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GAP and a group of bipartisan watchdog organizations released a letter to the Senate yesterday strongly opposing a provision in the Intelligence Authorization Bill (S. 719) that would threaten First Amendment rights for current and retired intelligence community workers, and deny due process to challenge agency retaliation.
Section 403 of the legislation grants the Director of National Intelligence and intelligence agency heads the unprecedented authority to penalize federal employees in the intelligence community - including depriving them their pensions - based simply on the Director's own “determination” or discretion that an employee knowingly disclosed classified information to an unauthorized party.
The government already is authorized to strip pension benefits from employees or former employees convicted of illegally disclosing classified information. However, under current law the agency must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged misconduct took place. In stark contrast, the letters warns:
This legislation would remove independent due process by giving the DNI the power, even where no charges are brought against the employee, to establish the procedures for fact finding, appeal, or review of an agency determination that classified information was improperly disclosed to unauthorized persons. Such procedures do not provide the independent due process and public accountability afforded in criminal trials.
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Join GAP and Georgetown University's Law School for an online event today (Thursday, April 21) at 5:15 p.m. EDT to discuss GAP's newly released step-by-step guide to corporate whistleblowing, The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide: A Handbook for Committing the Truth.
The authors of the book, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine and litigator Tarek F. Maassarani, will be speaking alongside notable whistleblowers whose disclosures play an important role in current pivotal issues:
- Wendell Potter, the noted health insurance company whistleblower who authored Deadly Spin.
- Dr. Janet Chandler, who earned a Supreme Court landmark victory against hospital fraud with help from her then-lawyer Barack Obama, will share her marathon ordeal.
- Larry King, the nuclear whistleblower who was Project Manager for the Three Mile Island cleanup. His whistleblowing on reckless cleanup practices likely prevented a meltdown after the accident.
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Washington Post: BP Files Suits Against Gulf Rig Owner and Maker of Blowout Preventer
In order to spread the blame and financial burden of the Gulf oil spill's $40 billion damage costs, BP has filed suit against two other companies -- Cameron, maker of the blowout preventer that failed, and Transocean, owner of Deepwater Horizon rig -- whose "negligence" and "faulty design" (says BP) caused the fatal accident a year ago. A Transocean spokesman dismissed the allegations as excessive and said BP put the rig in jeopardy "through a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk -- in some cases severely."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Nix the Six - Nixon Should Veto a Bill That Would Increase Workplace Discrimination
This masthead editorial argues that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon should veto legislation that would reverse previous court decisions protecting workers from employer retaliation. A bill that has already passed the State Senate and House, which supporters claim will promote job creation, would actually make it easier to fire whistleblowers by raising the standard for proving discrimination cases. The bill also makes it difficult for workers to obtain back pay.
According to the article, an additional section of the legislation pushed by industry interests would even make "it harder, not easier, for whistleblowers to seek protection."
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Investor's Business Daily: Encourage Staff Frankness
This article argues that in order to be an effective CEO, creating a safe office culture for whistleblowers is essential. If viewed as problem solvers, truth-tellers can help the company recognize fraud and other wrongdoing. It mentions GAP legal director Tom Devine.
GAP will be speaking with notable whistleblowers at an online event this Thursday in honor of its newly published step-by-step guide to corporate whistleblowing, The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide: A Handbook for Committing the Truth.
Key Quote: "If people have the freedom to warn, they can help their (employers) prevent avoidable disasters so things don't spiral into finger-pointing and litigation," said Tom Devine, legal director at the Government Accountability Project, an advocacy group in Washington.
"As factual information goes up the food chain, sooner or later it reaches someone who's at fault and tries to stifle the information," said Devine, who recently wrote "The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide" and has represented 5,000 informers in litigation. "The ombudsman must be able to leapfrog this."
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Miami Herald: President of CompUSA, Tiger Direct Fired
The CEO of computer and electronics retailers CompUSA and Tiger Direct will be fired in the immediate future, as a result of an anonymous whistleblower complaint. An independent investigation into the company and CEO Gilbert Fiorentino was initiated after a still-unspecified whistleblower disclosure was submitted internally.
The CEO of Systemax, the parent company of CompUSA and Tiger Direct, praised his company's "internal processes" that led to this action.
Maine Public Broadcasting Network: Maine Egg Farm Workers Allege Labor Violations
An egg farm facility in Maine tied to the DeCoster Egg chain -- the company in the middle of last summer's massive Salmonella outbreak -- is being criticized for its alleged shocking treatment of workers. Specifically, the article details claims that workers lack basic safety equipment, are not paid for hours worked, are being physically assaulted, and that those who question their supervisors or expose problems are fired. Additionally, immigrant workers who speak little English may be being exploited.
Click here to read more about this at GAP's Food Integrity Campaign blog.
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GAP is proud to announce the release of the single most comprehensive publication ever created about corporate whistleblowing, The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide: A Handbook for Committing the Truth. Published by Berrett-Koehler, this step-by-step guide details key information that potential business whistleblowers should know before, during, and after blowing the whistle.
Topics include: whistleblowing strategies that have proved successful; common pitfalls; key survival tips; typical retaliatory tactics; working with the media; available resources and help groups; and current legal protections, just to name a few.
The authors of the book, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine and former GAP litigator Tarek F. Maassarani, will be speaking at an online event this Thursday alongside notable whistleblowers from the nuclear and healthcare industries. Noted health care whistleblower Wendell Potter will participate.
Praise for the book has been overwhelming. Many high-profile whistleblowers and good government advocates have reviewed the book and hailed its importance for truth-tellers everywhere. The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide is filled with essential tips for navigating every step of the whistleblowing process -- from detailing what individuals should do if they are simply considering taking action to expose wrongdoing, to navigating the storm of retaliation that inevitably follows.
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Legal Times: Senate Confirms New Special Counsel
Last week, the Senate approved the nomination of Carolyn Lerner as Special Counsel at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the office charged with investigating federal whistleblower disclosures, protecting them from retaliation, and defending the merit system. The office’s former leader, Scott Bloch, resigned over two years ago, and was sentenced last month to one month of jail time for withholding information from Congress.
Click here to read GAP’s statement on Lerner’s confirmation.
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: CVS Whistleblower to Get $2.6M Reward
CVS has agreed to pay $17.5 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a pharmacist in St Paul. The suit alleges that the company inflated prescription prices and overbilled the federal government’s prescription program in several states.