On Wed., Jul. 24, at 7:00 p.m., UFPPC will sponsor a screening of Robert Greenwald's documentary film "War on Whistleblowers" at the Grand Cinema in Tacoma. -- The film was released in April 2013, a few weeks before Edward Snowden's revelations. -- It discusses the cases of Michael DeKort, Thomas Drake, Franz Gayl, and Thomas Tamm, as well as that of historic Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. -- Admission is $10; proceeds will go to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund. -- A discussion will follow the film. -- "War on Whistleblowers" was reviewed in the Washington Post in April. -- "[T]he stories about the government’s aggressive moves against federal employees who worked to uphold the finest traditions of public service are chilling and deserve the notice and outrage the film hopes to generate," Joe Davidson said....
WHAT: "War on Whistleblowers," a documentary film
WHO: Film by Robert Greenwald -- with discussion following
WHEN: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 -- 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett, Tacoma, WA 98402
Admission: $10. Proceeds go to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund.
http://WarOnWhistleblowers.BrownPaperTickets.com for Advance Tickets
"If you had free rein overs classified networks . . . and you saw incredible things, awful things . . . things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C. . . . what would you do?"
"God knows what happens now . . . Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms . . . I want people to see the truth . . . because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public."
The above quotes are from an online chat by Bradley Manning. But he has been barred from introducing them at trial in his defense.
* * *
Sponsored by United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
The Fed Page
NEW FILM LOOKS AT 'WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS'
By Joe Davidson
April 23, 2013
The Obama administration’s approach to federal whistleblowers has been likened to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
On the good doctor’s side, President Obama has important accomplishments in protecting the rights of whistleblowers. Yet whistleblower advocates are fuming at the administration’s actions against federal employees whom it considers to be leakers of national security information.
“There’s a schizophrenia within the administration,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the nonprofit Government Accountability Project. “It’s been Obama versus Obama on whistleblower policy. Until recently, there was a virtual free-speech advocacy for whistleblower job rights that’s unprecedented, more than any other president in history.
“At the same time,” Devine added, “he has willingly allowed the Justice Department to prosecute whistleblowers on tenuous grounds.”
That last point -- the Mr. Hyde side -- is the focus of the new film “War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State.” (Disclosure: The documentary features comments by Dana Priest, a Washington Post colleague.) It is a project of the Brave New Foundation, a social justice advocacy organization. The film is being shown in theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, but the main distribution channels will be iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and cable systems.
The Justice Department rejects the notion that it is overzealous in its prosecution of those the government calls national security leakers.
“Unauthorized disclosures of classified information cause damage to our national security and we take the investigation and prosecution of such matters very seriously,” Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said via e-mail. “In these and all other cases, Justice Department investigators and prosecutors follow the facts and the law to determine whether charges are appropriate.”
The Justice Department does not target whistleblowers, he added: “However, we cannot condone the knowing and willful disclosure of classified information to the media or others not entitled to such information. An individual in authorized possession of classified information has no authority or right to unilaterally determine that it should be made public or otherwise disclose it.”
The film recognizes the president’s good side, with a quick nod by Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight. The “good news,” she said, is passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which Obama supported, and his directive providing protection for national security whistleblowers. That mention, however, is not until 59 minutes into the 66-minute film.
Balanced? No. But the stories about the government’s aggressive moves against federal employees who worked to uphold the finest traditions of public service are chilling and deserve the notice and outrage the film hopes to generate.
Franz Gayl’s is the first case presented. The Defense Department civilian employee was punished for his efforts to save the lives of U.S. troops at war.
“Hundreds of Marines were tragically lost and probably thousands maimed unnecessarily, so I said, let’s replace the Humvees with what are called MRAPs, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles,” he says in the film.
After taking his concerns to Pentagon officials with no luck, he went to the news media. Then the blowback hit. He was stripped of his security clearance, the lifeline for national security workers, and suspended.
“They were using all these personnel actions against me,” he said. “I’m the substandard employee, bottom 3 percent, unreliable, untrustworthy, et cetera, et cetera. After investigations and after all these personnel actions and reprisals, I was placed on administrative leave.
“I was fearful. If I have to leave the government now and I don’t have security clearances, we’re gonna have to move away. I can’t get a job around here. You can’t do anything without a security clearance around [the] D.C. area. I knew that life was gonna go ‘foof,’ fall off a cliff.”
Gayl was fortunate to have whistleblower advocates who cushioned his fall. And in November 2011, after intervention by an Office of Special Counsel that was re-energized by Obama, the military’s threat to suspend Gayl indefinitely was lifted and his security clearance was reinstated.
There’s a lot left out of his story in this space, and similar stories of other whistleblowers can’t be mentioned at all. Gayl’s is a distressing tale of Uncle Sam playing the bully, making life hell for a federal employee who fought to better protect American troops.
“I’m now working back at the Pentagon in the office from which I was removed,” Gayl says at the end of the film. “I feel very lucky, because I received a lot of support from a lot of outsiders that I don’t think every person in my situation gets.”
The film makes you wonder how many more trampled, and largely unknown, federal whistleblowers like Gayl are out there.