Archive for August, 2010


Here is another letter that someone sent me recently after they sent a letter to their elected officials.  -GFS

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Dear Senator:  sent to Murray, Cantwell, Obama (Pres.), and Biden (VP)

JUSTICE:  The maintenance or administration of that which  is just…the administration of law according to the rules of law or equity…. the principle of rectitude and just dealing of men with each other….also conformity to it …. integrity(fairness).  So you won’t have to look it up, the foregoing is from the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

It would be well for all of Congress to read the Declaration of Independence and discuss its meanings and see how it applies to the present day situation.

It would seem to me that when two Senators ( Reid and McConnell) can keep a bill from being voted on, you are not doing “the will of the people”.  In fact, the rest of you are sitting on your hands and doing a poor job of representing us.  I’m ashamed to say that our elected Congress does not want equal justice for all.  Shame on you!

We need equal rights and protections for government employees and contractors that blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse, and illegal and unsafe practices.  And put another way, protecting whistleblowers is a high impact, low cost, common sense way to make our government open and accountable and to keep us safe.

Supposedly we have laws and regulations that we expect our government workers to read and apply without prejudice.  We ask these same federal workers everyday to be honest and loyal to our government and our people.  Does it seem right to you that when they do what we have hired them to do that a growing number of them face daily harassment, retribution and injury for standing up to their corrupt managers and others.  Their lawbreaking foes must be held accountable for their actions, and the whistleblowers must be supported and their careers and lives made whole again.

I do not need the corrupt working for me!  I ask you to support a strong whistle blower law that will create justice, not only for the whistleblowers but for the people of the United States.  It’s about time as the old saying goes “put your money where your mouth is” and vote for the whistleblower protection law.

Sincerely,

From Government Exec.com

 

Security agency whistleblowers seek stronger protections

By Chris Strohm cstrohm@govexec.com February 14, 2006

Whistleblowers who have alleged misconduct or criminal activity at national security agencies told lawmakers Tuesday that they have been retaliated against for their disclosures, and urged stronger rights for both federal employees and contractors reporting wrongdoing.

In an unusual move, whistleblowers from the FBI, National Security Agency, Defense Department and Energy Department were allowed to testify before the House Government Reform National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations Subcommittee. Congressional committees usually hear from senior agency managers, not rank-and-file employees.

The whistleblowers recounted their allegations and how they were retaliated against, in some cases by having their security clearances revoked or their careers ruined. They said agency managers seemed more focused on cover-ups and retaliation than investigating allegations or addressing exposed problems.

“I became a whistleblower not out of choice, but out of necessity — necessity to tell the truth,” said Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who said he was retaliated against after reporting pre-9/11 intelligence failures.

Shaffer is scheduled to testify in a closed session Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee. Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said the session will be “a hearing that is going to change . . . the nature of this city.”

Weldon said Congress needs to pass legislation to protect workers who come forward with critical information.

“If we don’t fix the problem . . . then we’re sending a signal to every other employee in the federal government not to speak up,” Weldon said. “If we don’t take action, we’re all in danger.”

Other whistleblowers said their allegations were never fully investigated.

“I’m here today to tell you about a system that is broken,” said Mike German, who resigned from the FBI after reporting that bureau agents and managers mishandled a major counterterrorism case in 2002 and falsified records. The Justice Department inspector general confirmed German’s allegations that the case was mishandled and records were falsified, and that he was retaliated against after making his allegations. But the IG said the case was not a counterterrorism case.

“I am here not because I think you can help me,” German said. “I am here because your actions are needed to fix a broken system before another counterterrorism investigation is about to fail.”

He added: “This is not a question of balancing security interests against liberty interests. It’s a mater of competence and accountability.”

Army Spc. Samuel Provance said he believes the military has covered up the extent of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and has not adequately investigated those abuses. Provance was one of the first military soldiers to come forward with allegations of abuse at the prison.

“I am concerned about what the Army is becoming,” he said. “Honor cannot be achieved by lies and scapegoating. Honor depends on the truth.”

Several lawmakers said they would support new legislation to give stronger protections to employees and contractors at national security and intelligence agencies. Those employees are exempt from protections under the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act.

“Seldom in our history has the need for the whistleblower’s unfiltered voice been more urgent, particularly in the realms of national security and intelligence,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. “But those with whom we trust the nation’s secrets are too often treated like second-class citizens when it comes to asserting their rights to speak truth to power.”

By a party-line vote, the House Government Reform Committee rejected a measure last fall that would have provided stronger protections for national security whistleblowers. At the time, committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said he did not know enough about national security issues.

