Message to whistleblowers of appreciation and long overdue credit

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President Obama signed S. 743, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, into law today. The legislation provides millions of federal workers with the rights they need to report government corruption and wrongdoing safely. “After a 13-year campaign, federal whistleblowers will now have a fighting chance when depending on free speech rights for professional survival,” as Government Accountability Project legal director Tom Devine put it in his Thanksgiving Message to Whisteblowers.

Government Accountability Project press release, November 27: President Signs Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

CSW post November 15: New whistleblower law will significantly strengthen federal employee protections

Re-posted from the GAP Whistleblogger:

A Thanksgiving Message to Whistleblowers: Of Appreciation, and Long Overdue Credit

by Tom Devine on November 26, 2012

This year the whistleblower community has something special to be thankful for – the House and Senate’s unanimous approval of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). After a 13-year campaign, federal whistleblowers will now have a fighting chance when depending on free speech rights for professional survival. GAP's and other press releases made the obligatory rounds offering appreciation to national leaders and NGO’s, who deserved it.

As one who was at the eye of the storm, it’s just not possible to stay cynical after depending on the extra efforts that made this victory possible – a common commitment, pit bull persistence and extra effort from ideological constituency extremes; bipartisan legislators working in teamwork during partisan gridlock; a President and White House staff uniquely supportive of rights for those attacking the administration; and most important, whistleblowing profiles in courage who are the foundation for – and soul of – these free speech rights. This is my message of thanks, and credit is due to the whistleblowers in our community. You have been the point of this campaign, because you make a difference that society needs. But you also have been on the front lines of making a difference. Since we are a transparency coalition, this also is a disclosure of why I think you deserve thanks.

Experience: You not only risked your professional lives and made a difference, you shared a breathtaking scope of experiences. As illustrative examples, over the years you’ve given me permission to share lessons learned from committing the truth, and to spotlight you as poster children for free speech reform after you ended government secrecy about:

      • prescription drugs that kill the patient
      • the risks behind plans to eliminate federal inspection of government-approved meat and poultry
      • cover-ups of air safety violations that have caused unnecessary crashes with mass fatalities
      • blanket domestic surveillance of all electronic communications
      • torture and other violations of human rights conventions
      • arbitrary detention, body cavity searches and hospital laboratory testing for drugs imposed on foreign visitors at airports
      • SEC suppression of Wall Street corruption prior to the financial collapse
      • unheeded pre-9/11 warnings that could have prevented the hijacking
      • government plans to abandon Air Marshal coverage during a confirmed, more ambitious 9/11 rerun
      • an eighteen month failure to deliver Mine Resistant Armored Vehicles, the cause for one-third of corresponding casualties in Iraq
      • corruption diversion of funds  for treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury among our combat-returning veterans
      • arming Mexican drug cartels
      • the causes and scope of the threat to society from climate change
      • government-enabled corporate clear cutting on national forests
      • failure to act on safety and security breakdowns at nuclear power plants and weapons facilities; and
      • paying employees not to work.

There are many more. In each case, you paid a price by blowing the whistle. But in each case, you made a difference. Sometimes it was around the margins of an issue, with an impact on the individual level. Sometimes it was to expose the truth as a foundation for lessons learned and ongoing struggle.  Sometimes you prevented massive loss of life, or changed the course of history. In each case you made a difference without viable rights. That’s one reason it has taken 13 years to substantially even the playing field. There’s no telling what you can accomplish with credible free speech rights. You are the worst nightmare for those abusing their power to betray the public. They knew the WPEA would reduce their power to silence you. They used every trick in the books to defeat it. But in the end, no responsible national leader or politician could say no to the truth of your collective experiences. …

Read the rest of Tom's statement here.

Archive: CSW posts on whistleblowing

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3 Responses to Message to whistleblowers of appreciation and long overdue credit

  1. Tony O'Brien says:

    This is good news. Let us hope the enhancement proves to be real and not illusory.

    Sorry; I have seen too much of government to start hip hip horraying just yet.

    To the whistleblowers of the world my heartfelt appreciation.

  2. Anne says:

    How does it go? What the right hand giveth, the left taketh away? GAP's Jesselyn Radack posts on Daily Kos and on the GAP blog:

    White House "Insider Threat" Memo Will Silence Whistleblowers
    She reports on an offical WH memo to the exec branch announcing a new task force on 'insider threats' in the federal gov't to design programs 'to deter, detect, and mitigate actions by employees who may represent a threat to national security.' Translation, the memo reinforces the Obama administration's woeful confusion of whistleblowing with espionage, according to Radack, and will create redundant programs since there are already mechanisms in place for accomplishing this. The worry is that would-be-whistleblowers may still fear that they'll be accused of espionage, or worse, Tom Drake style, despite new protections with the now law signed by POTUS. A watchful eye will be needed to see how this all plays out in the coming months and years.

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