It was only four decades ago that Deep Throat helped expose Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Yes, it was an embarrassing time for the country, but the populace was appreciative of the then anonymous informant for shedding light on government corruption. Knowing the truth and fixing the problems were ultimately more important than pretending that wrongdoing was not occurring.
Now, however, there is no such affection for whistleblowers. The government and media vilify those who dare to speak the truth. Somehow, pointing out wrongdoing has become far more of a crime than the wrongdoing itself.
The demonization of whistleblowers is growing in the business world, according to The Wall Street Journal. Employees fear being labeled a snitch or ostracized by their coworkers for potentially costing the company jobs or profits should they report illicit corporate actions. While laws are supposedly in place to protect those who do step forward, too often they fall short: airline employees who brought attention to insufficient safety inspections were demoted to desk jobs. A miner who reported illegal, unsafe work conditions (which would lead to a coworker fatality the following day) is being held criminally responsible. A former Wells Fargo employee who exposed the bank’s practice of targeting minority communities with high-interest loans is now having her home fraudulently foreclosed on by the same bank in an apparent act of retaliation.
But how can we trust the government to protect against corporate assaults on whistleblowers when they perpetrate the same attacks on the truth?
“The only way we can find out what is going on is for someone to come forward and let us know,” Beth Daley, a representative of The Project on Government Oversight, told CBS News. “But when they do, the weight of the government comes down on them. The message is, ‘Don’t blow the whistle or we’ll make your life hell.’ It’s heartbreaking. There is an even greater need for whistleblowers now. But they are made into public martyrs. It’s a disgrace. Their lives get ruined.”
It should come as good news that, this month, the 2013 NDAA included new protections for those who work in defense and expose government corruption. However, according to Mother Jones, when President Obama signed the bill, he issued a signing statement noting that the whistleblower provisions “could be interpreted in a manner that would interfere with my authority to manage and direct executive branch officials” and vowed to ignore them as he sees fit. In other words, what whistleblower protections? Keep your mouth shut.
Potential whistleblowers should worry. Coming from Obama, that’s not just lip service. In its first term alone, the Obama administration has utilized the ancient “Espionage Act of 1917” to prosecute a record number of people who leaked information about federal wrongdoing to the press – more people than all previous presidential administrations combined.
For a man who has run two campaigns on a platform of transparency, why is he so desperate to keep secrets? And much like immigrant deportations, how many times do we need to learn that our “liberal” president is actually more tyrannical than George W. Bush?
Paired with the ongoing criminalization of protesting and dissent, the persecution of whistleblowers should be a major red flag. The United States government, originally created with checks and balances to protect against corruption, will no longer tolerate any questioning from its citizens. Or for its citizens to be aware of what its policies actually are, for that matter.
Without truth, there is no freedom. Only a truly corrupt government would be this concerned with vilifying and intimidating whistleblowers.
Read more: barack obama, bradley manning, corruption, Deep Throat, fraud, government, julian assange, leaks, obama, president obama, torture, wells fargo, whistle blowing, whistleblower, whistleblowers, wikileaks
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