Some whistleblower advocates were outraged over Davis’ statement, especially since his committee includes a subcommittee on national security.

“My hope is that … we can work together on a bipartisan basis to introduce new legislation that will provide national security whistleblowers with basic protections,” Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said during Tuesday’s hearing. “No one with a security clearance should have to fear that his or her clearance can be pulled in retaliation for truthfully reporting corruption or abuse.”

Link to original:  http://www.govexec.com/story_page_pf.cfm?articleid=33398&printerfriendlyvers=1

As fast as I was able to post the original link and send it via email to some of my readers, I received this back.  Good on you, reader in Washington!  -GFS

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Dear Senator:

I strongly support more rights and protections for government employees and contractors who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse, and illegal and unsafe practices.

Today, federal employees and government contractor employees must put their jobs, careers, and family security on the line for exposing wrongdoing in government. That’s the world upside down: Federal law should honor these everyday heroes. Simply put: Protecting whistleblowers is a high impact, low cost, common sense way to make our government open and accountable.

I understand that the reform bill necessary to address this situation, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, is bottled up in the Senate. This is unacceptable. Please ask Senator Reid and Senator McConnell to take whatever action is necessary to break this legislative logjam.

Federal employees and government contractor employees are often our best defense against fraud, waste, abuse and threats to public safety and the environment. They urgently need your help.  A growing number of them face daily harassment, retribution and injury for standing up to their corrupt managers and others.  Their lawbreaking foes must be held accountable for their actions, and the whistleblowers must be supported and their careers and lives made whole again.

I have written to both of you before about a specific federal employee’s situation.  Only one of you was willing to help.  Thank you Senator Cantwell. 

Senator Murray, I am very disappointed in you, as you seem to be willing to turn your back on those in your state who have found themselves at odds with wrongdoers in large defense contractors (one in particular) and those high in the Pentagon and DoD who have been trying to cover all of this up, and trying to destroy any federal employee who attempts to see to it that U.S. Law and Policies are followed.  It is called Justice.  And these federal employees are being denied justice, as are the American Taxpayers who are paying for all of the fraud, waste, and abuse being heaped upon them by the wrongdoers.  I ask you again to stand up and face your campaign contributors and do the right thing.   

Sincerely,

 

Dear Whistleblowers, Current Federal Employees, Former Federal Employees, Retired Federal Employees and those who support them:

Tell your Senators to firmly support getting Whistleblower Protection legislation out of the bottleneck and blockage in the Senate. 

Follow this link, (Sponsored by Government Accountability Project (GAP) to read the article and then  easily and quickly send your message.  There is a draft of a basic message there which you may send as is, or you may customize it as you please before sending.  Please do this today.    

 *This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6319/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1856

http://www.ft.com

US to pay big sums for Wall St tip-offs

By Jean Eaglesham and Brooke Masters in New York

Published: August 8 2010 22:30 | Last updated: August 8 2010 22:30

New US whistleblowing incentives within the Dodd-Frank financial reform act – that could net informants multimillion dollar pay-outs – are likely to generate a surge in allegations against US-listed companies and Wall Street banks, lawyers say.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is expecting a sharp increase in tip-offs from senior employees and third parties prompted by potential seven-figure bounties.

“The scale of the awards reflects the high quality of whistleblower we hope to get – people within a company, broker or other regulated firm that we might not have heard from before,” Stephen Cohen, an SEC official, told the Financial Times. “We’re expecting a tremendous response.”

The substantive new financial incentives for securities fraud whistleblowers are part of the sweeping Wall Street reforms that became law last month.

People who provide original information that leads to a successful SEC enforcement action will now be entitled to 10 per cent to 30 per cent of any sanction collected over $1m – including a share of the proceeds from any related regulatory action.

“We’ve seen recent settlements of SEC actions of up to $800m . . . this is a tremendous incentive for people to blow the whistle and for entrepreneurial law firms to represent them,” said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University.

Similar whistleblowing payments for actions for fraud against the government, under the false claims act, have spawned a multibillion dollar industry of law firms specialising in healthcare claims.

“We’re predicting that there are going to be more cases, based on the experience under the false claims act,” said Tim Coleman, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the law firm.

However, financial industry bodies and lawyers representing companies warned that the scale of the potential pay-outs could generate rogue tip-offs by disaffected employees, wasting resources for both the employer and regulator.

“Our only concern is if this were to encourage malicious whistleblowing – people making stuff up to cause trouble,” said the Association for Financial Markets in Europe.

