Government Accountabillity Project: Whistleblower Week Events Kick Off Monday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2008
5:19 PM

CONTACT: Government Accountabillity Project
Sarah Goldmann, Nat. Campaign Coordinator for Whistleblower Rights
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext 141
Email: sarahg@whistleblower.org
Contact: Tom Devine, Legal Director
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext 124, 202.888.4080 (cell)
Email: whistle47@aol.com

 
GAP Whistleblower Week Events Kick Off Monday
GAP Participating in Six Events
 
WASHINGTON, DC - May 8 - Next week marks the second year of annual events and conferences aimed at raising awareness of whistleblower issues in Washington, D.C. Two separate coalitions will host conferences. The Government Accountability Project (GAP) will sponsor six forums and/or panels at these conferences.

In chronological order, these events include:

Monday, May 12

Secret Domestic Surveillance
9:00 a.m. – 9:55 a.m., Stewart Mott House, 122 Maryland Avenue, NE

This workshop will discuss the implications of the National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping program on the First Amendment. It will also address warrant-less wiretapping in the context of attorney-client communications, terrorism investigations, the “state secrets privilege,” and consider the implications for pending congressional showdowns such as telecom immunity in FISA legislation to reauthorize limited legal surveillance. Panelists include:

o Jesselyn Radack (Moderator), GAP Homeland Security Director.
o Babak Pasdar, telecommunications whistleblower whose disclosure is credited with turning the tide in the House of Representatives denying corporate immunity in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
o Eric Lichtblau, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist who broke the government’s secret surveillance program.
o Linda Lewis, USDA whistleblower who disclosed a course manual for USDA employees on how to infiltrate and spy on citizen organizations.
o Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU

Are We Safe When We Fly?: Addressing Issues of Aviation Safety & Security
10:00 a.m. – 10:55 a.m., Stewart Mott House, 122 Maryland Avenue, NE

This panel focuses on the federal government’s dangerous and deceptive policy of shielding the industry from liability; failing to execute genuine protections against terrorism while fostering a false pretense of safety; and retaliating against federal and aviation industry employees who witness and report threats to aviation safety and security.

o Ingrid Drake (Moderator), Fellow, Project on Government Oversight
o Bogdan Dzakovic, Transportation Security Administration, FAA Red Team Whistleblower
o Gabe Bruno, Former FAA Manager
o Shawn McCullers, Former Federal Air Marshal (FAMS), TSA/DHS

Scientific Freedom & the Public Good
11:30 a.m. – 12:25 a.m., Stewart Mott House, 122 Maryland Avenue, NE

This panel, co-sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, addresses the effects of scientific censorship across a wide range of issues, including prescription drug safety, climate change, and mercury emission levels. Panelists include:

o Celia Wexler (Facilitator), Washington Representative, Union of Concerned Scientists
o Rick Piltz, Former Senior Associate, U.S. Climate Change Science Program and Director of GAP’s Climate Science Watch Program
o David Ross, FDA drug safety whistleblower
o Tim Donaghy, Researcher/Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Joint Congressional Forum: Congress at the Crossroads for Your Rights
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 342

GAP, the Semmelweis Society, and Public Citizen will host this forum, where Congressional members and staff, whistleblowers, NGO’s, and the public will recognize and discuss recent gains made in whistleblower rights and legislation. Congressional offices will be presented with awards honoring their leadership on these issues. The awarded offices will provide an update on the eight-year legislative campaign to overhaul the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), corporate whistleblower legislation, and other pending specific whistleblower bills, and engage in a dialogue with the whistleblower community on how to help most effectively. Participants will include staff or members of 12 congressional offices: Sen. Daniel Akaka (D.-Hi), Sen. Susan Collins (R.-Me), Rep. Tom Davis (R.-Va), Rep. John Dingell (D.-Mi), Sen. Charles Grassley (R.-Ia), Rep. Ed Markey (D.-Ma), Rep. Todd Platts (R.-Pa), Rep. Christopher Shays (R.-Ct), Rep. Bart Stupak (D.-Mi), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D.-Ms), Rep. Henry Waxman (D.-Ca), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

The forum will conclude with a legislative panel focusing on the rights at stake in various pending legislation, and their importance. A speaker from Public Citizen will offer introductory remarks. Elizabeth Slavet, former Chair of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, will moderate the discussion, which will include the following NGO’s (with specialized expertise on specific issues):

o National Employment Lawyers Association (Corporate Whistleblower Protection)
o Government Accountability Project (Jury Trial Rights)
o National Whistleblower Center (FBI/Intelligence Agency WPA Coverage)
o OMB Watch (Hybrid Secrecy Categories, State Secrets Privilege)
o Project on Government Oversight (Contractor Whistleblower Rights)
o Semmelweis Society (Medical Whistleblower Rights)
o Union of Concerned Scientists (Scientific Freedom)
o American Federation of Government Employees (TSA/Screener whistleblower rights)


Tuesday, May 13

Forum on the Office of Special Counsel
9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m., Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave, NW.

This forum will focus on the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), its nondiscretionary duties as an investigatory agency for the laws under its jurisdiction (particularly to protect federal employees from whistleblower reprisal), efforts to spur Congress to perform necessary oversight, and what the recent federal raid on the office means for its future. Panelists include:

o Joe Carson, P.E., Nuclear Safety Engineer, DOE.
o David Nolan, Legal Advisor to OSC Watch Steering Committee.
o Carol Czarkowski, Former Department of Navy Contracting Officer.
o Sandalio “Sandy” Gonzalez, Former Special Agent Officer in charge of DEA.


Thursday, May 15

From Immunity to Impunity: Whistleblowers at International Organizations
12 p.m. – 1 p.m., Stewart Mott House, 122 Maryland Avenue, NE

Because International Financial Institutions (IFIs) enjoy immunity from national laws, staff members and consultants who report corruption and fraud internally are vulnerable to retaliation. This panel presents the problems confronted by IFI staff members and project beneficiaries who blew the whistle because of legal immunities; a case in which both the whistleblower and the project beneficiaries were victimized by a World Bank health care project and the corruption it fostered in India; and a decision in a groundbreaking case allowing a lawsuit to proceed against an IFI in US District Court. Panelists include:

o Mishka Zaman, Asia Program Director of the Bank Information Center. Zaman will discuss the transparency and accountability practices of the Asian Development Bank, identifying issues where the rhetoric and the reality diverge.
o Kunal Saha, M.D. An independent HIV/AIDS researcher, Dr. Saha served on the investigation team of the Department of Institutional Integrity of the World Bank and exposed corruption in the National AIDS Control Project II in India.
o Douglas Hartnett, Elitok and Hartnett at Law, LLC. Hartnett successfully challenged the immunity of an IFI in Vila v. the Inter-American Investment Corporation. A ruling in favor of the plaintiff was made by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in February, 2008.

All panelists listed above, from any panel, will be representing their own personal opinions, not those of their employers.

GAP is working in conjunction with the Semmelweis Society on the Joint Congressional Forum event. For more information, visit http://www.semmelweis.org/ or http://allianceforpatientsafety.org/

The numerous events, in addition to those listed above, scheduled for next week involving the promotion of whistleblower rights, are each part of two separate events: the International Assembly of Whistleblowers, which is being sponsored by the International Association of Whistleblowers, and Washington Whistleblower Week, which is sponsored by the No Fear Coalition, Semmelweis Society, and the Bill of Rights Foundation. For more information about other events next week, visit www.internationalassociationofwhistleblowers.net or http://groups.msn.com/NoFearCoalition.


Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C.

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