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Darby: The Perils of Blowing the Whistle

Sleeping with a loaded weapon under your pillow � hiding with your family in �exile� � being called a traitor � having your life threatened � sounds like the life of a criminal, maybe even a terrorist, right? WRONG. Abu Ghraib�s leading whistleblower, Joe Darby, emerged this week to tell his story about exposing the prison scandal and the incredible saga he has faced as a result. Mr. Darby�s travails are an extreme but not unprecedented version of what almost all whistleblowers face when they try to expose and challenge corruption.

The saddest part of Mr. Darby�s story, and also a recurring theme, is that the Pentagon, which should have protected his identity, completely botched the job � Defense Secretary Rumsfeld himself blew the lid off the top when he identified Mr. Darby�s identity at a Congressional hearing. And some in Congress have the temerity to chastise whistleblowers for going to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other news outlets. The news media not only has a good track record of keeping their sources secret, but it compels the government to act, something which has been all too rare when Congress is left to its own devices to deal with whistleblowers.

The House Government Reform Committee should be congratulated for recognizing and trying to address the problem with hearings, legislation, and even subpoenas to Secretary Rumsfeld when the Pentagon stone-walled. Unfortunately, many members of Congress have been mistakenly led to believe that leaks are a problem, rather than an opportunity to strengthen their authority and ability to oversee the Executive Branch.

By: Beth Daley
Director of Investigations, POGO

At the time of publication, Beth Daley was the Director of Investigations for the Project On Government Oversight.

Authors: Beth Daley

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