Massively Confused!

John blueoval at SGI.NET
Wed Feb 21 21:18:04 MST 2001


The Free Congress Commentary
NAACP: Dividers, Not Uniters
by John Nowacki
If there's one thing the leaders of the NAACP apparently can't stand, it's
the notion of being even mildly civil toward people with whom they disagree.
At the NAACP's annual meeting on Saturday, board chairman Julian Bond
announced that "instead of uniting us, the new Administration almost daily
separates and divides us."  He told the audience that the Administration
"selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the
wretched appetites of the extreme right-wing and chose Cabinet officials
whose devotion to the Confederacy is almost canine in its uncritical
affection."  President Bush, he added, has "had his picture taken with more
black people than voted for him in last year's election."
The Taliban, the Islamic militia that seized control of Afghanistan in 1996,
has been in the news a lot lately, usually in connection with suspected
terrorist Osama bin Laden.  One month before Bond compared conservatives to
the Taliban, its troops reportedly rounded up about 300 men and boys from
their homes and work sites and then shot them in the head.
Bond's comparison was outrageous, and the mild-by-comparison Confederate
remarks have long since been shown to be without merit.  Yet his remarks
hardly caused a ripple; this was just business as usual.
Take his group's actions in the recent election, for example.  In October,
the NAACP--well, technically the NAACP National Voter Fund--launched a $2
million race-baiting ad campaign equating then-Governor Bush with the
murderers of James Byrd, Jr.  The strongest of the four ads featured a
re-enactment of Byrd's heinous murder and a voice-over by his daughter, who
said that when Bush didn't sign hate-crimes legislation in Texas, "it was
like my father was killed all over again."
While attacks on conservatives are frequently outrageous and inflammatory,
the NAACP leaders apparently agree with everyone who overlooked Bond's
remarks--it's nothing to get worked up about.  NAACP president Kweisi Mfume
nonchalantly announced at that same meeting that he will "reach out" to
President Bush in an effort to "try to broker some sense of real progress .
. . Our desire is to open doors."
Julian Bond has it wrong.  It is not George W. Bush who daily separates and
divides this nation--it is the professional race-baiters and the leaders
whose own speeches are deliberately calculated to cause strife and keep
animosities high.  I'm not certain what it takes for someone in American
politics to have "wretched appetites," but if anyone does, surely it is
those who casually equate their opponents with murderers and mass-murders.
And Mr. Bond ought to know it.
John Nowacki is deputy director of the Free Congress Foundation's Center for
Law and Democracy.
For media inquiries, contact Notra Trulock  202.546.3000 /
<ntrulock at freecongress.org>
For other questions or comments, contact Angie Wheeler
<awheeler at freecongress.org>


Whistleblowers Urge President Bush
Not to Move on Just Yet
Clinton Administration "Casualties" Emphasize Importance of Unfinished
Business

Washington, DC   A conference of "whistleblowers" today urged the Bush
Administration not to ignore the many unresolved scandals and corruption
cases left over from the past eight years of the Clinton Administration.

*       Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, known for his efforts to expose
incompetence and malfeasance at the FBI laboratories, revealed that much
remains to be done to implement the recommendations of an internal Inspector
General report.
*       Linda Shenwick, the State Department whistleblower who exposed
mismanagement and financial abuses at the United Nations, is still fighting
to regain her position after being fired by Madeline Albright. The abuses
she uncovered continue to plague the US mission in New York.
*       Dr. Peter Leitner, of the Pentagon, reported that decisions made to
provide China with fiber optic manufacturing technologies came back to
"haunt" the US when the Chinese were discovered installing a fiber optic air
defense network in Iraq.  He asked if the costs associated with last week's
bombing raids on Iraq balanced out the corporate profits made by a past
decision to permit export of this technology.
*       Notra Trulock cast doubt on Energy Department claims that National
Laboratory security vulnerabilities have been fixed.  But Trulock also noted
the irony of FBI Director Louis Freeh lecturing the Energy Department on its
security vulnerabilities while in his own agency a mole was selling secrets
to the Russians. Lax security within the FBI enabled the mole to go
undetected for 15 years.  Trulock discussed his experiences as a target of a
FBI investigation and called for Freeh's immediate resignation.

All agreed that the key to effective protection for whistleblowers is the
appointment of people of integrity to critical positions, especially to the
role of Departmental Inspectors General.  They expressed the hope that the
Clinton Administration's retaliation against whistleblowers was just another
manifestation of the "most ethical administration in the nation's history."
They did express great concern over the Bush Administration's willingness to
allow some of the worse offenders of the Clinton days to retain their
positions of authority after Clinton left office.

