Video is now available online of the GAP sponsored presentation by thought leaders, whistleblowers and journalists. The event brought members of the press and public to the National Press Club in Washington, DC to participate in a very necessary discussion on the current state of US national security, the NSA surveillance program, and the future of whistleblowing and journalism in the United States of America.
GAP returned to Auburn University and its School of Accountancy for the fourth stop on its 2012-2013 American Whistleblower Tour last Thursday (Jan. 31), bringing with us whistleblowers Frank Casey, who sought to expose Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme with his Rampart Investments partner Harry Markopolis, and Jon Oberg, who saved taxpayers billions of dollars after exposing illegal payments of federal tax to student loan providers. Auburn’s War Eagle spirit supporting whistleblowers and ethics education was off the charts!
The evening panel presentation (centerpiece of most Tour stops) attracted a crowd of nearly 300 students, faculty, staff, and members of the public. In riveting detail, Casey described the nine-year hunt to expose Madoff, and the utter failure of the SEC to act on information he and Harry Markopolis presented to the agency multiple times before the Ponzi scheme collapsed. Oberg’s incredible account of his efforts to research and stop illegal payments to lenders of federally-guaranteed student loans resonated with the accounting students. Oberg's case closely tracked the classic stages of a whistleblower’s experience:
American Whistleblower Tour visited Franklin & Marshall College (F&M), a small liberal arts school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This third stop of our 2012-13 collegiate tour brought prominent whistleblowers Kenneth Kendrick (food safety) and Rick Piltz (climate science) to campus to share their experiences with the public and help educate students – our country's incoming workforce – about the phenomenon of whistleblowing.Earlier this month, GAP's
The main event on Thursday, January 17 featured a panel discussion as part of F&M's weekly televised Common Hour series. GAP President Louis Clark gave an overview of notable whistleblower cases and laws passed to better protect truth-tellers in the government and private industry, including the recently enacted Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act for federal employees. He then moderated a Q&A with Kendrick and Piltz about their incredible truth-telling experiences.
Kendrick was an assistant plant manager for the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), where he witnessed numerous public health violations at their Plainview, Texas facility – including rodent infestation and a leaky roof, which he explained can transport Salmonella from bird feces into products. After he left PCA, he made his disclosures public on Good Morning America amidst the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak tied to PCA's peanut butter (which sickened 714 people across 46 states, contributing to nine deaths). Only then did state health officials finally take a look at the Texas plant. Learn more about Kendrick’s whistleblowing here.
Although Kendrick unveiled major threats to the food supply, he struggled to find work afterwards. "I've been told at three separate job interviews that they won't hire me because I'm considered a whistleblower," he told the audience. Students were surprised that other whistleblowers had not come forward, and after the event, one young woman personally thanked Kendrick for the risks he took in service to the public.
The Hanford Nuclear Facility, with the dubious distinction of being the most contaminated nuclear site in the Western Hemisphere, was the focus of the second stop on this academic year’s American Whistleblower Tour. Last Nov. 29, GAP partnered with Hanford Challenge – a spin-off organization that works to protect employees of the Hanford Nuclear Facility – and Hanford whistleblower Dr. Walt Tamosaitis to bring a dynamic presentation to Whitman College, located an hour from Hanford.
Liz Mattson of Hanford Challenge set the context for the rousing discussion with a presentation about Hanford’s history – one shrouded in secrecy as the facility manufactured plutonium for atomic bombs. For over five decades, several hundred billion gallons of contaminants were released into the air, soil, and nearby Columbia River. While no longer producing plutonium, the facility is responsible for cleaning up the 53 million gallons of highly radioactive and hazardous waste that are sitting in 177 underground tanks … many of which are leaking and all of which are long past their designed lifespan.
GAP’s American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability kicked off its second year at the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) with a stirring event featuring Kathryn Bolkovac, an International Police Task Force human rights investigator in Bosnia who, while working to support the UN Peacekeeping mission in that country, discovered and exposed the involvement of officers and military contractors in human trafficking and forced prostitution. On Monday, Nov. 5, over 200 people watched the hard-hitting film The Whistleblower, the inspiration for which was Bolkovac’s story, and were moved to a standing ovation when Bolkovac took the stage for a discussion at the film’s conclusion.
