First Stop of Nationwide Tour Slated for University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Stop Will Feature Prominent Whistleblowers, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist
(Washington, DC) -- The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is excited to announce a national tour dedicated to raising awareness of whistleblowing. The kick-off event for the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability will take place later this month, September 27, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly America's university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. The Lincoln stop is the first of at least seven Tour stops that GAP plans for the current academic year.
A full description of the Tour can be found at: http://www.WhistleblowerTour.org
The focal point of each Tour stop is a panel featuring high profile whistleblowers discussing their experiences. The Nebraska event includes:
- National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Tom Drake: The case of Tom Drake made national headlines this past summer, and the prosecution of him by the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to receive widespread coverage. Drake attempted to expose massive NSA mismanagement and the agency's use of a data collection program that was more costly, more threatening to American citizens' privacy rights, and less effective than a readily-available alternative. For his actions, Drake's house was raided, and he was subsequently charged under the Espionage Act, facing 35 years in prison. The case against him collapsed in June, when he pled guilty to exceeding authorized use of a government computer – a misdemeanor. The DOJ dropped all 10 felony counts against him, and the judge excoriated Department lawyers for their conduct.
- Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblower Gary Aguirre: In 2006, Gary Aguirre rocked the financial world by alleging wrongdoing by SEC officials for their failure to not allow a proper investigation to proceed, possibly due to political connections. Aguirre is a former SEC lawyer who was dismissed by the agency following his attempt to subpoena John Mack – a prominent financial figure who later became the CEO of Morgan Stanley – in an insider trading investigation of Pequot Capital Management, one of the country's former leading hedge funds. Aguirre's story sparked outrage, a Congressional investigation, and (eventual) vindication by the U.S. Senate. Aguirre has been featured in major media reports over the past months, as he now represents a prominent SEC whistleblower who disclosed that the agency has been "systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations" once such cases were closed.
- Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower Jesselyn Radack: Radack is a former ethics adviser to the Department of Justice who disclosed that the FBI committed an ethics violation in its interrogation of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh without an attorney present, that the DOJ attempted to suppress that information, and that former Attorney General John Ashcroft made an incorrect public statement about Lindh. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11. Since her ordeal, Radack has been a champion of whistleblowers, recently serving as counsel on whistleblower issues to Tom Drake. She serves as GAP National Security & Human Rights Director.
- Kansas City Star investigative reporter Mike McGraw: Mike McGraw is a Pulitzer-Prize winning special projects desk reporter for The Kansas City Star. McGraw has covered a wide range of issues, including organized labor, meatpacking, the federal judiciary, NASA, occupational safety and health issues, building collapses, food safety, housing issues and art world fraud. He is a former member of the board of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a contributor to IRE's The Reporter's Handbook. McGraw has taught investigative reporting at the Missouri School of Journalism and the University of Kansas, and has worked with several whistleblowers on his stories.
Other coordinated activities around this tour stop include classroom presentations by whistleblowers and journalists, and a whistleblower-themed film festival.
"Whistleblowing is a difficult undertaking, and the public should know that," stated GAP President Louis Clark, who will emcee the upcoming event. "But it is essential for accountability, and democracy, at all levels. Whistleblowers routinely risk their own professional lives to save the actual lives of others. At GAP, we believe that whistleblowers are necessary, need protections, and should be honored for their courage. That's what the American Whistleblower Tour is all about."
Goals of the Tour include raising awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in our democracy, preparing America's youth for ethical decision-making, countering negative connotations associated with whistleblowing, connecting prospective whistleblowers to available resources, and encouraging academic studies of whistleblowing.
In February 2010, GAP teamed up with film production company Participant Media and the Manhattan venue Paley Center for the Media to produce the definitive television presentation on whistleblowing - Anyone Can Whistle: The Essential Role of the Whistleblower in American Society. The event, watched online live by thousands, was the first-ever special explaining and celebrating the role of whistleblowers in our culture. Hosted by Juan Williams (then of NPR), and featuring whistleblower heroes such as Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Serpico, Coleen Rowley and others, the program examined the six stages of the typical whistleblowing experience, celebrated the courage of whistleblowers, and decried the lack of adequate legal protections.
More importantly, the presentation educated the public on the practice of whistleblowing. Through the American Whistleblower Tour, we hope to expand upon the goals and the energy that emerged from this past event.
For more information about the Tour in general, contact GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at email@example.com, or 202.457.0034, ext. 137.