International Program Update – Wrongdoing at the World Bank; A Landmark UN Decision
|GAP's Shelley Walden spoke with Al-Jazeera about a very positive decision from the UN Dispute Tribunal.|
With a new World Bank president taking office last weekend, this Forbes cover story looks at how corruption and mismanagement permeates the ranks and programs of the institution. The Bank, as the long-form article details, is plagued by widespread opaqueness, decision-making marked by conflicts of interest, and questionable financial practices. According to a former director interviewed by Forbes, “the inmates are running the asylum.”
The piece also touches on how the Bank has a terrible record on whistleblower rights. Specifically, this companion Forbes article highlights the trials of World Bank whistleblower and GAP client John Kim, who gave internal documents to the media after he determined there were no effective internal channels for reporting wrongdoing. In retaliation, he was put on administrative leave and eventually fired. After he filed an appeal, the tribunal ordered him reinstated, but – despite this landmark ruling – he was forcibly retired a few months later.
Turning to the United Nations, last month, the UN Dispute Tribunal sided with a whistleblower rather than the institution. The Tribunal ruled that the Ethics Office, which is charged with reviewing retaliation complaints and safeguarding the interests of UN whistleblowers, failed to protect the whistleblower, who was fired after he raised concerns about corruption in the UN Kosovo mission. This decision sends an important message to the UN Ethics Office – that the judges in the new internal justice system will not tolerate failures to properly apply the UN whistleblower protection policy.
|GAP's Jesselyn Radack talks to The Listening Post.|
GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack has been blogging this past month on the recent “leaks hysteria,” the media coverage of classified national security information making its way to the press. There has been bipartisan support in calling for an investigation into the leaks.
As Radack explains, this kind of rush to plug leaks could lead to an Official Secrets Act, which would severely hinder whistleblowers and their pursuit of exposing wrongdoing. The latest hysteria over "leaks" stems from both a) the Obama administration's record-breaking Espionage Act prosecutions of suspected "leakers," who are usually whistleblowers, and b) Congress' justifiable outrage at the Obama administration's hypocrisy of prosecuting low and mid-level officials while feeding the media pro-government information that the administration continues to claim is classified.
Earlier this month, The Listening Post program on Al Jazeera took an in-depth look at the Obama administration’s crackdown on intelligence whistleblowers. The first half of the episode looked at the six Espionage Act prosecutions of intelligence whistleblowers under Obama – especially the one brought against NSA whistleblower and GAP client Thomas Drake – and the effect it has on American journalism. GAP Executive Director Bea Edwards was among the interviewed. The second half of the program is showcased by an extensive interview with Radack – also a Department of Justice whistleblower in the case of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.
Schools in National Lunch Program Reject Pink Slime
According to the Department of Agriculture, most states that have made ground beef purchase orders for the upcoming school year have said "No!" to beef products containing ammoniated beef trimmings, also known as "pink slime."
Only three states so far have chosen to order beef that contains pink slime. GAP's Food Integrity Campaign explains each of these states' ties to the beef industry, including to the company that makes the controversial filler – Beef Products, Inc. (BPI).
The overwhelming decision to reject pink slime in school lunches (since USDA announced in March it would give schools the choice) has sent a clear message to BPI, which failed to meet the consumer demand for food integrity. While the recent firestorm around pink slime is relatively new, former employee-turned-whistleblower (and GAP client) Kit Foshee has been speaking the truth about pink slime for years.
Julian Assange & Intelligence Whistleblowers
Over the past few weeks, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been the subject of huge media attention, as the UK Supreme Court denied Assange’s appeal to reopen his extradition case. Set to be transferred to Sweden, Assange instead took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and applied for political asylum. He has been staying there now for two weeks, awaiting a decision.
As a leading voice for the rights of intelligence whistleblowers, GAP’s Jesselyn Radack was featured in several media reports on the issue. You can read/watch her appearances here: RT, The Alyona Show, and RT again.
Report on Corporate Whistleblowers Shows Improvements, Setbacks
The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) – a research-oriented nonprofit aimed at promoting high ethical standards in business – released its 2011 National Business Ethics Survey (NBES) report in June, and the results are a pretty mixed bag.
On one hand, the percentage of corporate employees surveyed who said they've seen misconduct at work fell to just 45 percent, compared to 49 percent in 2009 and a record high of 55 percent in 2007. Also, the number of those who are reporting that misconduct at work is at a record high (65 percent). This is up an impressive 12 points from 2005 (53 percent).
Negatively, however, the ERC also reports "ominous warning signs of a potentially significant ethics decline ahead." Retaliation against employees who reported misconduct rose 10 points from 2007 to 22 percent. That's more than one in five who faced some sort of retaliation for their disclosure. In addition, 42 percent of companies are reported to have weak ethics cultures, a steep rise from 35 percent two years ago.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.