In SILENCED: The War on Whistleblowers, three Americans reveal the persecution they've faced after they dared to question U.S. National Security policy in post 9/11 America. Everyone knows the name Edward Snowden, the fugitive and former intelligence contractor, but Academy Award nominated documentarian James Spione introduces us to three other whistleblowers of the era, speaking for the first time in one film, who discuss in dramatic and unprecedented detail the evolution of the government’s increasingly harsh response to unauthorized disclosures.
Exploring the unique courage and character it takes to challenge unethical behavior from within the American national security establishment, SILENCED: The War on Whistleblowers offers a provocative critique of systemic failures of the U.S. government and its draconian over-reactions. The film, through its vivid characters, challenges the national narrative (some would say myth) from which mainstream discourse seldom deviates: of America the victim, of America protecting liberties at home and abroad. The documentary ultimately asks what the chilling ordeals endured by those who question official policy mean for the future of America.
SILENCED: The War on Whistleblowers includes exclusive first-person accounts from Jesselyn Radack, the former Justice Department lawyer who challenged the Bush Administration’s treatment of American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh; Thomas Drake, the former senior official at the NSA who helped expose the massive waste and illegality of the earliest warrantless surveillance programs aimed at American citizens; and John Kiriakou, the ex-CIA officer who was the first official to publicly acknowledge waterboarding as sanctioned government policy, whom we follow closely as he attempts to defend himself against Espionage Act charges while struggling to keep his family afloat.
Deftly weaving Mr. Kiriakou’s unfolding predicament with compelling whistleblower interviews and stylized reenactments of their personal journeys, SILENCED: The War on Whistleblowers explores how the extraordinary campaigns of intimidation and punishment carried out by government authorities wreak havoc on the personal lives of those who decide to speak out about wrongdoing. Following the case of John Kiraikou as it happens, audiences will for the first time experience the emotional, moral and financial struggles of a whistleblower, and the effects on himself and his family as the full weight of the government’s legal apparatus is unleashed against him.
On February 3rd 2015, John Kiriakou was released from prison to house arrest after serving 2 years. Kiriakou is one of 8 government employees charged under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration. This includes fugitive Edward Snowden, living in exile in Russia. That's more than all former administrations combined.
SILENCED: The War on Whistleblowers is directed by James Spione, produced by Daniel J. Chalfen and James Spione for Morninglight Films.
J. Chalfen and James Spione
Director of Photography
Original Score by
Commissioning Editor for ZDF/ARTE
Main Title Design
String Theory, NY
Sandy Patch, Final Frame, NYC
design and mix
Original Music Recorded and Produced