Read more »
As the 111th Congress draws to a close, the heat is on
to confirm James Cole as Deputy Attorney General. Despite the last-minute push, Cole still has serious problems that haunt and disqualify him
from taking a senior position at the Justice Department.
From 2005 through December 2009, James Cole served as an independent monitor
in the Compliance Office of the American International Group (AIG), placed there by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as part of a deal that allowed AIG to escape prosecution for fraud.
While Americans and their elected representatives are notorious for their short attention spans, it’s worth remembering, in this case, that AIG was the corporation that nearly drove the US economy off a cliff in September 2008. AIG’s Financial Products Division (AIG-FP), based in London, wrote credit default swaps involving staggering amounts of money that had to be covered with a US government bailout in the range of $180 billion.
Read more »
Main Justice: Sessions Thwarts Movement on Deputy Attorney General Nominee
James Cole/Bryan Cave LLP
The nomination of James Cole to the position of Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department (DOJ), which has been stalled in the Senate since he was endorsed in July, continues to draw Republican opposition. On Thursday, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) prevented the Senate once more from considering Cole, highlighting concerns about Cole’s previous role as an independent consultant (IC) for AIG. If a decision is not made before the Senate adjourns in a few weeks, the nomination will be sent back to President Obama.
GAP largely criticized Cole's nomination, as whistleblowers at AIG informed us about serious problems with Cole’s oversight practices as IC. This led to GAP posting several questions to Cole online via YouTube and continually blogging about the highly questionable practices he employed.
The New York Times: Britain Arrests WikiLeaks Founder in Sex Inquiry
WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange was arrested today in London on behalf of Swedish authorities for charges related to alleged sex crimes. According to Assange’s lawyer, the specific allegations and evidence have still not yet been made clear.
WikiLeaks has vowed to continue publishing leaked documents, despite the detention of its founder.
On the Media (NPR): WikiLeaks and Protections for Federal Whistleblowers
Read more »
This OTM segment features a one-on-one interview with GAP Legal Director Tom Devine. He discusses the current, inadequate protections for government whistleblowers and the need to pass the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) -- a bill that may be brought up to vote soon in the Senate. Devine also comments on the potential effects of the WikiLeaks controversy on the pending legislation.
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Agency Won't Release Air Marshal Report
A report requested from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of a whistleblower investigation into a Las Vegas field office of the Federal Air Marshal Service has been difficult to obtain. Controversy over the report intensified when DHS refused to give a copy of the document to an Arizona congresswoman, despite several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The report is considered a key piece of evidence in a series of retaliation cases filed by former Marshals who were either fired or left the agency after raising concerns about mismanagement at the Las Vegas office. Mentions GAP Legal Director Tom Devine, and GAP client Robert MacLean.
Key Quote: Tom Devine, legal director of the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, said alleged misconduct in the Las Vegas field office, even if it occurred several years ago, needs to come to light.
"The report could expose the secret history of a government agency that may have set the pace for betraying the public trust," he said.
Devine said federal employees lack adequate recourse against retaliation and called on Congress to pass a bill that addresses that issue. Devine's group represents former Las Vegas-based air marshal Robert MacLean, who has spent nearly five years challenging his dismissal from the TSA for revealing a plan to cut back security on flights during a time when the agency was warning of a heightened risk of terrorist attacks using commercial planes.
NorthJersey.com: Bergen Regional Cited for Deficiencies in Whistleblower Lawsuit
Summary: A former nurse at a New Jersey medical center is filing a whistleblower complaint, claiming she was “threatened, harassed and finally terminated” for raising concerns about abuse and mistreatment of patients at the center.
Read more »
On Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a memo forbidding unauthorized federal employees from accessing WikiLeaks from their government or personal home computers.
While federal agencies are not hesitating to censor federal employees when it comes to WikiLeaks, the agencies fail to mention the vast over-classification of information or that WikiLeaks is not the only place to find classified information on the Internet. If the U.S. wants to stop unauthorized employees from accessing classified information, it will have to stop them from reading not only WikiLeaks, but The Washington Post, The New York Times, and countless other MSM outlets, books, and the Internet.
