“American Whistleblower Tour” Comes to AU

For Immediate Release

Contact: 
Dylan Blaylock
202.408.0034 ext. 137

“American Whistleblower Tour” Comes to AU

Panel to Feature New York Times Journalist James Risen, NSA Whistleblowers Tom Drake and Bill Binney, and GAP’s Legal Director Tom Devine

WASHINGTON - On Tuesday, Feb. 17, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) will bring its acclaimed program, the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability, to American University. The stop will feature a screening of the updated Brave New Films documentary War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State now featuring an interview with Edward Snowden. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with award-winning New York Times journalist James Risen, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Bill Binney, and GAP Legal Director Tom Devine.

GAP's Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. The event is free to all, and a full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org. In regard to the importance of the Tour, Tom Devine Noted, 

“The War on Whistleblowers is timeless. It didn’t start with the current administration, it will never end, and the harassment techniques are limited only by the imagination. Since traditional employment rights are peaking for whistleblowers, predictably, the tactics have shifted.

“Now the government is creating new, all-encompassing national security loopholes that trump virtually any employee’s existing legal rights. Even worse, it has launched a dangerous new effort to prosecute whistleblowers as criminals – instead of firing them, the new goal is to put whistleblowers in jail.”

This tour stop is sponsored by GAP, Brave New Films (BNF), and American University’s School of International Service’s Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs MA Program. The event will last from 7 p.m. ­– 9 p.m. at AU’s Abramson Family Founders Room, located at 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016 with a light reception following the panel.

Speakers

James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times and author of the book “State of War,” which helped expose a failed C.I.A. mission that potentially accelerated Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Following the book’s publication, Mr. Risen was subpoenaed by the government to identify his sources, and after refusing, became embroiled in a seven-year legal battle in which he was threatened with jail time. Mr. Risen’s unwavering dedication to exposing the truth at any cost has made him a hero, and shed light on the vulnerability of the First Amendment.

Thomas Drake is a whistleblower who has dedicated his life to safeguarding his country. After serving in the U.S. Air Force for over 10 years, Mr. Drake became a CIA analyst and senior executive at the NSA. After witnessing massive amounts of waste, abuse, and possible constitutional violations within the organization, Mr. Drake took his concerns to his superiors and to Congress. When nothing was done, he blew the whistle to the Baltimore Sun, and was subsequently charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. In the face of mounting public support for Drake and overwhelming media coverage, the case against him was dropped four days before the trial was set to begin. Mr. Drake has been lauded for his honesty, patriotism, and commitment to the constitution. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Ridenhour Prize for truth-telling.

William (Bill) Binney is a former NSA crypto-mathematician who worked in the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (SARC). Binney developed the ThinThread program – a high-tech information-gathering system that could protect Americans’ privacy by filtering out irrelevant data, eliminating the need to forward and store large amounts of information. However, the NSA would instead opt for a multi-billion dollar program that existed only on paper and lacked privacy safeguards. After witnessing wasteful, fraudulent, and possible unconstitutional behavior involving spying programs, Binney would file a complaint through established channels, and as a reward, would have his home raided by the FBI and endure unnecessary harassment form the intelligence community. His disclosures continue to have a tremendous impact on the ongoing debate about the scope of the ever-expanding security state. 

Tom Devine is GAP’s Legal Director, and has worked at the organization since 1979. Since that time, Tom has assisted over 5,000 whistleblowers in defending themselves against retaliation and in making real differences on behalf of the public. He has been a leader in the campaigns to pass or defend 20 major national or international whistleblower laws, including every one enacted over the last two decades. Tom has also authored or co-authored numerous books, including 2011's The Corporate Whistleblowers Survival Guide: A Handbook for Committing the Truth.

The film features whistleblowers Michael DeKort, Thomas Drake, Franz Gayl and Thomas Tamm, and journalists, including David Carr, Lucy Dalglish, Glenn Greenwald, Seymour Hersh, Michael Isikoff, Bill Keller, Eric Lipton, Jane Mayer, Dana Priest, Tom Vanden Brook and Sharon Weinberger, who helped expose the truths revealed by whistleblowers and stood to defend the freedom of the press. American University Professor Jeff Bachman will moderate the panel discussion following the film.

 About the Tour

This AU stop is the third of several to be held this academic year. During the 2013-14 academic year, the American Whistleblower Tour visited 10 colleges, including Stanford, Princeton, Syracuse, Florida International University, and USC's Annenberg School. GAP secures some of the most prominent whistleblowers in American history for its tour; past whistleblower presenters have included Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Frank Serpico (NYPD), Sherron Watkins (Enron), and Thomas Drake (NSA).

Goals of the Tour include raising awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in our democracy, preparing America's youth for ethical decision-making, countering negative connotations associated with whistleblowing, connecting prospective whistleblowers to available resources, and encouraging academic studies of whistleblowing.

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The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.

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