Accuracy in Media, Judicial Watch, Free Congress Foundation, and the
National Whistleblower Center sponsored the conference.
For media inquiries, contact Notra Trulock  202.546.3000 /
<ntrulock at freecongress.org>

The following is a speech from the conference held February 21, 2001: Why We
Should Encourage Whistleblowers: How Whistleblowers Can Help Achieve Honest
and Effective Government

Whistleblowers -- What are they good for?
by Notra Trulock
             Whistleblowers.  What are they good for?  In the view of most of
official Washington, both the executive branch and Capitol Hill ---
absolutely nothing.
             Disgruntled employees, zealots, even kooks are some of the nicer
things said of whistleblowers in the agencies and on the Hill.  Sure, there
is a lot of lip service paid to whistleblowers in public, but each
whistleblower knows full well that this is just talk.  The reality is very
different, and not a lot of fun, either.  I intend to cover three general
topics today: the value of safeguards for whistleblowers; the role of
Capitol Hill in protecting whistleblowers; and, the potential consequences
for whistleblowing.
                Let's preface this by making two points.  First, I am
talking about the experiences of whistleblowing in the "most ethical
administration in U.S. history."  The Administration that promised to "Put
People First".  Of course, we quickly found out that the people that came
first were mostly fat cats, Hollywood types, and foreign big money donors.
Whistleblowers just didn't make the cut for the Clinton Administration.  But
excuse me if I suspect that the difference between the Clintons and former
administrations was simply one of degree.  Secondly, I distinguish between
"true" whistleblowers and those who simply exploit the term.  In this
regard, I think of many federal employees who seek whistleblower protection
as a cover for their own work performance deficiencies.  Similarly, although
some may disagree, I do not consider Linda Tripp to be a whistleblower in
any sense of the word.  I am sure that at least some of today's speakers
shudder when they hear her advertised as a "federal whistleblower."
                I doubt that anyone sets out to be a whistleblower, since
the act of whistleblowing is hardly career enhancing.  I suspect most find
themselves in the role of whistleblower as the consequence of a sequence of
small steps, each taken in consideration simply of what's right and what's
not.  Each step I took on my path was always taken in the belief, naïve as
it seems, that it was the right thing to do and if the "word" just got
through to the right decision maker, everything would be ok.  Sort of
like...if only Stalin knew, he would stop the purges immediately.
Hopefully, there are situations in which once the "right" person learns of
the "problem", the "abuse", the "fraud", that person does the "right" thing
and so we never hear about these cases.  It just seems, however, the bigger
the stakes, the harder it is to find that person.  I don't know if there are
common traits or characteristics that whistleblowers share: to list
integrity, an intense drive to do the right thing, self-assurance, "courage"
all sounds very self-serving to me.  Each has a mix of all these things, but
I also wonder how many of us would do it again, knowing what we now know?
The stakes are very high; I'm not sure they are worth it to be truthful.
Why do I say that?
                First, because the safeguards to protect whistleblowers are
worth little more than the paper they're are printed on.  Whistleblowers are
always told to work through the "chain of command".  But of course if the
chain of command worked, there would be no reason to blow the whistle.  I
stayed within my chain of command at the Department of Energy for well over
two years, to no avail.  Delay, delay, and stall are nearly always the
response of the "chain of command."  Almost by definition, a whistleblower
is "ratting out" an immediate supervisor and perhaps even several
supervisors up the chain of command.  Those supervisors have no incentive to
allow the whistleblower to work up the chain of command.  In other cases,
the message the whistleblower is carrying is so "at odds" with the policy
objectives of the Department that the chain of command rejects the message
and the messenger out of hand.   That best describes my experience.  I did
not criticize Administration policy on China, although I was once warned by
a White House official that he would "tell President Clinton that Notra
Trulock disagreed with his China policy" if I didn't concur with an
intelligence assessment I knew to be flat wrong.  My objective was simply to
inform senior DOE officials of an on-going espionage investigation within
the National Labs and to seek their assistance in closing security
vulnerabilities and gaps that were (and are) well known throughout the
government.  It was not my role, nor ever my intent, to shut down access to
the labs by foreign nuclear scientists or travel by our scientists to
foreign nuclear facilities; those were decisions to be made by policy
makers, not intelligence officials.  But I did see my job as ensuring that
senior policy makers were aware of the potential risks; I repeatedly asked
myself what were these officials so afraid of that they continually blocked
access to the Secretary or other senior officials in the Department.
Imagine a situation in which a Cabinet officer is unaware of a major
espionage investigation within his own Department for well over 6 months; an
investigation every other Cabinet officer setting next to him at Cabinet
meetings know about.  How could this happen?
                There are numerous whistleblower protections and policies on
the books.  But we know that these policies are only as good as the people
that enforce them.  If this is one truth about the Clinton Administration,
it is that it never let policy get in the way of doing what it wanted to do
- including shutting down whistleblowers.  When I reached out to the General
