• You Wanna Help Ed Snowden? Here’s How…

    June 3, 2015 // 4 Comments »

    snowden hopex

    One of the reasons Ed Snowden is not in prison is because he has great lawyers who have been willing to work pro bono on his behalf.

    I’m no Ed Snowden, but one of the reasons I am able to write this blog is because I had great lawyers in my fight against the State Department who were willing to work pro bono on my behalf.

    The one thing Snowden and I do really have in common is that we are represented by the same group of lawyers, the men and women at the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU can always use a financial hand, but today’s request for help is aimed specifically at the Government Accountability Project.

    The Government Accountability Project’s office which works specifically on national security whistleblower cases and represents clients who cannot afford legal fees for free, is facing a funding crisis. You can imagine the legal efforts that have been necessary to help Snowden, Tom Drake, John Kiriakou, Bill Binney (and me) through sometimes years of government efforts to silence them.

    The government has lots of money and resources; whistleblowers have only the Government Accountability Project.

    So here it is: please go to the Government Accountability Project GoFundMe page and give something.

    They have a group lined up to offer matching donations, so even a small contribution doubles itself automatically. Your donation is tax-deductible in the U.S. You can donate anonymously.

    The next whistleblower who will change history is out there, sitting in some government office, wondering if s/he will be alone when it is time to act on conscience and tell you the kind of things only someone inside the system can know. If you read this blog, I know you want to help him or her. Now, there is a way.

    FYI: I receive no money from any of this. My only association with the Government Accountability Project is as their legal client. They saved me and I’d kneel on broken glass if I thought that would help them continue their work.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy

    Open Letter to Congress from Federal Whistleblowers: Strengthen Protections

    July 26, 2012 // 3 Comments »

    Over the course of the last year or so I have met many men and women who risked their freedom, their careers and their livelihoods to expose government waste, fraud, unconstitutional domestic spying, torture and more– “blowing the whistle” as it has come to be known.

    Instead of talking about what is a whistleblower, maybe it is better to say why is a whistleblower. Some easy points: No one intends to do this, starts out with a plan, hides among unsuspecting bureaucrats for say 15-20 years waiting for the right moment to tear down the wall. No gray ponytails, no earrings or Grateful Dead tattoos among us. We’ve heard of Anonymous in the same way we’ve heard of Lady Gaga but don’t know either well.

    We’re made. We’re made by what the government does, and what we witness. If government did what the founders expected it to do– public service– we would not be here, like the mushrooms that don’t pop up on the lawn. Unfortunately, it’ll be awhile before that happens.

    The thing is, there should be more of us and not simply for the cheap reveal that the government does lots of naughty things. It probably does, but the reasons why there should be more whistleblowers is because so much of what we see is seen by so many. You have a right to know how your tax money is being spent. To allow more people to stand up and tell the public what is really going on inside government, whistleblowers need to be protected. There need to be meaningful protections for conscientious truth tellers in government. Otherwise you– the people– will know less and less about what your government really does behind closed doors, just the way the government would like things to be. Nice and quiet, nothing to see here, move along and enjoy your Hulu.

    That is where this Open Letter from whistleblowers on the WPEA comes in. While Congress has provided credible rights for private sector whistleblowers, rights for government workers are weak.

    Take a moment to read through the Letter, and then forward it to your Congressperson.

    If you’d like to learn more about or donate to organizations that work to protect whistleblowers, both the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) are excellent places. I personally owe much to both groups for protecting me. While GAP and POGO support this letter, it is organized by whistleblowers Evy Brown and David Pardo.

    Bonus: Since I published the letter above, US Marine Corps whistleblower Franz Gayl has also signed.

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    Posted in Democracy

    Interview: Talking Back to Power

    March 19, 2012 // Comments Off on Interview: Talking Back to Power

    I joined Jess Radack of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) on the Alyona Show to talk about the government’s war on whistleblowers, how free speech may be an export item for the US, but is not wanted at home when it criticizes our own government.