“The company will end up being cleared, but investigations still take up a great deal of time and resources. This [provision] will need careful monitoring.”

The SEC insisted it could cope with the expected influx of new allegations.

“We already have systems in place, which we’re improving, for dealing with thousands of tips every year,” Mr Cohen said. “If this canhelp us to bring cases more efficiently and quickly, it will make us a more effective regulator.”

Someone sent this comment in to me today.  I post it here for consideration.  Interesting.  I think I would expand that to a caution to both the Democrats and the Republicans, regarding the attitude of jobs for life, and in some cases, ongoing family legacies of serving in public office.   GFS

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GFS,

Take a look at this.  I am reading the book, The Scientists, by John Gribbin.  Here is a quote from that book worth reading.  History does appear to repeat itself!   

“1768

The French taxation system at the time managed to be unfair, incompetent and corrupt.  Many of the problems arose from the stability of the French political system over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Louis XIV reigned for 72 years (assisted by the Church)….covering the period when England TWICE disposed of monarchs that they took exception to….  Neither of them took much notice of the will of the people.  The result was the practices (such as exempting nobles from taxes)….  This was a major factor in the discontent that led to the French Revolution….  When Louis XVI succeeded to the throne in 1774, he attempted to reform some of the corrupt administrative practices he had inherited.  These included the way gunpowder was supplied (or as often as not, not supplied) to the army and navy.  Like the tax system, this was corrupt and inefficient.”

 

Does this have a ring of familiarity today?  Maybe the Democratic Party needs to stop thinking of the political system as a “job for life” and start thinking about the good of the country and the survival of the lower and middle class in this country.  I would really hate to lose our two party system, but we need to step up to the plate and make the hard decisions that will take corporations out of politics and put it back into the hands of “we the people.”

We need courts that are not influenced by their political beliefs but base their decisions on the intent of the founders of the country.

We need to keep politics and religion totally separate and maybe it is about time religious organizations begin to pay their way to live in a democracy.  If they are going to enter into the political arena then they are not keeping church and state separate and what is “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

Retired Fed

This video is thought provoking.  I’ve been considering what appears to be the breadth and depth of corruption within our government, Pentagon and contractors, including large defense contractors. 

Practically, after sorting through this article, it appears to this writer that the same kinds of activities are ongoing.  One difference is that some large defense contractors have become even more politically and economically powerful and have even more influence.

 The public has been an expendable nuisance in all of this, except for their usefulness in paying the cost of the “police actions” or covert military actions, and the fraud that has been so rampant in contracting.  I can believe that how this is accomplished is through coordination of certain people who hold political positions, presidentially appointed heads of agencies, some corrupted career civil service or SES employees, certain position holders in the Pentagon, ( military or civilian positions), and of course those who directly make the most profit, the executives, board, (and stockholders) of certain defense contractors. 

Take away the wild eyed conspiracy aspects, and in reality, there is still an organized effort on the part of interrelated parties to make money, lots of money, at this nation’s and the taxpayer’s expense.   The average American citizen is not bettering themselves and profiting from all of this, and many might choose not to participate for moral or philosophical reasons, particularly once they realized they were being played, but those certain parties in those cabals who orchestrate these actions certainly do profit on a large scale.  And at great negative consequence to our economy and real national security.    Think about it. 

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GFS

The 1980s was a gold rush era for government-embedded

Criminals.

Here’s what that “golden age” looked like and who was involved.

Hint: George Bush Sr. was one of the ring leaders and many of

of the people who worked with him worked with George Jr

from 2000 to 2008.

Video:

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/912.html

– Brasscheck

P.S. Please share Brasscheck TV e-mails and

videos with friends and colleagues.

That’s how we grow. Thanks.

================================

Brasscheck TV

2380 California St.

San Francisco, CA 94115

August 6, 2010

The AP reported yesterday that the Senate confirmed Obama’s nominee, retired Air Force Lt. General James R. Clapper as the next Director of National Intelligence.  This was a bad nomination in the opinion of this blogger and the Senate showed extreme lack of judgment in approving this nomination. 

To his credit, Senator Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma had put a hold on the nomination approval, but unfortunately had later lifted the hold, enabling the approval to go through.  Shame on you, Senators.  Do any of you have the best interests of this nation foremost in your priorities?  It does not appear so to many of us watching defense matters closely, and concerned about the amount of corruption having its way with DoD employees and creating DoD whistleblowers.

