The United States’ drone assassination program is illegal under international law, but the whistleblower who exposed it, Daniel Hale, is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Chip Gibbons of Defending Rights and Dissent describes who Daniel Hale is and why his act of leaking information about the program to a journalist is akin to Daniel Ellsberg leaking the Pentagon Papers. Gibbons also places Hale’s action in the broader context of FBI surveillance, the war on whistleblowers and other truthtellers, such as Julian Assange, and the assault on our right to know.
Chip Gibbons is an expert on US Constitutional law, a journalist and researcher focusing on the US national security state, and a longtime activist. For over half a decade, he has led Defending Rights & Dissent’s work exposing threats to political expression posed by US national security policy, as well as defending the right to protest. Chip has advised both state and federal lawmakers on the First Amendment implications of pending legislation. He is a frequently cited expert on the history of FBI political surveillance and the impact of the Espionage Act on press freedoms. Chip is currently working on a book on the history of the FBI exploring the relationship between domestic political surveillance and the emergence of the US national security state. Titled The Imperial Bureau, it is expected to be published by Verso in 2024.
Chip was an early contributor to the Dissent NewsWire. In 2015, he formally joined Defending Rights & Dissent after having led a successful campaign to defeat a proposed unconstitutional anti-boycott bill in Maryland. Since joining our team, he has hosted the Still Spying podcast and authored the groundbreaking reports Still Spying on Dissent: The Enduring Problem of FBI First Amendment Abuse and Ag Gag Across America: Corporate-Backed Attacks on Activists and Whistleblowers. He has led efforts to educate decision makers and the public alike about the need to reform the Espionage Act, rein in the FBI, and restore constitutional war powers.
Chip has been published in Jacobin, The Nation, In These Times, and The Washington Post. In 2020, he published an exposé at The Intercept based on his half decade long quest to force the FBI to release documents pertaining to its surveillance of nonviolent Palestinian solidarity activists. Bringing his journalistic talents to Defending Rights & Dissent, he did extensive first hand reporting on the unprecedented prosecution of Trump Inauguration protesters.