    (If the video is not showing above, please follow this link to view it)

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    Posted in Democracy

    Brush-Back Pitch: Special Counsel Takes on FDA over Email

    February 16, 2012 // Comments Off on Brush-Back Pitch: Special Counsel Takes on FDA over Email

    The war between the Government, which claims it is free to do whatever it wants, and its own employees, who continue to insist their duty is to the People, not to their bosses, rages. Here’s another skirmish.

    The Food and Drug Administration secretly monitored the private e-mail accounts of six of its own scientists and doctors who had warned Congress and the White House that medical devices they were reviewing were approved or pushed toward approval despite safety concerns. Among the communications, made on agency computers, were e-mails the employees wrote to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which reviews disclosures about government wrongdoing and retaliation against those who report it (Full disclosure: The Government Accountability Project has filed a complaint with the OSC on my behalf against my employer, the Department of State, claiming State’s actions against me are retaliation for the book I wrote critical of their actions n Iraq).

    On Wednesday, attorneys for the employees and two prominent Republican lawmakers asked the special counsel to investigate whether the employees’ communications with the office, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the inspector general that oversees FDA operations were protected under federal whistleblower laws. The attorneys and lawmakers say the e-mails were confidential and should not have been intercepted.

    The idea is that certain communications are de facto private, even if made on a government or company computer. The message, not the tool used, controls.

    “The confidentiality of these communications was broken,” said Stephen M. Kohn of the National Whistleblowers Center, whose firm is representing the plaintiffs. “As part of their official duties, they have the right to disclose confidential concerns. Employees throughout the government can work on these matters on paid time.”

    The FDA tried but failed to have criminal charges brought against the whistleblowers for disclosing sensitive business information. The agency fired or harrassed the others.

    Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner warned against government monitoring of email communications with her office.

    One hopes that the State Department is following the FDA case and not monitoring its own employees’ emails to their lawyers, the OSC or Congress, especially this time of year when Congress has budget requests in front of it. State’s monitoring of its own employees’ emails as a retaliatory tactic also flies in the face of all the barking Hillary does about internet freedom in China and Iran. Perhaps if the State Department had an Inspector General to review such matters internally things would be better. Awkward!

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    Posted in Democracy

    Dark Days for Government Whistleblowers

    January 4, 2012 // Comments Off on Dark Days for Government Whistleblowers

    Antiwar.com has an excellent article online now about Thomas Drake (right), a former NSA employee who exposed government spying on Americans, lost his job and almost went to jail over the trumped up charges that followed. Drake ultimately was only convicted of a single misdemeanor, but saw his career and life almost destroyed.

    Drake, reminds Antiwar.com, is not alone:

    Today, Drake says that 9/11 exposed all of the secrecy and cynicism and venal impulses of a government he once defended and believed in. Though not outwardly analogous, his case is not so different from other post-9/11 whistleblowers and truth-tellers, like Anthony Shaffer or Peter Van Buren, who both lost their security clearances, their government careers sidelined as though they were suddenly “enemies of the state.”

    Drake was vindicated by the efforts of the Government Accountability Project, a powerful organization determined not to see the abuse of authority.

    “At one point they said what Tom had done was endangering soldiers’ lives,” said Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for the Washington DC-based Government Accountability Project, which defended Drake during the prosecution and has a long list of whistleblower clients (Radack is also a whistleblower, having exposed the FBI of committing ethics violations – and a cover-up – when it interrogated American John Walker Lindh without a lawyer present in 2001).

    “They want to tag anyone who questions anything that happens as being unpatriotic. They are using laws that were meant to go after spies to go after whistleblowers. We have someone here who is trying to serve his country and blows the whistle on government illegality,” she said. “For the prosecution to say he is endangering lives is just offensive.

    The entire article is sobering but important reading. See Antiwar.com for more.

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    Posted in Democracy