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Democracy Now!: WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Says He Wanted to Show the Public the “True Costs of War”
Military whistleblower Bradley Manning went to court on Friday and pled guilty to 10 charges, still facing as many as 12 more charges at an upcoming court-martial. The most serious of these remaining ones is ‘aiding the enemy,’ which could send Manning to prison for life. The soldier said his intent was not to harm the US but rather to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” Manning has indeed sparked such a debate while bringing about a certain level of embarrassment to the United States and their allies, an outcome that the whistleblower predicted. He will not be sentenced until all 22 charges have been brought against him.
Related: RT America
Rolling Stone: The New Political Prisoners – Leakers, Hackers and Activists
This Rolling Stone feature compounds the stories of a number of modern American political prisoners. The stories of people like military whistleblower Bradley Manning and CIA/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou indicate that today, information transparency activists and whistleblowers are considered a threat by the US government, in some cases more so than individuals or agencies that commit the wrongdoing.
Breitbart: Obama Trashes Whistleblower Protection for Federal Employees
A presidential memorandum issued at the end of January could cancel whistleblower rights for essentially any federal employee. The memo – which allows federal agencies to fire, without the possibility of retaliation, any employee designated ‘national security sensitive' – runs entirely against the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) signed into law at the end of last year.
Key Quote: “The proposed rule doesn’t include a gag order but the proposed rule says no federal employees can defend themselves under civil service law. This includes the list of (civil) protections. If employees are removed, agencies don’t have to explain themselves, when they say ‘You’re no longer suitable for a sensitive position.’ It’s all in-house,” said [Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom] Devine.
On the Media: States Consider So-Called 'Ag-Gag' Bills
A discussion of the various anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bills that essentially "criminalize information" collected and distributed outside of agricultural operations, affecting not only undercover investigators but also journalists.
Long Island Press: NDAA, Indefinite Detention and the Battle Raging Against the Most Important Law You’ve Never Heard Of
More attention is being garnered for the Indefinite Detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. The provision, using vague language and non-precise definitions, allows the military to detain individuals – even Americans – without defining the terms of their imprisonment.
Former New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges is leading the Supreme Court-bound case against the government, though he has been joined by many prominent whistleblowers, including GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, who continues to battle the provision.
Watch Radack and the panel of prominent whistleblowers speaking out against the NDAA provision in New York last month.
RTAmerica: Countdown to Freedom – CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Begins Jail Sentence
GAP client and CIA/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou began his 30-month jail sentence last Thursday for exposing the torture tactics used by the CIA during the Bush administration.
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This week, GAP and other good government partners sent a letter to Congress, requesting adequate funding for the Office of Special Counsel – the agency charged with protecting federal whistleblowers and investigating their disclosures. During a period when our government is cutting spending across the board, it remains essential that our nation sufficiently fund the sole agency that pays for itself by working with whistleblowers to ferret out government waste, fraud and abuse. The letters opens:
“As you contemplate another continuing resolution for Fiscal Year 2013, our undersigned organizations which are deeply interested in government accountability urge you to increase funding for the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). We should be investing in this government watchdog with a mission to protect whistleblowers because it is extremely effective and does valuable work that returns dividends to taxpayers.”
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, signed into law last November, gives the OSC expanded responsibilities that could greatly increase our government’s ability to root out wasteful spending and protect the public trust. However, OSC must have the resources to perform its expanded role under the WPEA. As detailed in the letter, the WPEA:
- makes changes to legal standards in the whistleblower law, which will increase the number of cases in which OSC conducts full investigations;
- clarifies and adds to the personnel practices that are prohibited in response to disclosures of wrongdoing, and therefore can be investigated by the OSC;
- expands OSC’s jurisdiction by extending protections to over 50,000 passenger and baggage screeners working for the Transportation Security Administration;
- reverses court decisions that had undermined the law. To defend and preserve the intent of Congress, the OSC may have to pursue more litigation, including more formal disciplinary action cases aimed at deterring prohibited personnel practices;
- provides the OSC with authority to file friend-of-the-court briefs to support employees appealing MSPB rulings.
