The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dylan Blaylock, Communications Dir.
202.408.0034 ext. 137

Tuesday Panel Examines Future of Domestic Surveillance Controversy

Panel is Centerpiece of National Assembly Aimed at Strengthening Federal Whistleblower Protections


The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is pleased to announce that
tomorrow, as part of the National Whistleblower Assembly conference currently
underway, a blockbuster panel discussion will be held on Capitol Hill examining
the past, current, and future state of the controversy surrounding the
warrantless wiretapping scandal.

The discussion, "Domestic Surveillance: The Next Steps," will run from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Russell Senate Office Building 385, tomorrow (Tuesday) March 10. The
panel will feature prominent individuals and nonprofit leaders involved with
the secret surveillance scandal since the story broke in 2005. The panel will
be moderated by GAP Homeland Security Director Jesselyn
Radack, herself a Department of Justice whistleblower. Topics
covered will include: the current FISA provisions; lawsuits against the Justice
Department regarding Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of
domestic surveillance; the Obama administration's public stance on the
matter; and what interested citizens, advocacy groups and politicians can do to
ensure privacy rights. Participants in the panel include:

  • Thomas
    In his
    first public speaking appearance, Tamm, the subject of a recent Newsweek cover story, will discuss
    his experience of working in the Justice Department unit handling wiretaps
    of suspected terrorists and spies when he stumbled upon the existence of
    the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program, which
    deliberately circumvented the FISA
    Court. He blew the whistle to the New York Times, which didn't
    report the story for 18 months, after which President Bush condemned the
    leak as a "shameful act." The Times won a Pulitzer prize for the story, but Tamm became
    the subject of a criminal leak investigation, and had his house raided,
    property seized, and friends and family interrogated
  • Marc
    Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) will
    discuss how EPIC is the lead plaintiff in a FOIA lawsuit to release the
    Justice Department's most controversial Office of Legal Counsel
    memos on secret surveillance.
  • Michael
    The Chief Legislative and Policy Counsel for the ACLU will discuss how the
    ACLU legislative agenda is geared toward addressing ongoing surveillance
    issues. In particular, he'll touch on the expiring pieces of the Patriot
    Act, NSL reform, and the ACLU's call for accountability of executive
    branch abuses in recent history - including a review of surveillance

This panel is part of the National Whistleblower
Assembly, an annual national conference of whistleblowers, which seeks many goals
including raising awareness of pending federal whistleblower protection
legislation to be introduced by the House this month. Last month, legislation
that would have granted federal employees involved with stimulus funds the
right to blow the whistle on uncovered wrongdoing, waste and fraud, was
stripped out of the House-Senate conference committee that reconciled the $787
billion "Stimulus Bill."

The NWA started on Sunday and has events running
throughout Wednesday. Click here for a full list and updated schedule of events
for NWA:

Individual co-sponsors of the NWA include GAP, the
Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Union of Concerned
Scientists (UCS), National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), National
Whistleblowers Center (NWC), the University of the District of Columbia David
A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL), Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest,
and the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW).

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.