In the post-Snowden age of NSA surveillance and what many see as the Obama administration's targeted attack on leakers and press freedoms, the group's straightforward message is no secret: “Whistleblowers Welcome at ExposeFacts.org.”
A project of the Institute for Public Accuracy, the new group's primary purpose will be to facilitate the leaking of corporate or government malfeasance by giving potential whistleblowers a place to submit sensitive documents and/or creating a secure line between such individuals and journalists working in the public interest.
In remarks prepared for the group's launch, Ellsberg expressed his emphatic support for the group's interlocking goals of supporting whistleblowers and journalists as both seek to preserve essential democratic values.
"All governments lie, and they all like to work in the dark as far as the public is concerned," said Ellsberg. "A country that wants to be a democracy has to be able to penetrate that secrecy, with the help of conscientious individuals who understand in this country that their duty to the Constitution and to the civil liberties and to the welfare of this country definitely surmount their obligation to their bosses, to a given administration, or in some cases to their promise of secrecy."
According to the group, the job of its five-member editorial board (supported by a 40-member advisory board) will be to assess all submitted material and, if deemed appropriate, arrange for journalistic release of that information. The founding editors include: journalism professor and author Barbara Ehrenreich; former executive director of The Fund for Investigative Journalism and reporter for The Washington Post John Hanrahan; communications and media director at IPA Sam Husseini; independent journalist and radio host Sonali Kolhatkar; and journalist and IPA co-founder Norman Solomon.
Ellsberg called the government's increasingly powerful ability to track or discover a journalist's interaction with his or her sources a "deadly threat to democracy" and said ExposeFacts' stated desire to counter that "technological onslaught" is one of the key reasons the group has garnered his support.
The groups says its aim is "to shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war” and its website features a whistleblower submission system known as “SecureDrop.”
SecureDrop, developed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, allows individuals hoping to share sensitive information a more secure way of doing so by using encryption software and tactics developed specifically to avoid government surveillance techniques.
According to the group:
While no software can provide an ironclad guarantee of confidentiality, ExposeFacts—assisted by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and its “SecureDrop” whistleblower submission system—is utilizing the latest technology on behalf of anonymity for anyone submitting materials via the ExposeFacts.org website. As journalists we are committed to the goal of protecting the identity of every source who wishes to remain anonymous.
As part of its public launch, the group created this ad, featuring Ellsberg, which it has posted in at least one bus stop shelter in Washington: