Good Advice from a Tireless Whistleblower Supporter, G. Florence Scott (GFS), Urging Former or Prospective Whistleblowers and Their Supporters to Write to the Obama Administration with Their Views on What Needs to be Done to Empower Whistle Blowers
I've decided to pass on some very good advice from a great whistleblower supporter, G. Florence Scott (GFS).
GFS is urging that any former or prospective whistleblowers and their supporters write to the incoming Obama Administration ASAP with their views on what needs to be done to ensure that whistleblowers (who are often now harassed, fired, transferred, and/or otherwise retaliated against for raising valid issues), are protected from such retaliation, and the issues they report are adequately investigated.
Often the act of reporting the misconduct of companies or government agencies brings about swift and relentless retaliation against a whistleblower. Additionally, these organizations often succeed in covering up the misconduct reported, and many are so arrogant that they also ensure that the misconduct itself can continue in the process. Ultimately, many such corrupt organizations never have to face justice for these actions, or justice for the misconduct itself.
Please follow the advice of G. Florence Scott below (after my introduction), and go to www.change.gov and post your letter advocating reforms that will offer whistleblowers greater protection from retaliation, as well as calling for real changes to ensure that those whistleblowers’ messages are indeed heard and acted upon by the relevant investigative/enforcement authority.
If you want to skip my "whistleblower biased" introduction and go straight to GFS's urgent message, just start reading past the asterisks below.
Due to the American public sweeping in change on a vast scale last November, it seems clear the public is as tired of government and industry corruption as me. And many have been learning as I did that the corruption often proves to be between government officials and officials of companies in industry. It is no wonder in this environment that it has been so difficult for whistleblowers.
A new largely Democratic Congress will be sworn in two days from now, on January 6th, followed two weeks later by the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. I know that the Obama Transition Team has made an unprecedented attempt to seek advice from as many people as possible during the transition, in order to make informed decisions on the best policy choices for the American people that reflect their values and views. And that is why GFS has called for you to write to President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden in support of whistleblowers.
While corruption and incompetence (purposeful or not) in the outgoing Bush administration was obviously a main reason behind the electoral landslide that swept Barack Obama and other Democrats to victory, it is clear that this is not a one party problem. A corrupt governor in Illinois is doing his best to show that even usually (relatively) corruption adverse Democrats have their problem members as well. Having said that, even considering the Blagojevich aberration, a fundamental difference can be seen in how each party handles such politicians in their party. One party is disgusted by them and wants them gone from their party and from office ASAP. The other is, unfortunately, more tolerant of such "pay to play" politics as well as other forms of official misconduct. While no party is blameless when it comes to corruption, the public has spoken. And at least in the case of Federal offices, the public has shown they prefer politicians who want to work much more for the average citizen, rather than those that serve almost exclusively the companies that employ them.
Most sensible people, including Republicans, can now see that the "trickle down" theory didn't really work, or at least it didn't mean exactly what it was purported to mean, and presidential candidate Obama rightly called it by labeling the current financial crisis in America "the final verdict of history" on the failed experiment of "trickle-down" economics.
The wealth didn't trickle down as promised. The greedy that unfortunately comprise a large portion of the wealthy elite of this country wanted more, more, and ever more, even after the overly generous tax cuts the Bush Administration gifted them. They put their windfall profits from tax cuts and other Bush Administration largess into tax shelters overseas. They outsourced formerly US jobs overseas to "maximize profitability" (as Boeing called it); they busted or prevented the formation of unions to decrease wages or outsourced formerly union jobs to the lowest non-union bidder, among many other tactics, to ensure as little wealth as possible trickled down into average US taxpayer's hands.
I do not mean to vilify all people with wealth. There are many good people among the wealthy—especially those who in their view have accumulated more than enough wealth and want to give some large portion of it back to the least fortunate among us, and those that have accumulated wealth but are not economically ignorant like many of their greedy neighbors in their communities of the ultra rich. These economically astute people among the wealthy realize that the U.S. economy does need workers with enough disposable income to be enthusiastic consumers of their products in order for their businesses to remain successful and thrive. They know that they cannot enhance their profitability long term and ensure their continued wealth by killing well-paying U.S. jobs.
So, while the economic crisis did not help Republicans who wanted to control the Presidency longer, it was not the main reason for their rejection. Corruption played a key role as well. People realized they could no longer trust the current administration to tell the truth. An almost daily stream of revelations of past or new corruption has bombarded us. DOJ U.S. Attorneys and career DOJ and other agency officials appointed or chosen for party and ideological bent, and an anti-U.S. law enforcement bias have created an atmosphere where violation of laws and ethics have been the rule rather than the exception. Lies abound about the justifications for a costly war in terms of lives and dollars. Industry has been allowed to rewrite the regulations for their own industry's oversight and/or they wield disproportionate influence over those in government who have the power to change or remove regulations that affect their industry. New regulation has become politically impossible to achieve. Real controls and regulations have become a mere shadow of what they should be; those that remain on the books are not being enforced. Whole agencies appear to be awash in corruption, even critical agencies, like the DOJ and DOT/FAA, are as corrupt as the worst companies they are supposed to oversee, as well as investigate and prosecute, if necessary.