Los Angeles Times: Bradley Manning Pleads Guilty to Some Charges in WikiLeaks
Army whistleblower Bradley Manning pleaded guilty yesterday to sending classified documents to the WikiLeaks website, but pleaded not guilty to other charges, including violations of the Espionage Act. He is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge from the military, and is scheduled to face a court-martial in June on the charges that remain outstanding.
Related Article: The New York Times
TribecaFilm: Susan Sarandon Supports "Silenced" on Kickstarter and So Should You (VIDEO)
Actress Susan Sarandon showed her support for Oscar-nominated filmmaker James Spione's new documentary SILENCED this week in a YouTube video, discussing the important issues of government whistleblowing raised in the film.
Digital Journal: CIA Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou Reports to Jail
News coverage of GAP client John Kiriakou's first day reporting to jail to start his 30-month prison term after whistleblowing on the federal government's torture program.
GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack spoke on KBOO Radio (starting at minute 29:25) about how she finds it particularly abhorrent that Kiriakou is the one going to jail while those involved in carrying out and justifying torture are not.
Albany Tribune: Lawmakers Introduce Targeted Wall Street Trading Tax
GAP joined many other organizations in supporting newly introduced legislation that would place a tax on certain trading activities undertaken by banking and financial firms. Its aim, according to sponsors, is to reduce the deficit and "discourage the kind of reckless high-volume trading that contributed to the financial crash in 2008."
San Francisco Bay Guardian: Oakland School Cop Comes Forward as a Whistleblower
During his deposition testimony, an Oakland School Police Department officer alleged there was unethical behavior surrounding the department's involvement in the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man two years ago. He said he felt that any statements he gave against the district would result in him being thrown in jail for perjury.
International Business Times: Sequester Cuts – Rise of Factory Farm 'Gag' Laws Show Why Food Safety Cuts are Troubling
More coverage of the various anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bills, this time pointing to them as another reason food safety budget cuts under the sequester are concerning.
Related: Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.
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Today, Feb. 28, CIA/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou will report to the Federal Correctional Institute in Loretto, Pennsylvania, to begin a 30-month prison term. Kiriakou's attorney, GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, and NSA whistleblower Tom Drake (who was also charged under the Espionage Act) will accompany Kiriakou to the facility, where he is expected to report by 12:00 p.m.
Initially, the Obama administration charged Kiriakou with violating the Espionage Act. The Obama Justice Department has indicted six whistleblowers under the Act – more than all past administrations combined. Late last year, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. In exchange, prosecutors dropped all other charges.
Kiriakou is the sole CIA officer to face jail time for any action involving the federal government's torture program. Ironically, Kiriakou, the whistleblower on the program, will go to prison, while the agents who implemented it will not. (More on Kiriakou below.)
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CIA/Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou Reports to Prison Today
CIA/Torture whistleblower and GAP client John Kiriakou begins serving his 30 month jail sentence today. Though he heads for incarceration, he is going to jail feeling optimistic, saying he wears his conviction as a "badge of honor." Kiriakou is the sixth person to be charged under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration, more than in all previous administrations combined. Yesterday, he spoke with CNN about his upcoming prison sentence.
The trial has been financially ruinous for Kiriakou, his wife and their five children. In a show of solidarity for the whistleblower, GAP has set up a John Kiriakou Support Fund.
GAP honored Kiriakou last month, just days before his sentencing, with an event in Washington DC.
Officials Caution Food Safety Risk Under Sequester; Concerns are Old News to USDA Whistleblower
GAP's Food Integrity Campaign Investigation & Outreach Coordinator Alyssa Doom blogs about federal officials' concerns regarding the impact the looming sequester could have on food safety. She asserts that these concerns are nothing new for USDA whistleblower Phyllis McKelvey, who has petitioned against the government's plan to reduce federal oversight at poultry processing plants.
