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240 Years of Leakers


Photos: AP (Ellsberg); Bob Daugherty/AP (Felt); Jacquelyn Martin/AP (Drake); Katsumi Kasahara/AP (Armitage); Peter Dejong/AP (Leibowitz); Patrick Semansky/AP (Manning); Joseph Siffrein Duplessis (Franklin)

Ronald Reagan said Washington was “one giant ear” and considered forcing lie-detector tests on his staff, while Nixon wiretapped the “criminally traitorous” in his midst. President Obama, meanwhile, has prosecuted snitches at a historic rate. So what makes leakers leak when the fallout is often swift and severe? Government contractor Edward Snowden, who slipped reporters a PowerPoint slideshow revealing the NSA domestic-spying program, offered a patriotic rationale. Most of them do.

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