August 1, 2014

The Editor Speaks: The persecution of whistleblowers

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Colin WilsonwebFrom GAP

What is a Whistleblower?

Every year, thousands of Americans witness wrongdoing on the job. These workers discover waste, fraud, abuse or malfeasance that could jeopardize the lives of others, or well-being of the public. They may see food processing plants sending contaminated and dangerous meat to consumers, nuclear facilities in gross violations of safety protocols, a chemical company dump hazardous waste into rivers unlawfully, or accounting fraud that deceives thousands of stockholders.

Most employees remain silent, typically out of fear of losing their positions. Others choose to risk their professional (and personal) well-being and come forward with the truth. They seek to make a difference by “blowing the whistle” on unethical conduct in the workplace.

Our composite definition of whistleblower taken from combined state, federal and international cases is:

An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.

(http://www.whistleblower.org/about/what-is-a-whistleblower)

From JESSELYN RADACK Washington, Sept. 4, 2013

The writer is the director of national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project (GAP).

“I agree that Congress is sorely in need of something akin to the Church Committee, which documented decades of law enforcement abuses against civil liberties groups. However, I don’t agree that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court needs more secret judges.

“The FISA court was specifically tailored to provide a check and balance between Fourth Amendment principles and the government’s authority to use electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. Instead, this secret court, which hears from only one side (the government’s), is basically a rubber stamp of whatever the executive branch wants to do.

“In fact, we wouldn’t be having this debate at all but for the brave disclosures of Edward J. Snowden. The court issues secret orders containing secret interpretations of law and has far exceeded its jurisdiction by deciding that indiscriminate mass domestic surveillance is consistent with a democracy and constitutional norms.

“Any investigative body tasked with evaluating the damage done by the still-expanding surveillance state will need more than whistle-blowers and journalists. It will need meaningful investigative authority, teeth to force powerful executive agencies and corporations to cooperate with its investigation, and the ability to impose consequences for wrongdoing.

“Meanwhile, both whistle-blowers and journalists are facing criminal consequences; the United States has branded whistle-blowers as spies and accused journalists of being criminal co-conspirators. Protecting those who exposed government lawbreaking is as necessary as holding the lawbreakers accountable.”

END

Here in Cayman we don’t have too many Whistleblowers but we do have our activists who also face persecution.

The media house Cayman News Service (CNS) followed the pioneering steps of the late Desmond Seales in Cayman Net News in allowing the ‘ordinary’ (and not so ‘ordinary) people a voice. They could air their grievances and the Internet has been a champion for them and not only here.

Like everything else it gets abused but I am not an advocate of a watchdog to vet before publishing. It must be left to the discretion of the media’s publisher. We have enough overseeing and spying. The Big Brother syndrome that was prevalent in the Dictator led countries when I was a lad some 50/60 years ago was sneered at. I used to thank my lucky stars I didn’t live under a regime like that.

George Orwell’s world was fiction.

Alas 9/11 changed all that. There had always been secret government organisations spying on us – for our protection of course – but there were laws passed that clipped their wings and kept them to a certain extent in check.

Not so now. For our own good we have given up the rights we had.

Anyone whistleblowing on his employer who sees fraud, mismanagement must be a very brave man or woman. Especially so if the organization is large and well known. If it’s a government, you are in big trouble.

Social media, that first these companies and government abhorred, they now use to their own advantage. It is so easy for them to have their own packs of unidentified persons attacking the whistleblower with lies, abuse, etc. We all read them and it is hard to weed out the wheat from the chaff.

Governments can label you a spy and even a terrorist as has happened to Snowden.

Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been accused by two women of sexual assault. Strange neither of these women came forward before Assange published US military and diplomatic documents.

In a story I have highlighted in iNews today we have a once respected and awarded ex RSPCA officer who went to the media saying the very organization set up to protect beasts was actually putting to death perfectly fit and well animals.

The woman was then accused of theft by the RSPCA and received hate mail via Twitter and Facebook. She could take no more and committed suicide.

Of course it couldn’t happen here.

Well it is my opinion it could. The powers being given to the police here in Cayman for wiretapping and the secrecy surrounding it is very worrying.

It is no use saying I am a law abiding citizen and therefore it doesn’t matter.

Wouldn’t you be screaming, “foul”, if all your letters were being opened and read. There were laws in place to prevent this happening. Now there are laws in place where every email you send and receive can be read by a third party – a government official.

Are you sure you would be happy in someone reading every one of your emails even though you are a law abiding citizen? Would you be happy in someone knowing every website you visit? Just type in a search engine pet lovers and see what that brings up! And the RSPCA isn’t at the top of the list.

The whistleblowers I am afraid will become a figment very soon. Gone are the days they were hailed as heroes.

They are traitors every one.

Just writing this I could soon become an enemy of the state. And what a state I would be in then.

The only thing I could do would be just that. Whistle.

 

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