Counsel for assistance and information, I was told that I wasn't eligible
for whistleblower protection, that I wasn't covered, that they would get
back to me, etc.  As I said, delay, delay, stall.
                Then of course there is the Inspector General.  For
intelligence officials, at least, and probably all the other whistleblowers,
the IG is the last line of defense.  The IG is supposed to be independent
and capable of conducting investigations free of political interference.
The IG reports I looked at on intelligence at DOE that were done during the
Reagan and Bush Administrations certainly met that standard: hard-hitting,
"with the bark off", and with well-drawn recommendations.  At DOE, at least
during the Clinton era, the IG became just another tool of political
intimidation.  For example, I made at least three different referrals to the
IG of political interference in intelligence activities during my tenure as
Intelligence Director.  In one case, policy makers had repeatedly
compromised highly classified intelligence information, then repeatedly
blocked efforts by intelligence security officials to conduct routine
inspections of the automated systems that contained this information.  The
IG was of absolutely no value in trying to clean up this problem; its
response was largely confined to shrugging its shoulders.  No findings, no
recommendations, no nothing.  This was the IG's response to the other
referrals as well.
                    Finally, Bill Richardson commissioned an IG
investigation of my allegations that Clinton political appointees had
blocked requests from Capitol Hill for information on the KINDRED SPIRIT
case.  The final IG report simply passed it off as a "he said, she said"
situation.  It did note, however, a completely untrue and unproven
allegation that I had threatened to blow the whistle on the Chinese
espionage case if I didn't receive a promotion.  Why include that in an IG
report, if the IG hadn't become a tool of the Department?  Worse still, it
is common knowledge within DOE that the first draft of the report did name
names, but that Secretary Richardson and DOE's patron Senator on Capitol
Hill rejected the IG's findings; the result was the dumbed-down "see no
evil, hear no evil" report.
                    Speaking of Capitol Hill, what about its role in
protecting whistleblowers?  Of all my experiences as a whistleblower,
dealing with our elected representatives was the most illuminating.  First,
by nature whistleblowers become caught up in the partisan battles on the
Hill.  For a time, I was the darling of the Republicans on the Hill as I was
reporting on the refusal of a Democratic administration to deal with a
serious national security problem.  "We'll protect you" I was told.  "We
know that they will come after you, and we'll protect you" I was repeatedly
assured.  Of course, the Democratic members were my worse enemies.  Senators
Levin and Bingaman were especially memorable.  Bingaman repeatedly misquoted
and distorted my testimony and repeatedly sought to attribute statements to
me that I never made.  But legislation did get passed, mandates were levied
on DOE regarding security, and even some additional whistleblower protection
was build into DOE's authorization bill.  And pretty much ignored by
Richardson and company.  Nevertheless, these are on the books and hopefully
the Secretary Abraham will enforce them.
                The real test of course came this past summer when the
Administration came after me full force.  I can state that, save for two
senators Arlen Specter and Bob Smith, and one Congressman, Curt Weldon,
every other former congressional supporter couldn't get away quick enough.
Of special note, Senator Shelby and Congressman Goss, chairmen of the Senate
and House Intelligence Committees, respectively, failed to respond to
repeated requests for assistance.  My Senator, Senator Warner, couldn't be
bothered.  So forget Capitol Hill.  Of course, the FBI was fishing around
for correspondence on the Senate side, which probably intimidated a lot of
Senators.  Representative Burton also caught the FBI in a flat out lie about
my case, but nothing ever came of that either.  The FBI managed to convince
a lot of my former supporters that I was a true danger to U.S. national
security.  It is surprising just how little interest there is on Capitol
Hill these days in this topic.
                    And then of course there are the personal consequences.
Most whistleblowers find their careers at a dead end, assuming they hold
onto their jobs.  Years spent building professional expertise, a reputation,
networks, are pretty much down the drain.  Depending on the profile of the
case, things can get very ugly.  Disgruntled employee, incompetent, zealot,
crackpot, kook are just some of the terms applied to whistleblowers.  As I
learned, it can get much, much worse.  Colleagues and friends become very
scarce and phone calls don't get returned.  Is it worth it?
        But that was then and this is now.   A new Administration is in town
with true conservatives in key spots, especially Justice.  Should we hope
for anything better from them?  In fairness, its probably too early to
expect much, although returning phone calls is probably not too much to ask.
The President's references to "moving on" are worrisome.  Should we move on,
on "chinagate", for example?  In the view of many, most recently the
Washington Times editorial page, certainly not.  And does anyone really
believe that the Chinese, Russians, and others have given up targeting our
National labs or that these labs are really safer now?  The President should
ensure, however, that each department dusts off it whistleblower
protections, hires an IG that is strong and independent, and creates a
climate in which whistleblowers are seen as people trying to make the
department or agency a better place.  Check back with me in six months for
an update.
For media inquiries, contact Notra Trulock  202.546.3000 /
<ntrulock at freecongress.org>


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