By singling out WikiLeaks, the U.S. is again sending the message that it is not concerned with leaks of classified information, only uncontrolled leaks of classified information.
BBC World News: Interview with Jesselyn Radack
Read more »
GAP Homeland Security and Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack discusses WikiLeaks, NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA).
Radack also blogged on the interview here.
The New York Times: WikiLeaks Struggles to Stay Online After Cyberattacks
After its American Internet domain name provider terminated service, WikiLeaks has reappeared with a Swiss domain name, Wikileaks.ch. According to WikiLeaks and the Internet provider, the service was withdrawn due to massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks -- assaults designed to bombard a website with requests in order to make it unavailable to its intended users.
Senator Joseph Lieberman took credit for an earlier removal of the WikiLeaks website from servers on Amazon.com after one of Lieberman’s aides contacted the company. However, Amazon claims that WikiLeaks was removed for violating its terms of service, including “that a user own the rights to the content they're posting and that the content not harm anyone.”
I was just on BBC World News discussing Wikileaks, Thomas Drake, and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). It is sheer hypocrisy for the U.S. to scream literally bloody murder about Wikileaks (calling for Wikileaks' Julian Assange's execution) without giving employees a safe alternative to anonymous leaks.
Recent revelations from the ACLU that despite being given an unprecedented blank check to collect data, the NSA is still thwarting regulations and over-collecting only underscore the importance of protecting whistleblowers. As of now, Drake, who went through proper channels to blow the whistle on NSA's privacy-shredding data collection debacles, has been indicted under the Espionage Act.
The hypocrisy comes when going through the proper channels as Drake did, sticks you in the same position the Justice Department is looking to put Julian Assange in: indicted under the Espionage Act.
Read more »
When Thomas Drake saw the NSA was embarking on a wasteful multi-billion dollar data collection boondoggle with an unnecessary expense to Americans' privacy rights, Drake, being what the main-stream-media has dubbed a "classic whistle-blower," reported the waste of taxpayer money through all the proper channels: to his bosses, the Inspectors General, and to the Congressional Intelligence Committees. The thanks Drake received was a criminal indictment.
Read more »
Associated Press: In WikiLeaks Wake, Whistleblower Bill Set To Pass
By Wikimedia user Lkmorlan
In the wake of the latest WikiLeaks release, Congress is on the verge of passing the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) -- a bill that would give federal employees, including those in sensitive government positions, the ability to report corruption, waste, mismanagement and illegality within their agencies. The WPEA bars retaliatory actions against intelligence officials who raise concerns to their superiors, and would thus discourage whistleblowers from giving information to outside organizations like WikiLeaks.
In order to highlight the perils that whistleblowers now face without adequate protections, GAP released a report yesterday detailing the cases of 12 government officials “whose employers sought to enforce secrecy though repression,” and underscoring the need to pass the WPEA.
Key Quote: Without protections spelled out in law, whistle-blowers risk being fired or demoted for informing their chains of command about misconduct, according to Tom Devine, legal director at the Government Accountability Project. That leaves no alternative to anonymous — and potentially damaging — leaks unless whistle-blowers are willing to jeopardize their careers, he said.
"Until this law is passed, WikiLeaks will continue to be the safest option for whistle-blowers unwilling to engage in professional suicide," said Devine, who is coordinating support for the bill from a coalition of more than 60 public interest and advocacy groups. Click here to sign a petition to demand that the WPEA be passed.
Click here to sign a petition to demand that the WPEA be passed.
Sydney Morning Herald: Accused Whistleblower 'Just Wanted to Live a Normal Life'
This article looks at the current state of Private Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who is being held at a military base for allegedly passing diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. A friend who saw Manning in recent weeks said he is doing “surprisingly well,” and a look into his background shows that he was driven by the hope that the leaks would spur “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.”