You can find earlier articles regarding Clapper on this blog.  There are good reasons to doubt the wisdom and sense of this nomination and Senate approval for the Director of National Intelligence position.  Put this situation on your radar screen.  I would suggest we may find Kathleen Watson, Defense Security Service Director,  may turn up in a new position soon.

GFS

 

This article by Shanna Devine is excellently written and right spot on.  This is exactly what federal employees, in fact a growing number of federal employees have been experiencing.  Few ever seem to get real justice and are made whole again. 

One huge problem is security classification creep.  I am referring to when certain people purposefully misclassify something in order to hide it, as they know it will get them into trouble or mess up their business practices if it is discovered.  They try to keep these things secret by putting them behind the curtain.  During the past decade, it seems many with authority to affect this kind of behind the scenes change in policy were using the claim of “National Security” to hide many things, including illegal activities committed by themselves, their cronies in the government, or their cronies in industry, including defense contractors.  (Sometimes the wrongdoing was done in collusion between all of them.)  This has corrupted the whole meaning and implementation of  “classified.”  While there are things that truly are classified for good reason and are necessary to keep out of public view for real and legitimate national security concerns, there are many things which have been abominations which need to be identified and formally outted, taking the greedy and unethical wrongdoers who used such improper classifying of these things to hide theft, fraud, bribery, etc. into custody and begin prosecution.  GFS

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The Birmingham News – Congress Should Protect National Security Whistleblowers

 

The following op-ed was written by GAP Legislative Officer Shanna Devine and was published in Alice Echo News (TX), Daily Sun News (WA), and Madison Capital Times.

What makes America safe? This fundamental question lays at the heart of current Congressional debate over whether national security employees who expose wrongdoing should have the right to fight against retaliation.

Some in Congress believe that protecting national security whistleblowers translates to an eventual dangerous dissemination of classified information. This is fear mongering. The efforts of past intelligence whistleblowers have increased our safety when government managers are missing in action.

If you look at these employees who have been fired or harassed, you do not find people who sought to reveal state secrets. Instead, you meet patriots trying to do their jobs protecting the public by acting as professionals, not bureaucrats.

Richard Barlow had a distinguished CIA career, where he helped the agency find and convict two agents in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development department. Subsequently, he joined the Office of Nonproliferation in the Department of Defense (DoD). In 1989, Barlow then learned that his bosses were misleading Congress by failing to disclose that the planned sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan could potentially help that country deliver nuclear bombs. When he raised those concerns within his agency, he was stripped of his security clearance and labeled a risk. A DoD investigation exonerated him as a threat, but the Pentagon never reinstated his security clearance – successfully destroying his career without any independent appeal rights. Barlow did all he could to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, keep Congress informed, and make the world a safer place. And how was he thanked? To this day he has been denied government pension or health insurance. Pakistan now has its nuclear weapons, but Barlow has yet to get his vindication.

In 2006, 30-year Air Force mechanic George Sarris followed what government posters said was his duty – to contact the Inspector General about bureaucratic misconduct. He challenged maintenance breakdowns for American reconnaissance aircraft over Afghanistan and Iraq. One real risk were potential in-flight fires, caused by not replacing fuel hoses 15 years past expiration. In response, the Air Force IG accused him of committing a crime by “stealing” evidence which they initially demanded he produce to prove his charges. The IG put Sarris under criminal investigation, stripping all job duties by suspending his security clearance. Reassigned to the employee break room, his job was to fill space as an example to others.

Franz Gayl, a retired Marine major, is a civilian Marine Corps Science and Technology Advisor. In 2006, he served in Iraq, where he witnessed over 700 combat fatalities caused by an 18-month delay in providing armored vehicles that withstand roadside bombs. Gayl’s whistleblowing to Congress led to delivery of the mine resistant vehicles, and the unnecessary fatalities ended. However, Marine officials suspended Gayl, took away his key job duties, denied him further training, and placed him under criminal investigation.

These stories, and numerous others, are not just tragedies for the whistleblowers involved. They send a powerful signal to all national security employees: Keep your head down. If you see anything wrong, keep it to yourself.

The climate of fear within our national security agencies is the biggest threat to our national security. As noted FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley observed: “Bureaucratic breakdowns and needless disasters keep recurring, in huge part, because government whistleblowers have been silenced.”

We will never be safe until national security whistleblowers can tell the truth. That cannot happen until Congress gives them normal rights against retaliation, a reform stalled since last year by secret procedural holds that haven’t even been challenged. It is time for the politicians to get serious about protecting those who protect us.

Shanna Devine is Legislative Officer for the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organization based in Washington, D.C.