Today I am selling my laptop if the prospective buyer actually buys.
Everything else I own is in storage and it is all for sale. I haven’t found buyers for it, and none of it has any real value.
But it’s what’s left after whistle blowing and experiencing years of retaliation.
I use it to sell in order to pay for places to stay, as I am homeless, permanently jobless and have no ability to compete for jobs playing by your rules.
To me, it has included an active threat of death, being shot at, experiencing extreme isolation, ostracism, shunning, defamation, stalking, theft, and fraud. The least of it has been promises that I will never work again.
I am only sharing this here because progressives so easily and loudly proclaim the duty of people to whistle blow. I don’t believe there is any real understanding of the dangerousness of that act, nor of the consequences which rain down on the person who does try to speak truth to power.
Whistleblowers have been likened to bees: a whistleblowing employee has only one sting to use, and using it may well lead to career suicide. In a survey of 87 American whistleblowers from both public service and private industry all but one experienced retaliation, with those employed longer experiencing more. Whistleblowers face economic and emotional deprivation, victimisation, and personal abuse and they receive little help from statutory authorities.
Better off dead is not an exaggeration of the fate of whistle blowers. There is no charity or respite for us. Most of us die early deaths, from the research that is done.
How could we not?
The typical whistleblower’s health is very poor. In a survey I did in 1993, reported in the British Medical Journal (1), 29 of the 35 subjects had an average of 3.6 symptoms at the time of the survey. Though high, this was less than the average of 5.3 at the time they blew the whistle. The most common were difficulty sleeping, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and feelings of guilt and unworthiness. They also suffered from nervous diarrhoea, trouble breathing, stomach problems, loss of appetite, loss of weight, high blood pressure, palpitations, hair loss, grinding teeth, nightmares, headaches, tiredness, weeping, tremor, urinary frequency, ‘stress’, and ‘loss of trust’. Fifteen subjects (i.e. over half of those with symptoms) were now on medication they had not been on before blowing the whistle – for depression, stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure.
The reason for this poor state of health is clear. They had suffered intense victimization at work, being made redundant, demoted, dismissed, or pressured to resign; their position was abolished, or they were transferred. While still in the workplace they were isolated, physically and personally; were given impossible tasks to perform, menial work, or no work at all; were subjected to constant scrutiny and verbal abuse, forced to see psychiatrists, threatened with defamation actions and disciplinary actions; were constantly criticised, fined, subjected to internal inquiries, adverse reports; and received death and other threats. The most common outcome was to resign because of ill health caused by the victimization. The treatment they receive appears to be standard, and is described in more detail, for example, by Bill de Maria in his large survey of Queensland whistleblowers. (2)
As a result of what happened they also suffered severe financial loss. Only eight of the 35 subjects had not suffered any loss of income; in twelve cases their income was reduced by over 75%. They faced large medical, other, and particularly legal costs, and in over half the cases their estimated total financial loss was in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Families disappear. Wherever we go, people literally turn their backs, or they attack. Friends – who are those phantoms? We are sitting ducks just because we played by the rules which are also in place to kill us and our knowledge. Trust which is stripped from us will never return. We are less than human.
The very ethical framework which caused us to speak truth to power over the recognition of authority figures to direct unethical and illegal behavior causes us to be seen as – in the terms you use frequently – nuts and wacko.
In my own case, even though I kept as much evidence as possible, no one was interested in receiving it and doing anything with it. So I acted ethically in a true vacuum. That’s the norm.
There are few, if any, parties who are interested in acting on whistle blowers’ findings because to even acknowledge what is truth is dangerous.
So I leave you with just an inkling of what happens when someone is even being encouraged to whistle blow with many more “protections” than I had (none).
And a warning: unless you are willing to stand up and with whistle blowers, you have no right to ask anyone to sacrifice his or her life for you. Because that’s exactly what it is – certain lethality.
That doesn’t mean spouting attaboys and way to go’s on blogs. That means giving them jobs, sheltering them, supporting their legal expenses, and protecting them from physical and emotional harm. It means not abandoning them after they have been used for their information and discarded not unlike rotting fruit.
There is no effective whistle-blower protection system, and there needs to be.
Those with power – sometimes that’s legal power, political power and firepower – real weaponry, and deep pockets and resources are brought to bear – to oppress by any means available – those few of us who truly stand alone. Here’s just a very tiny taste (pdf) of what whistle-blowing is like. And Waxman’s admonishments to the contrary, there are no real protections for whistle-blowers. We are on our own. We have no lobby group, no movement, no supporters. We have no one and less than nothing. Remember that the next time you cockily and breezily demand whistle-blowing.
