"his cries of rage as he plunged to his death, cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship"

I thought it was a big deal at the time because nobody had ever done that and it took a lot of courage to do stuff like that back then,” said Bamford.

Fellwock knew breaking his oath of secrecy would put him on a collision course with the government. That spring, Rennie Davis—his friend and an anti-war activist—had declared, "If the government won't stop the war, the people will stop the government.”

Fellwock took the message to heart. He had followed the fallout from the leak of the Pentagon Papers a year earlier with interest and hoped his disclosures might spark similar public outrage. If he was prosecuted for the article, all the better: It would just bring more attention to the government’s misdeeds

“What I wanted to do was stop the war, and I was willing to do anything possible to stop the war,” Fellwock told me. “I was crazy.”

In person, Fellwock was nothing like the haunted paranoiac I’d argued with on the phone. He had a wide, friendly face. He immediately apologized for his previous skittishness. “After my family and my attorneys heard what I told you about, they freaked,” he said with a laugh.

We went to a nearby diner. Fellwock ordered chicken fried steak, folded his hands across his chest, and began to tell me how he’d gone from a normal childhood in Joplin, Missouri to the front page of the New York Times. There was no one decisive moment, he said, only a long process of disillusionment, mirroring many other young Americans' disillusionments in the '60s.

Read More | "After 30 Years of Silence, the Original NSA Whistleblower Looks Back" | Adrian Chen | Gawker