The Telegraph: WikiLeaks – Bradley Manning to Defend Himself as Whistleblower in Court
Military whistleblower Bradley Manning goes to court today, is expected to take the stand, and has offered to plead guilty to some of the charges against him. The soldier has already released a lengthy statement outlining his hope that his disclosures would “spark a domestic debate on the role of our military in our foreign policy in general.”
Prosecutors still hope to prove that the information Manning shared with WikiLeaks will show a direct benefit to al-Qaeda. If convicted of this, Manning could face life imprisonment.
Related Articles: NPR, The Guardian, NBC
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New Documentary SILENCED Raising Money on Kickstarter to Tell the Story of Government Whistleblowers
Oscar-nominated filmmaker James Spione is producing a new documentary, SILENCED, about the war on intelligence whistleblowers. It will feature GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, along with whistleblowers (and GAP clients) Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou and Peter Van Buren. To raise funds for the documentary, Spione has launched a Kickstarter campaign. Learn more about the campaign and watch the trailer on the GAP blog.
Bloomberg: Obama Memo On ‘Sensitive’ Jobs Stirs Whistleblower Fears
President Obama released a transparency-threatening memorandum late last month which seeks, from key intelligence officers, "new rules to allow federal agencies to fire employees without appeal if their work has some tie to national security." The designation would indicate that employees are unable to appeal any decision removing them from their place of employment.
Coupled with other recent legal decisions, essentially the memo could disable whistleblower rights for federal government employees who have the most opportunity to protect the public at large. GAP's Legal Director Tom Devine and troop safety whistleblower (and GAP client) Franz Gayl are prominently featured.
Key Quote: “There is so much secrecy, and employees have so few rights already in the national security bureaucracy,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a Washington-based whistle-blower advocacy group. Devine said whistle-blowers’ actions can save lives.
He cited a case involving Franz Gayl, a Marine Corps science and technology adviser. Gayl raised questions in 2007 over the postponed delivery of mine-resistant armored vehicles for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and later lost his security clearance."
HuffPost Live: Do Whistleblowers Need More Protection?
Devine, GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack and former GAP client Kenneth Kendrick discuss the current state of whistleblower rights in today’s work environment. Kendrick blew the whistle on the Peanut Corporation of America plant where he worked after discovering health and safety hazards were causing deadly salmonella in peanuts.
Food Service Workers Win a Voice at American University; Push Continues at Other DC Campuses (VIDEO)
GAP's Food Integrity Campaign discusses the success of UNITE HERE in including whistleblower protections in union contracts for American University food service workers. The organization is pushing for stronger worker voices at campus dining halls throughout the nation's capital.
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The Guardian: Liberal Dems Appoint Whistleblowing Charity Following Harassment Claims
The Liberal Democratic party of Great Britain has announced it will appoint the independent whistleblower charity Public Concern at Work (PCaW) – an international coalition partner of GAP's – to advise the party following accusations of sexual harassment, particularly by one senior party figure. PCaW is a pro-whistleblower rights organization that specializes in advising individuals and institutions on resolving dilemmas in the workplace through encouraging truth-telling practice.
The organization will operate alongside an internal investigation committee taking complaints and witness accounts concerning the allegations against the senior party official, as well as hearing any other whistleblower concerns.
Related Articles: Telegraph
‘Corruption Comebacks’: Suzanne Folsom on Duty at Academi (XE, Blackwater)
Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a "day in the life" column from Suzanne Folsom, general counsel and chief compliance officer of the controversial security firm Academi (previously known as Blackwater and XE). GAP has followed Folsom since she came under scrutiny at the World Bank in 2008 and then again when she left AIG with a hefty severance package.
In this blog, GAP Executive Director Bea Edwards imagines what Folsom's professional life might be like now.