11 July 2014, 16:08

Whistleblower Counteroffensive Against the Feds Shakes Up Washington

Whistleblower Counteroffensive Against the Feds Shakes Up Washington

By David Kerans

WASHINGTON (VR)— The strongest public relations campaign to encourage government whistleblowers to-date launched Friday in Washington.

ExposeFacts, an organization devoted to encouraging responsible whistleblowing in both the public and private sectors, has put up thirteen billboards featuring Daniel Ellsberg (who published The Pentagon Papers in 1971) exhorting officials to expose wrongdoing, lest their silence perpetuate wrongdoing or even facilitate war.

The public relations initiative is certainly timely. It is becoming clear that behind every government whistleblower like Edward Snowden stand large numbers of officials whose work troubles their conscience. And the government’s shabby response to the sensational revelations of Snowden (about illegal mass surveillance of innocent people) and John Kiriakou (regarding CIA torture) has only generated more disillusionment. Congress’s dilution of NSA reforms proposed in the USA Freedom Act (see our report here) looks likely to be another lost opportunity to regain the trust of its employees, the nation, and the world.

Photo credit: © Exposefacts.org

ExposeFacts was established in June 2014, as a project within the Institute for Public Accuracy, the San Francisco-based progressive and grassroots advocacy organization formed in 1997.

It is not the only organization in the space. Another one, devoted specifically to encouraging whistleblowing from within the military, police, and first responder sectors, is Oath Keepers, established in Nevada in 2012. Oath Keepers ran similar billboard campaigns in Washington in the summer and fall of 2013 (see our reports here and here).

Matthew Hoh, the highest-ranking US administrator in Afghanistan or Iraq to have resigned in protest over perceived government malfeasance, sits on the advisory board for ExposeFacts. He told Radio VR that ExposeFacts meets a need by stitching together support for whistleblowers from various quarters, and giving them a support network.

When asked about the level of unease about government behavior among employees in sensitive sectors in the wake of the Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden affairs, Hoh said “I think there has been a marked shift.” And he senses that the government’s handling of whistleblowers testifies to this:

“Look at the response of the US government, how forcefully they have gone after whistleblowers, the numbers of people being charged under the Espionage Act, the amount of money being spent on these cases, the example they are trying to make of these people.” He infers from this that the numbers of employees losing trust in the government must be rising, and the authorities know it.

One thing is certain: thanks to organizations like ExposeFacts, WikiLeaks, Oath Keepers, and WildLeaks (the recently launched secure platform for submitting evidence of crimes against wildlife and forests), more and more government employees are becoming aware of secure venues to reveal lawlessness, abuse of authority, and coruption.

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