BZ Buzz

The BZ Cast – Leaking or Whistleblowing?

Benjamin BryantLeaking continues to play a major role in US politics – from email leaks on both sides during the 2016 election to former FBI Director James Comey’s recently leaked memos, their impact on public perception and even policy has been significant. But despite President Trump’s harsh rhetoric on leakers (similar to the Obama administration before him), is leaking actually illegal? Some leakers consider themselves whistleblowers performing a public service by exposing morally questionable government activity. Is there a legal difference between leaking and whistleblowing? BZ President and CEO Benjamin Bryant sat down with veteran military lawyer Christopher Nuneviller in the newest BZ Cast episode for a concise but comprehensive overview of leaks and the legal intricacies that come with this controversial topic.

Here are a few of the questions addressed in the 40-minute podcast:

  1. Does a leaker or whistleblower’s motivation matter from a legal standpoint? Does clear “good intent” make a difference?
  2. Can the nature or severity of the leaked material make a difference as to whether or not the leaker faces prosecution?
  3. Are there cases where leaking or whistleblowing is either outright protected or at least fully legally defensible? Do whistleblower protections ever apply to federal Government or military personnel, and are they absolute?
  4. If a formal channel for making an official report does not exist, what other options does a federal employee or military member have? Some have said that Edward Snowden, for example, should have gone to Congress.  Is that realistic or even possible?
  5. In order to seek legal advice, should one fully disclose the information in question to a lawyer or is that a crime in and of itself, despite the protected nature of the communications?

Listen to the full podcast above, or on SoundCloud here:

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