Edward Snowden: A Controversial Whistleblower

Was Snowden a whistle blower? You must provide the following in your response:

  1. Was he a whistleblower, yes or no?
  2. What is the legal definition of a whistle blower? (you can’t use go to dictionary.com, you must provide a legal definition)
  3. What laws exist to protect whistle blowers in the USG?
  4. What systems exist to allow USG employees to report concerns of fraud, waste, and or abuse?
    Finally, in conclusion to support your argument, does Snowden fall under the legal definition of a whistle blower. Did he attempt to follow procedures?
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Sample Answer

Title: Edward Snowden: A Controversial Whistleblower


Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, ignited a global debate when he leaked classified documents in 2013, revealing extensive surveillance programs conducted by the US government. This essay will explore whether Snowden qualifies as a whistleblower, examining the legal definition of a whistleblower, relevant laws protecting whistleblowers in the US government (USG), and the systems available for reporting concerns of fraud, waste, and abuse. Through this analysis, it will become apparent whether Snowden meets the criteria of a whistleblower and whether he attempted to follow established procedures.

Was Edward Snowden a whistleblower?

Yes, Edward Snowden can be considered a whistleblower due to his disclosure of classified information regarding the US government’s surveillance activities. While opinions on his actions differ, the term “whistleblower” is often used to describe individuals who expose information revealing illegal or unethical activities within an organization or government.

Legal definition of a whistleblower

The legal definition of a whistleblower can vary, but generally, it refers to an individual who discloses information about wrongdoing or misconduct within an organization or government entity. In the context of the USG, the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) provides the following definition: “an employee who discloses information they reasonably believe evidences a violation of law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”

Laws protecting whistleblowers in the USG

Several laws exist to protect whistleblowers within the USG:

a) Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA): Enacted in 1989, the WPA provides protection to federal employees who disclose information about wrongdoing or misconduct. It prohibits retaliatory actions such as termination, demotion, or harassment against employees who make protected disclosures.

b) Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA): Established in 1998, this law provides protection to employees in the intelligence community who report violations of law, regulations, or abuse of authority. It offers mechanisms for reporting concerns and protection against retaliation.

c) Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX): Although primarily focused on corporate whistleblowing, SOX also includes provisions that protect employees of publicly traded companies from retaliation for reporting fraud or financial misconduct.

Systems for reporting concerns of fraud, waste, and abuse

USG employees have several avenues to report concerns:

a) Office of Special Counsel (OSC): The OSC is an independent agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting prohibited personnel practices and protecting federal employees’ rights. It provides a secure channel for reporting misconduct or wrongdoing within the USG.

b) Inspector General Offices (IGs): Each federal agency has an Inspector General responsible for investigating fraud, waste, and abuse within their respective agencies. These offices provide confidential channels for employees to report concerns.

c) Whistleblower Ombudsman: Some agencies have designated Whistleblower Ombudsmen who assist employees in understanding their rights and protections under whistleblower laws and help facilitate reporting.


In conclusion, Edward Snowden can be considered a whistleblower based on the legal definition and his disclosure of classified information regarding government surveillance activities. The Whistleblower Protection Act and other laws protect individuals who disclose information related to wrongdoing or misconduct within the USG. While Snowden’s actions were controversial and did not strictly adhere to established procedures, his intentions align with those of a whistleblower seeking to expose potential violations of law and abuses of authority. Ultimately, whether one supports or condemns Snowden’s actions depends on their perspective regarding government secrecy and individual privacy rights.


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