This weekend, University of California-Berkeley will be celebrating President's Day by celebrating whistleblowers. Seems apropos, no? After all, most government whistleblowers are patriotic civil servants who are extremely dedicated to the welfare of our country, and blow the whistle at great personal risk.
As our third president (Thomas Jefferson, if you don't recall your American history lessons) said, "There is no truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world." The conference itself used this quote and it fits. We can only hope that more and more people start to take this view.
The university will be hosting Occupy the Truth: Whistleblowers Conference this weekend, February 17-19. It will feature well-known whistleblowers as well as a "participant-driven environment" for networking and whistleblower support strategies.
GAP National Security & Human Rights Director (and Department of Justice whistleblower) Jesselyn Radack and GAP client (and National Security Agency whistleblower) Tom Drake will be speaking on Saturday. Also featured are Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, former State Department official (and Iraq war critic) Ann Wright, and former CIA agent and intelligence activist Ray McGovern, all three of whom will be discussing the plight of Bradley Manning – the solider accused of giving classified information to WikiLeaks – in a panel this (Friday) evening.
Unlike most conferences, Occupy the Truth seeks to be as influenced by its participants as it is by its speakers. Indeed, a number of Occupy Oakland members plan to attend, as well as citizens who obviously care about government transparency. The conference will also tap into social media and live streaming in an effort to engage those who are not able to attend in person.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.