Big business sometimes has big skeletons in their closet. They are not fond of those who shake off the dust and reveal problems that can cost big bucks. Government can also be considered big business when it comes to whistle blowers.
The liberal government of Canada introduced Bill C-25 in March 2004. It has been called the whistle blower legislation. The bill came out of the sponsorship scandal that parts of the government are still attempting to recover from. The auditor general at that time blew the lid on $100 million in bogus payments to several Quebec advertising firms that didn’t work to earn the money.
The United States is no exception to whistle blowers. The Bush government has used the term of terrorist when it comes to those who try to alert the public on wrongdoings.
Teresa Chambers is just one of those who has been labeled a terrorist. Hired in 2002 to the position of chief of the United States Park Police she was fired when she raised concerns about crime in the nation’s parks. She tried to regain her job by using the legal system meant to protect those who alert the public. The government lawyers fought back against this whistle blower and associated her with terrorists. At this time Chambers is still fighting to get her job back.
It’s not just the Bush government. Clinton’s administration also fought against those who tried to warn against problems in the government structure. Bogdan Dzakovic was an undercover security agent with the FAA. He spoke out on how the airport security was weak in the nation. That was three years prior to 9/11. Dzakovic didn’t lose his job but has been passed over time and again for promotions. Instead of using his talent to spot flaws that would help national security he has been hidden away consigned to data entry duties for the Transportation Security Administration.
They aren’t the only ones who have tried to alert others on security problems, fraud or corruption that happens in the
government. Every year hundreds of federal workers try to blow their whistle only to be stopped. There are laws that have been written to protect those who step up to the plate and try to make a real change but those laws rarely do what they were meant to.
Salon spent six months investigating federal whistle blowing only to find out that those who make a stand generally are silenced quickly. By doing the right thing federal employees face agency managers and White House goons whose job is to silence the lambs. 97 percent of the time whistle blowers lose their cases when it comes to federal wrongdoing. In the end those who should be considered heroes in the government end up looking at their careers going up in smoke.
Legal experts and lawmakers know that the system is in shambles. Reform is needed to protect those who speak out. Congress in fact has been working on strengthening the system but there’s a huge problem looming ahead. Reform solutions are aiming to be voted on in the Senate and if all indications stay the path it will pass, but….Bush will veto. Why? According to the Bush White House among other things its criticisms a risk to national security.
“Whistle-blowers are treated like a skunk at a picnic, and there’s no excuse for it,” Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican, said after being provided with details of the CIR/Salon investigation. Grassley has long sought stronger whistle-blower protections and is backing the new legislation toward reform. “It’s whistle-blowers who can help us truly understand problems at government agencies. They stick their necks out to speak the truth. They don’t take the easy way out.”
“It’s imperative that there are whistle-blower protections for civil servants when they see something that is wrong,” said Lynn Jennings, an attorney who served during the Clinton administration as general counsel for the special whistle-blower court, known as the Merit Systems Protection Board. “They need to know that if they speak out they are going to be protected. Ultimately, it is to save lives, to save money, to save the integrity of the federal government.”
A Little History Lesson
In the United States modern whistle blowing can be traced to the US Senate in April 1951. A junior senator from California proposed a new law that would protect employees from having to be yes men for administration policies. That senator was Richard Nixon and his law became stalled. It may have remained in the shadows forever had it not been for a little break-in down at a hotel named Watergate. How the past can come back to kick you in the bum.
The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 was passed on the heels of the Watergate scandal. The new law created the Merit Systems Protection Board. The government knew that those who spoke out faced retaliation and this system would protect them.
Except it has never worked. Those who brave the waters speaking out lose their cases time and again.
Some Of The Victims
Joseph D. Whitson Jr. works from a basement and had his job duties stripped because he spoke out about superiors falsifying drug results. Those false reports were from the Air Force. Nothing like drugged out pilots flying to protect a country.
Vernie Gee, Sr. got written up for fighting after being beaten up. He had alerted others about tainted meat in the US food supply and bribes from slaughterhouses going to inspectors.
George Randall Taylor ended up being forced into a psychiatric hospital after he exposed rapes going on at a Navy base in Bermuda.
Remember Teresa Chambers? She had to put up with used condoms being put on her car and her office door was pepper sprayed.
Why would these tactics be happening? Simple. The powers that be want those who use their voice to give up. Quit. Look for other employment.
“One of the great tricks in whistle-blowing is to get rid of someone for a reason that doesn’t seem like it was for whistle-blowing,” said Fred Alford, a professor of government at the University of Maryland. “You do all the things you can to get someone to quit, to get them enraged, to get them to act out. Then you can fire them.”
The role of the whistle blower in the United States federal government should be looked upon with proud instead of finding ways to keep problems in the dark. The government has used courtrooms and terror type tactics to silence those who speak out. Bush is helping to keep those who could be helping the public safety quiet by letting it be known that he will veto new legislation that would protect whistleblowers.
But the Bush administration has vigorously opposed stronger whistle-blower protections. In a confidential e-mail from 2006, obtained by CIR and Salon, the White House registered strong objections to a congressional committee that was reviewing a similar law to protect whistle-blowers drawn up last year, saying the “excessively over broad definition of whistle blowing … forbids using any common sense.” And President Bush has said he will veto the new legislation moving through Congress, saying in a two-page Statement of Administration Policy that the new law would “increase the number of frivolous complaints and waste resources” and could “compromise national security.”
The message that is being sent out is that it is pointless to try to fix any problems. They are best left to be swept under the carpet so no one is the wiser.