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Washingtonian: NSA Espionage Trial Could Avoid Calling Reporter to Stand
A judge ruled in a hearing last week that Thomas Drake – the NSA whistleblower who has been indicted for retaining classified information in conjunction with a series of news articles that revealed wrongdoing at the agency – could introduce the news articles as evidence in his case.
The prosecutor in the case, William Welch, stated that he has “no interest in subpoenaing the reporter” who wrote the NSA series. Yet, Welch has subpoenaed journalists in the past, most recently in the case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, in which Welch attempted to force New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal his sources.
Key Quote: Advocates for Drake chastised the government for pointing the finger back at the defense. “It’s ridiculous for Welch to blame the defense for wanting to subpoena a reporter,” says Jesselyn Radack, an attorney with the Government Accountability Project, which has filed motions on Drake’s behalf. “Welch is the one who put the newspaper articles at issue by making wild allegations about them in the indictment – conveniently leaving out one of Drake’s main ground rules: that he would never give the reporter classified information.”
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On The Media (NPR): The Conclusion of the Blow the Whistle Project
This piece discusses the history, impact, and conclusion of GAP and On The Media’s Blow the Whistle Project – a campaign to identify the senator who used a secret hold to kill the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) last Congress. During the campaign, which asked GAP’s supporters and On The Media’s listeners to call their senators and ask if they were the party who wrongfully killed the WPEA, we were able to rule out nearly every senator as being a suspect.
In this interview, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine revealed that one of the two remaining senators – Senator Kyl and Senator Sessions – placed the hold on the WPEA at the request of House Republican leadership. Devine also spoke about the future of the WPEA, stating that the bill is expected to be reintroduced shortly in the Senate. One of On The Media’s listeners also detailed her experience trying to get her senator to give a statement regarding the secret hold.
GAP wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our supporters who participated in this campaign. Because of your efforts, whistleblower rights for all federal employees are closer to becoming a reality.
Click here to read GAP’s press release.
Related Article: Newsworks.org
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This past weekend, GAP and the NPR show On The Media (OTM) announced an end to their "Blow the Whistle" campaign, which sought to identify which U.S. Senator placed a 'secret hold' during the final hours of the last session of Congress, killing the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). The crowd-sourcing effort, which relied on citizens to contact their respective senators and report back findings, led GAP and OTM to eliminate all but two senators during the three month campaign.
A shocking revelation about the 'secret hold' emerged during the campaign. According to GAP, based on multiple sources inside congressional offices, one of the two remaining senators killed the bill at the request of Republican leadership in the House of Representatives
GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented, "Whistleblowers risk their professional lives to fight government fraud, waste and abuse. How can taxpayers trust any politician who campaigns on that pledge, and then secretly kills rights for government workers who risk their careers to deliver it? House leadership owes taxpayers an explanation as to why they started sabotaging those campaign promises just weeks after the election, before they even began governing. Even more important, Speaker John Boehner owes taxpayers a commitment that this will not happen again."
GAP and OTM are able to confirm, based primarily on information from our supporters and listeners (respectively), that all but two senators were not responsible for the hold on the bill. The final, remaining suspects are Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona, and Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Both Senate offices have steadfastly refused to identify which one formally placed the hold. But the distinction is academic. Four times now since 2004, these two senators have taken turns placing holds that blocked Senate action on the WPEA.
Senator James Risch’s (R-ID) office has confirmed that he had no policy objections to S. 372 last Congress. The Senator’s office held firm to its policy that “it dos not comment on secret holds”; however, through deductive reasoning, he does not fit the bill, so to speak. In turn, GAP has removed Senator Risch from the tapering list of prospective senators that placed the hold on S. 372.
That leaves Senators John Kyl and Jeff Sessions, both part of the Senate leadership team. Four times now since 2004, their offices have taken turns placing holds that blocked Senate action on the WPEA. As reported earlier, Sen. McConnell’s office has denied placing the hold, and Sen. Kyl provided a rather cryptic response to your queries:
“The Senate passed S. 372 on Dec 14, 2010 and the House passed a different version of the legislation on Dec 22. With only hours left in the session, the Senate did not have sufficient time to review the House’s changes and reconcile the differences between the two bills.”
Read more on Sen. Kyl’s response here.
Be sure to tune in this weekend to On The Media, GAP’s partner in the campaign, when GAP Legal Director Tom Devine and the OTM staff will announce the end of the campaign, reveal what we’ve found, and explain where we go from here!
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.
This weekend, GAP and On The Media will conclude our campaign to identify the senator who placed the anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), effectively killing the bill at the end of the last congressional term. GAP Legal Director Tom Devine will wrap up the campaign and its findings on On The Media.
Since the campaign began in early January, we were able to rule out nearly every senator as being a suspect. After the list of prospective senators was narrowed down to five (as a result of your steadfast advocacy!), over 1,000 people signed our Change.org petition urging these remaining senators to either confirm or deny placing the hold. This increased pressure allowed us to further eliminate Senator McConnell and Senator Vitter, leaving only Senator Risch, Senator Kyl, and Senator Sessions as potential suspects.
Please check with your local NPR station to see what time On The Media will air this weekend, and tune in to listen to Tom Devine speak about the conclusion of the campaign, and where we're going from here!
Additionally, GAP wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our supporters who participated in our campaign. Because of your efforts, whistleblower rights for all federal employees are closer to becoming a reality.
Lindsay Bigda is Communications Fellow for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.
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This week the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) wrapped up its Annual Meeting in Calgary, Canada. The stream of press releases issuing from there included one about accountability, which, for unknown reasons, referred to the 2010 Development Effectiveness Overview. It included this glowing but ambiguous quote:
The report summarizes the actions taken by the Bank in 2010 to measure and improve the social, economic and environmental impact of the IDB’s work throughout the region. It reports on the development impact of several ongoing IDB projects in the region, in areas such as agriculture, education and on the Bank’s work in Haiti, offering a unique opportunity to share important lessons learned with policymakers and the public in general.
Notice that the reference does not claim any actual effectiveness. Nor does it allude to accountability. Instead, we find that the Bank has taken “actions;” its work in Haiti offers a “unique opportunity;” and there are “important lessons learned.”
This is not surprising. The more independent (although not completely so) Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE) at the IDB had released a different report five months before the Annual Meeting. The OVE report drew dismaying conclusions about the same point: researchers found that IDB projects are not “evaluatable.” Worse than that: in 2009, Bank projects lent themselves even less to objective evaluation than 2001 Bank projects did. In other words, accountability in IDB projects is decreasing not increasing.
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MSNBC: 'Culture of Cover-up' - Whistleblower Suit Filed Against Calif. Nuclear Plant
A former manager at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, one of the two nuclear power plants in California, filed a whistleblower lawsuit yesterday against the facility’s operators.
The whistleblower claims that he was fired for raising safety concerns, including chronic fatigue among workers and "shortcuts on testing new generators, unreported safety violations, falsifying records and promoting a culture of cover-up."
Related Article: Reuters
Reuters: Jimmy John's Franchise Fires Union Workers After Sick-Day Campaign
Six workers at the sandwich chain Jimmy John's were fired for putting up posters in support of paid sick days. The signs suggested that customer health was at risk when eating at the restaurant because employees are forced to work while sick. This comes after a vote last year failed to unionize the fast food workers, even though voting results were nullified in January due to unfair practices by the franchise owners to sabotage the vote.
The New York Times: Low Levels of Radiation Found in American Milk
Levels of radioactive iodine -- below that of public health concern -- have been found in milk samples from Washington state, according to the EPA. It is confirmed that the iodine is from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.