altering decisions whistleblowers make when they are forced to choose between following their conscience and sacrificing their careers or their very freedom. John Kiriakou faced that choice when he refused to be trained in “enhanced interrogation techniques” and instead blew the whistle on the George W. Bush-era torture program, becoming the first CIA official to expose the use of torture as government policy. Silencedchronicles the government’s prosecution of Kiriakou under the Espionage Act, a century-old law intended to target spies, not whistleblowers.
Standing by Kiriakou in the film is Thomas Drake, now universally-recognized as a whistleblower (even by the government). Drake exposed billions of dollars of waste and abuse at the NSA to multiple internal oversight bodies, including the Inspector General and Congress, only to have his concerns ignored. Finally, Drake shared unclassified information about the massive fraud to a Baltimore Sun reporter, who wrote a series of award-winning articles that exposed the billion-dollar NSA boondoggle. The Justice Department indicted Drake under the Espionage Act and he faced 35 years in prison until the case collapsed for lack of evidence.
A critical and moving contribution to the narrative on whistleblowing, Silenced makes clear the personal costs of whistleblowing in an era when telling the truth about government waste, fraud, abuse and illegality can mean facing a federal criminal investigation and prosecution under the Espionage Act. The film’s screening schedule is here.