Remember – someday, it will be you.
The Honorable Howard J. Krongard
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street
NW Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Krongard: I am writing to you about an exceptionally serious matter: reports that your senior staff has threatened officials that you could fire them if they cooperate with the Committee’s investigation into your conduct.
On September 18, 2007,I wrote to you requesting your assistance with an Oversight Committee investigation into your actions as State Department Inspector General. In that letter, I described allegations from seven officials in your office that you interfered with on-going investigations in order to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment.
I requested various documents related to the investigation, and I informed you that Committee staff would be conducting interviews of several officials in your office.
Two of the individuals who came forward were John A. DeDona, the former Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, and Ralph McNamara, the former Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. They told my staff that they had resigned after you repeatedly halted or impeded investigations undertaken by their office. The other individuals who contacted my staff asked that their identities not be revealed because they feared that you would retaliate against them.
Today, I am writing to express my grave concern with the tactics your office has reportedly used in response to my request. This week, several current employees in your office – including two who have agreed to go on the record – informed the Committee that your senior staff attempted to coerce them not to cooperate with the Committee’s inquiry and threatened their jobs and careers.
The two officials who agreed to go on the record about the threats are Special Agent Ron Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Rubendall. Both currently work in the investigations division of your office. Both are career federal investigators. Just last week, you referred to Special Agent Militana as “one of my best investigators” in a statement you released.
In addition to describing the threats he received, Special Agent Militana kept contemporaneous notes of these interchanges, which he has now shared with my staff.
Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall report that on September 25,2007, one week after I sent my letter, your congressional affairs liaison and an attomey in the Counsel’s office approached them about the Committee’s invitation to be interviewed. They were taken into the office of the Deputy Inspector General, where your congressional liaison told Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall that they wanted to discuss their upcoming interviews.
At this point, according to Special Agent Militana, your congressional liaison told them they could suffer retaliation based on their cooperation with the Committee’s investigation.
According to Special Agent Militana, she stated: The majority are not friends. The minority staff has been helpful. They advise that you should never do a voluntary interview in a million years.
When Special Agent Militana questioned her statement, the congressional liaison told him: “You have no protection against reprisal. You have no whistleblower protections. Howard could retaliate and you would have no recourse.”
The attorney informed Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall that although they might have some civil service protections against termination, he concurred with the congressional liaison. Special Agent Militana said that when he pressed the issue, the congressional liaison stated: “Howard can fire you. It would affect your ability to get another job.”
Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall stated that at the end of this session, they felt angry that such threats were being used against them. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall informed my staff that as career investigators who deal with whistleblowers, they were shocked by the brazenness of these tactics.
They ultimately concluded that this activity was inappropriate and should be reported to the Committee.
Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall are not the only current employees to raise these concerns. Other employees have also reported that the congressional liaison and the attomey told them that if they appear before the Committee, you could take unspecified legal actions against them based on their statements.
I Statementfrom Støte Deportmenl.IG, Associated Press (Sept. 18,2007).
I am appalled by these reports. As an Inspector General, you hold a position of special trust within the federal government. Your office is supposed to be an example of how to protect whistleblowers, not an example of how to persecute them. It is unclear whether you directed your senior staff to engage in these activities or whether they took matters into their own hands. In either case, the threats against Special Agent Militana, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall, and others are reprehensible.
You should be aware – and you should advise your staff – that Congress has passed civil and criminal prohibitions against threatening and tampering with witnesses, retaliating against whistleblowers, and providing false information to Congress. If Special Agent Militana’s and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall’s accounts are true, some or all of these provisions may be implicated.
The Committee will not tolerate any intimidation of potential witnesses.
I direct you to instruct your staff, including your congressional affairs liaison and attorneys, to suspend all communications (other than those necessary to collect responsive documents) with employees the Committee is planning to interview. I also wam you against any further efforts to intimidate witnesses or prevent truthful communications with Congress.
If you have any questions about this matter, you should contact me personally.
Henry A. Waxman Chairman
cc: Tom Davis Ranking Minority Member
Stt, t.g.l8 U.S.C. $ 1505 (“Whoever corruptly, or by threats of force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstruct, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law … or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress – Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years .. . or both”); 23 U.S.C. ç 2302 (“Any employee who has the authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority … take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant for employment because of a disclosure of information by an employee or applicant which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety”).