GAP International Program Officer Shelley Walden – co-author of a recent report detailing serious problems with the UN’s internal justice system and accountability in its peacekeeping missions – moderated the event, which started with an overview of GAP’s work advocating for and protecting whistleblowers for over 35 years. She then outlined the six stages of whistleblowing (Discovery, Disclosure, Retaliation, Isolation, Solidarity, Vindication), setting the stage for the film’s screening.
Here's the pitch: A tough, yet honorable Army vet joins the NYPD, where he is suddenly thrust into the underbelly of rampant police corruption, and, in the dramatic climax, is shot – and nearly killed – exposing the truth. Sounds like it would be an awesome movie, right? Lucky for you, it is. Even luckier? It's a true story.
This afternoon (April 24), GAP's American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability comes to John Jay College with NYPD whistleblower Frank Serpico (i.e. the "tough, yet honorable" cop). This Tour stop is highlighted by a discussion with Serpico about his experience blowing the whistle, moderated by GAP Legal Director Tom Devine.
Serpico joined the NYPD in 1959 at the age of 23. He was a police officer for 12 years, and during his last several years on the force, his attempts to report police corruption to his superiors in the department fell on deaf ears. Serpico ultimately decided to go to The New York Times, which published an exposé on police corruption in the NYPD. He was later shot in the face during a "buy and bust" operation in 1971, and nearly died. Many people believe that he was set up by police, in order to silence him. Later that year, he testified in front of the Knapp Commission, appointed to investigate pervasive police corruption. His story is the subject of the excellent 1973 film Serpico, starring Al Pacino.
Last night, a packed auditorium of nearly 300 people listened to the stories of three courageous human beings whose heartfelt belief in speaking the truth led each to become something they never expected: whistleblowers.
And not just any whistleblowers, but whistleblowers who exposed problems in one of the government's most sensitive areas – national security. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, NSA whistleblower/GAP client Thomas Drake, and DOJ whistleblower/GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack were the featured speakers at GAP's American Whistleblower Tour stop at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Their panel highlighted the importance of exposing national secrets about abuse and corruption in government. These high-profile whistleblowers garnered extensive media coverage, with angles ranging from event coverage to personalized profiles and interviews of the whistleblowers themselves.
On March 23, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) brings its program, the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability, to the Seattle University School of Law. The stop will feature prominent whistleblowers Richard Bowen (Citigroup), Walt Tamosaitis (Hanford Nuclear Site) and John Munsell (contaminated meat/ConAgra/USDA).
GAP's Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating university students, and the general public, about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. This Tour stop is highlighted by a panel presentation featuring high-profile whistleblowers discussing their experiences, and is being sponsored by the Seattle University School of Law and the Seattle University Albers School of Business & Economics.
The GAP program, the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability, comes to Tulane University on Tuesday, February 28. This Tour stop will feature a panel presentation by prominent national and New Orleans-based speakers discussing how whistleblowers promote transparency and accountability in key issues facing local residents, such as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, police accountability, and the BP oil spill disaster. This event is sponsored by GAP, Tulane University, and the New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance (NOCOG).
GAP's Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly America's university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. Many stops, including Tulane, feature an in-depth presentation that explains how whistleblowers have furthered public interest causes around the local area.
A full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org.
GAP Legal Director and panelist Tom Devine, who has been protecting whistleblowers at GAP for nearly 35 years, stated: "From Katrina to the Gulf oil spill, there are many courageous whistleblowers around New Orleans who need to be heard and protected. Truth-tellers are the best resource for Louisianans to regain control of their future."
Wednesday, February 22 beginning at 5:30 p.m.!
There will also be a reception following the Tour Stop and you are personally invited to attend the event and the reception!
Paul Robeson Campus Center, Rutgers-Newark Multi-Purpose Room
1. From New Jersey Turnpike or Route 95 (North or South)
2. From Garden State Parkway (North or South)