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Whistleblowers Rally on Twitter for Congressional Support


(Image: Adapted from Whistle, Suits by Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

A recent Twitter chat led by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and Public Citizen began a dialogue on the need for whistleblower protections, revealing the grim realities of whistleblower retaliations.

High-profile whistleblowers Thomas Drake and U.S. Air Marshall Robert MacLean were joined by various Twitter users to enumerate the difficulties they had faced after whistleblowing.

U.S. Coast Guard whistleblower Thomas Day joined the conversation, bringing attention to an amendment he is suggesting to stop whistleblower retaliation called the “The Zero Tolerance for Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Act.”

Day submitted an open letter to the House of Representatives in June and his three-pronged approach to end retaliation includes terminating service based on taking retaliatory actions, a promise for a continued income for whistleblowers, and a reformed disclosure process.

Many other participants also sought robust solutions to ensure whistleblowing is supported and incentivized:

Whistleblower Lisa Black mentioned facing fierce retaliatory action from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after filing a complaint in 2005.

Black’s frustration in the Twitter chat did not surprise us: until recently, POGO was subpoenaed by the VA Office of Inspector General for hundreds of POGO’s whistleblower records. The VA OIG withdrew the subpoena following a hearing with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) where Danielle Brian testified:

When it came to effectiveness among Members of Congress, a lot of Senators in the bipartisan Whistleblower Caucus were also name-dropped:

Overall, the participants looked critically at what Members of Congress and watchdog organizations were doing for the whistleblowers that needed protection. A lot of understandable frustration was shown over the legal processes involved in whistleblower retaliation. Those speaking from personal experience were especially quick to point out failures to “walk the walk” when it came to protecting whistleblowers:

As expected, overwhelming support and empathy was shown for whistleblowers throughout the chat.

As a lot of these discussions are bound to do, the dialogue occasionally steered toward Edward Snowden. Participants began to consider his role as a contractor acting without whistleblowing protections in place:

Contractors engaging in whistleblowing at federal agencies face retaliation without any sort of protection, disincentivizing them from filing complaints to stop waste, fraud, and abuse. Many groups called for congressional action regarding their status:

For more tweets from the discussion, follow #MoreOversight on Twitter.

Topics: Whistleblower Protections

Related Content: Twitter Chats, Democracy

Authors: Iulia Gheorghiu

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