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Media Advisory: Panel on National Whistleblower Appreciation Day to Explore Emerging Forms of Retaliation

July 27, 2015
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Prominent Whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Robert MacLean to Speak

(WASHINGTON) – On July 30, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) will host a panel discussion, “Whistleblower Rights Campaigns in the 114th Congress” as part of the Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights. The panel, which will take place on Capitol Hill and feature prominent whistleblowers and high-profile advocates, will focus on – 1) the need for jury trials to enforce Whistleblower Protection Act rights for federal employees, the only segment of the labor force without them; 2) the rise in retaliation through criminal investigations and prosecutions, since that has become the reprisal of choice after passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act; and 3) the challenge for national security whistleblowers such as intelligence community contractors, since cancelation of preexisting rights for working within the system has sparked classified leaks. It will also examine the role of the recently launched Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. Full information on the panel can be found below.

The panel will take place on National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, which was established by a U.S. Senate resolution in order to acknowledge and commemorate the contributions of whistleblowers in combating waste, fraud, abuse, and violations of laws, and to inform workers and the public about the legal rights of U.S. citizens to blow the whistle. The Whistleblower Summit is hosted by ACORN8 and will run from July 29 through July 31. GAP staff and whistleblowers will participate throughout the events, and additional details can be found here.
 

Panel Information
Whistleblower Rights Campaigns in the 114th Congress

July 30th, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
902 Hart Senate Office Building

 This panel will explore legislative campaigns and existing bills to fill the gaps in whistleblower protections. Key campaigns include:

-       Banning the criminal retaliation of whistleblowers
-       Restoring whistleblower protections for Intelligence Community contractors
-       Closing unresolved issues in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
-       Restoring due process rights for “Noncritical Sensitive Employees”
-       Upgrading the No FEAR Act through strategic amendments
-       Improving whistleblower rights for service members
-       Strengthening protections for VA whistleblowers

Panelists Include:

Tom Devine, Legal Director, Government Accountability Project (Moderator)

Larry Criscione, Reliability and Risk Engineer, Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Tom Drake, Whistleblower, Former National Security Agency Senior Executive

Tanya Ward Jordan, Founder, Coalition For Change, Inc. 

DeLisa Lay, Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee

Mandy Smithberger, Program Director, Project On Government Oversight

With Special Remarks by Robert MacLean, Federal Air Marshal Whistleblower

 

Whistleblower Descriptions

Thomas Drake is a former senior executive at the National Security Agency where he blew the whistle on multi-billion dollar fraud, intelligence failures, and widespread violations of the rights of citizens through secret mass surveillance programs after 9/11. As retaliation and reprisal, the Obama Administration indicted Mr. Drake in 2010 for espionage against the US. However, he faced down 35 years in prison and kept his freedoms. A recipient of several awards for whistleblowing, Mr. Drake now writes, speaks and teaches on whistleblowing, civil liberties, privacy, threats to democracy and society, secrecy, surveillance and abusive government power.  

Robert MacLean is a TSA employee who in 2006 spoke up about the consequences of a dangerous government decision to remove air marshals from long distance flights during a confirmed terrorist alert.  Because he blew the whistle, the government changed policy and a potential tragedy was averted.  But Mr. MacLean paid a hefty price, when he was fired three years later for disclosing “sensitive security information”. He appealed his termination, and in January 2015 the Supreme Court ruled in Mr. MacLean’s favor in a 7-2 decision. Since the ruling, Mr. MacLean has been reinstated by the TSA.

Larry Criscione is a licensed professional engineer and works in the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In 2012 he wrote a letter to then NRC Chairman Allison MacFarlane warning her of the potential for a "Fukushima-style" accident in South Carolina if the dam upstream of the Oconee Nuclear Station were to fail.  He copied his letter to the Office of Special Counsel and to members of the NRC's congressional oversight committees. The NRC Inspector General staff then attempted to prosecute him for sharing his unclassified concerns with government officials outside of the NRC. The IG's rationale was that Congress did not have a need-to-know about the dire consequences revealed of by Mr. Criscione’s disclosures.

To schedule an interview with Tom Devine, Thomas Drake, Robert MacLean or Larry Criscione, please contact GAP Communications Director Andrew Harman.

 

Contact: Andrew Harman, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 156
Email: Andrewh@whistleblower.org

Government Accountability Project
 

The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

 

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