GAP kicked off its American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. National Security Agency whistleblower Tom Drake, SEC whistleblower Gary Aguirre, and Kansas City Star reporter Mike McGraw joined GAP President Louis Clark and National Security & Human Rights (and DOJ whistleblower) Jesselyn Radack for a full day of events, including class presentations and intimate discussions with students. The main event, however, was a phenomenal panel presentation in front of an estimated 1,800 – 2,000 Nebraskans at UNL's Lied Center (video above).
The entire visit was a celebration of whistleblowers and their importance to society. Drake, Radack, Aguirre, and McGraw began the day by describing their experiences to local media and various classrooms. Students responded tremendously to hearing from those who have been in the trenches, fighting corporate and government wrongdoing. The university also coordinated a whistleblower-themed film festival in the days leading up to the event, showing Serpico, Silkwood, The Informant!, and The Insider.
The big draw, of course, was our 70-minute panel discussion focusing on the ethical considerations faced by whistleblowers. Drake, Aguirre, and McGraw served as panelists, while Radack moderated (while recounting her own incredible story) and Clark emceed. Through the show, each whistleblower discussed what drove them to come forward – all first within their organizations, and then (eventually) to advocacy organizations, the media, and Congress. McGraw discussed the vital relationship between journalism and whistleblowing in protecting the public interest, citing his own experience working with whistleblowers (one notable example is GAP client George Sarris, who exposed a lapse in military aircraft maintenance at a Nebraska Air Force Base).
After the panel, several students, who were moved by the whistleblowers' stories, approached the participants to shake hands and speak with them individually.
The event was a rousing success, as each stop of the Tour has been thus far. Click here for more information on the Tour.