Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Day of Revelations

Today's big news was that the secret identity of Deep Throat, the source for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's Washington Post articles about Watergate - articles that began the process than ended with President Nixon's resignation. Woodward and Bernstein promised to keep Deep Throat's identiy a secret until his death.

The source was Mark Felt, second-in-command at the FBI, who oversaw the FBI's day-to-day operations. Felt kept the secret, even from his own family, until yesterday. He revealed the story to Vanity Fair magazine, and it was confirmed by the Washington Post later in the day.

Read the whole story in this Washington Post article. It requires a free registration, and it's well worth it.

A less-reported story tells the tale of Lisa Leitten, a spy for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who secretly videotaped animal welfare conditions inside Covance Laboratories, a Vienna, VA-based drug developer. Read the AP story here, which includes lots of doubts about whether Leitten's actions were legal and/or ethical.

What do you think? Are people like Mark Felt and Lisa Leitten justified in whistleblowing and spying? Would you do the same? And if they don't, how can we face up to powerful political and business interests when they act unethically?

3 Comments:

Blogger Slag said...

UPDATE:

Nixon aides are unsurprisingly pissed.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 9:16:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Well, I've written previously on the relationship between civil disobedience and consequences. While these aren't examples of civil disobedience, per se, they are examples of law/rule breaking in the service of a higher ethic.

Then again- maybe not- as Brayden pointed out over on Pub Sociology, Felt wasn't just acting out of personal morality, but also out of organizational loyalty. We could make the same claim about Leitten. Is it ethical to violate laws out of loyalty to a particular organization? If so, does that make Mafia activity more honorable?

I think I would argue that it's probably for the best that we have people willing to do such things, but that it's also for the best that they have a real fear of punishment.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger Brayden said...

Drek makes a good point - to what organizations are Felt and Leitten to be held accountable? I think in both instances their identities were tightly linked to an organization that validated their actions and guided their ethics. I'm actually reading a book right now about business/organizational ethics, so I'll get back to you if I have any more bright ideas.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 10:37:00 AM  

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