The public obviously made an informed choice this time. They didn't allow fear of terrorism to overcome their ability to reason. They wanted more accountability, and much less corrupt government and politicians. I believe they have made the correct choice. However, as we have seen, power (independent or uncaring of the will of the people) ultimately will corrupt, and corrupt absolutely.
That is where we come in. While some very bad actors were removed from office this last round of elections by will of the people, we must ensure that both the new and the seasoned politicians govern with our advice and consent, with our best interests in mind—not just catering to the interests of those who are wealthy enough to hire lobbyists.
We must lobby our government ourselves on what we want our government to do for us and what values we want our government to govern with. And that is why GFS's call to write change.gov about the critical whistleblower reforms needed is such a great idea. We need to tell them early and often what we, the people, desire and demand from our leaders.
I believe the whistleblower issue is one of the most important, whichever side of the political aisle you're on, and irrespective of my personal experiences as a whistleblower. There are hundreds or thousands of whistleblowers like me, many of whom could not be tarred and discredited by the corrupt company or agencies they reported, as I was. And there are thousands of prospective whistleblowers in the wings because of the actions of ne'er-do well corrupt management of agencies or companies like Boeing's, who have kept silent until now because corrupt management of agencies and corporations have been so successful in engaging in retaliation against both high and low profile whistleblowers over the past several years of de facto government of, by, and for corporations. (See my website and blog for specifics on these egregious behaviors.) Your letter supporting reforms to protect both government and industry whistleblowers from retaliation and put real penalties in place for retaliation committed against whistleblowers is one of the best areas in which you can advise the incoming Obama administration. (See one example letter below.)
Everyone, even "common-sensical" Republicans, should write that believes in a government accountable to everyone.
Whistleblowers are in essence the conscience of a company or government. When a company or government does not listen to whistleblowers, and all too commonly, even retaliates against whistleblowers, then that company or government is operating without a conscience. In essence, a company or government that does not listen to whistleblowers is the very definition of a corrupt organization—a company or government that has decided it won't have a conscience and that it doesn't have to obey the rules. And in extreme cases, such corrupt organizations attempt to "kill" the whistleblower (their "conscience") via retaliation against them. These hostile actions toward the unwanted conscience (whistleblowers) intentionally send a message to every other prospective whistleblower that organization has.
Such retaliation is the "cancer" that destroys totally any meaningful existence of the organization's "conscience," often, ultimately, with disastrous consequences for that organization. Think about it. Had the multiple whistleblowers in the Bush administration been listened to and had their reports been adequately investigated and acted upon per laws and regulations, the administration would have not embarked on many of the actions that cost their party control of the White House and resulted in increased Democratic majorities in Congress.
Republican control of the White House and Congress has shown us the dangers of one party control that seemingly only cares about public input come election time. That is another reason that we, the people, are taking a much more active role in our government this time around while the Republican party regroups, hopefully becoming a party more representative of the average American's interests and less beholden to special interests running the government instead. (Even though my current party affiliation is perhaps too well demonstrated here, even I will change parties if power ultimately corrupts my current party more than the alternative party.)
Please write to the Obama administration as GFS did to ensure whistleblower support is a key issue in their policymaking. The future of a government of, by, and for the people by politicians on both sides of the aisle is at stake. We have seen what happens to our economic interests when special interests rule the day, and government does not hear our voices. They are often, unfortunately, interests that are not in the best interests of the people of the "Main Street" we've heard mentioned so often lately. Calling for the protection of whistleblowers from retaliation is one of the best things we can do to ensure our government and industry do what's best for all as incorporated in our laws and regulations, as opposed to doing what is best for just the pocketbooks of the managers of those organizations that have "cut out" any vestige of a conscience via whistleblower retaliation.
Please follow GFS's wonderful example of what a good citizen can do to effect positive change for whistleblowers and the organizations they are trying to save via their whistleblowing, as noted below. Real protections for whistleblowers will force organizations to face problems and do the right thing rather than sweeping them under the rug and "killing" the messenger.
You may send letters of information and concern to the Obama-Biden offices of President and Vice President Elects: www.change.gov
You also may view reader questions and take part in a ranking of importance of questions on this site, as well as submit questions of your own for the incoming administration.
Below is an example letter, this one about protecting federal employees/whistleblowers.
Be empowered. Stand up and take action! -GFS
January 4, 2009
Dear President-Elect Obama and Vice-President-Elect Biden:
I recently received an article titled "Obama Faces Legacy of Lawlessness at Justice" by Daphne Eviatar, The Washington Independent. This article is a must read for anyone who has noted the increasingly evident lack of vigor in the Justice Department and the malfeasance demonstrated in meeting the missions of the various agencies and departments. The anonymous federal government investigator who sent it to me gave me permission to pass his comments along to interested readers. He stated:
Excellent article about Lawlessness at Justice. Many politicians have talked, and talked and talked for the past eight years about the injustices of the Bush administration. And, dare I say almost all, have backed away from any meaningful confrontation with the Bush Administration.
We all know the story and the legacy of the corruption rampant throughout Bush's administration. Some of us have experienced it firsthand! For those of us that have, our lives and careers have been trampled upon. For those of us approaching retirement age, there will be no recouping from that damage – the damage is done, and we will continue to suffer into retirement through lost jobs, lost promotions, lost opportunities, lost wages and lost retirements. For those of us that have served under and been punished under the Bush administration – enough talk by politicians! We need to see some justice and some action by those politicians supposedly serving the people of this great nation.
How does this new administration propose to extricate the damage and toll to those public servants and people's lives and careers that have been destroyed by the Bush administration?"
There are many federal employees who feel the same (as this anonymous federal government investigator does).
I hear from some of them due to my blogs for and about whistleblowers (or those who are labeled whistleblowers for trying to ethically do the jobs they were hired to do). You have never heard of most of these people. And the majority you probably never will hear about.
Few whistleblower situations actually are made public in the media. And unless you know one very well, personally, few federal employees or whistleblowers will volunteer the details of their personal nightmare, for fear of more retribution or loss of job, career and retirement. For that reason, the majority of whistleblowers or would-be whistleblowers, though they lurk about websites that post information of interest and use to them, do not ever leave comments, even anonymously. And due to the many challenges to any kind of privacy online and over land and wireless communications systems as a part of increased "spying" on the American Public that the past eight years has brought about, I do not blame them. The extreme corruption, excesses and greed exhibited by members and associates of the Bush Administration are leaving our government at an all time low. It will not be a clear field for the new administration. Even now, just days before the change of administrations, the outgoing one seeks to hobble the incoming one.
So this will be a major challenge for the new Obama-Biden administration. There are a large number of predominantly silent people out there watching and waiting to see what will be done to establish a system which respects those who try to stand up to wrong doing, those who feel integrity is an important part of the oath they took when beginning the adventure that was to be their career federal job, those who hold their responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution and laws above all else. Who will stand up for these courageous federal employees who serve as prosecuting attorneys, investigators, security specialists, contracting officers, and all manner of oversight of government business as well as of contracting of companies to the federal government? How and when will full protections and rights be firmly put into place which will allow them safety and dignity as they do their jobs without fear of retribution and destruction of their careers and lives?
Another career Federal Employee commented last night:
"If the new administration expects would-be whistleblowers to disclose violations of law and danger to public safety and national security, it should give immediate relief to the current whistleblowers who are enduring constant subtle retaliation while at their current job, resigned under duress, or were fired."
I ask that the Obama–Biden Team take definitive action on this problem and come forth with clear policy and a plan to assure protection and assistance for those loyal federal employees who have been trying to do their jobs and have been pounded into the ground for doing so.
G. Florence Scott
A comment on this blog entry by GFS:
Thank you Gerald! Powerful statements! I knew there was no better person to speak to employees of industry, including defense contractors and other large companies doing business with the government.
A lot of lip service has been paid, by members of both major parties in recent years, to passing effective legislation that would protect whistleblowers. Although some minor changes have been made, most of the time the legislation proposed by stand-up leaders who value the integrity of our whistleblower's actions, have been thwarted at every turn. And the legislation has either been put on hold, disemboweled, or watered down to the point it hasn't been able to do the job. Also some employers have been able to manipulate elements of the current laws and defuse their intended purpose as well, leaving whistleblowers dangling in the wind.
I again want to encourage everyone who is a whistleblower, could be a whistleblower in the future, or cares about whistleblowers and issues of ethics and fairness, to write to President-Elect Obama and Vice-President Elect Biden. Again, their site is located at www.change.gov. You can send them your story, the link is at the top. Or you can write to them using the link for "contact" at the very bottom of the page. Scroll down and look at the short column on the right.
The more concerned citizens they hear from with compelling messages, the more seriously they will have to take this important message. While you are at it, send another copy to your Senators and Congresspersons. This is the best opportunity for change we've had in a long time! -GFS
Thanks, GFS. You are correct on how difficult it has been to get meaningful legislation passed to protect whistleblowers. I hope as many people as possible will answer your call to action. That, as well as the new blood in Washington, D.C., may finally turn the tide in our favor, and consequently the nation's. Whistleblowers should not have to traverse the current mine fields they have to in order to protect the public. With protection of whistleblowers, corrupt government or industry officials will find continuing their corruption an increasingly dangerous thing to do. Fittingly, they will face the danger of termination and/or prison, rather than the whistleblowers who reported their corruption.
Thanks again for bringing this great opportunity to guide our government's reform efforts to everyone's attention.
The Last Inspector
The Last Inspector