Thursday 18th of April 2024

blowing a whistle while chasing the criminals.....

The term whistleblower is thought to originate from Victorian England, where, when a crime was committed, the policemen would blow a whistle while chasing the criminals to alert the public of the crime. Today, much like those historic figures, modern whistleblowers who spot misconduct “blow the whistle” and alert the public of the threat. The whistleblower acts as an early warning signal and defense mechanism of the common good.[1]

 

BY Ashley Gjovik

 

The term “whistleblowing” can be used very broadly to refer to an act of dissent, or it can be defined in a precise way, such as defined by statute. Whistleblowing generally seeks to reveal abuse and malfeasance, and to promote accountability. Publicly known whistleblowing cases often concern issues of societal importance, like human rights violations, environmental damage, health and safety dangers, miscarriages of justice, and systemic corruption.[2]

Despite the importance of their actions, named whistleblowers are often subjected to oppressive and stigmatized labels—like “snitch” or “leaker.” Those discussing whistleblowers often treat them as some sort of sympathetic antagonist, the person is publicized instead of the disclosures, and coverage is constrained to interpreting actions only through formal laws and norms with a deference to industry.

Perhaps due to the potential disruption whistleblower disclosures can cause to established systems, there is a positivist urge to quantify and label whistleblowers. There have been extensive—and generally fruitless—studies searching for a special recipe of human characteristics that lead one to become a whistleblower. This is misguided and distracts from whistleblowing as a moral challenge anyone may have to face. Studies are predictably conflicted as to the whistleblower’s most common gender, nationality, race, ethics, or age.

There does seem to be positive association with education, honesty, strength of spiritual faith, and morality—only subjective characteristics. Studies have shown nearly half of all workers never raise any concerns at all. Other workers may raise concerns and the employer will actually quickly address the issue, or conversely the employee may give up after the first failed attempt. It’s clear the distinguishing factors that sets whistleblowers apart from other employees are the very acts of speaking out and escalating when the first attempt fails.[3]

The attempted classification of scientific categories to predict whistleblowing have been debunked and cautioned for decades—yet it persists. Ignoring the issues that cause the person to come forward in the first place, many studies still focus on an endless search for data points to classify whistleblowers based on immutable and subjective categories.

At best, this is perhaps researchers attempting to flag categories to screen potential risks to power structures but, at worst, this is a disturbing quest to declare formal biological and social determinants of moral behavior. In modern history, “scientific studies” attempting to formally determine if people with certain immutable characteristics are superior or deficient related to basic human behaviors and activities has often ended in tribunals.[4]

There is also a flawed tendency toward a Foucauldian view of whistleblowers, celebrating the idea of “fearless speech” and viewing the whistleblower as a political actor who performs an act of resistance by speaking truth to power. This view is nascent—and only relevant at the earliest stages of whistleblowing or for those who blow the whistle after they are well out of harm’s way—while ignoring the predictable and devastating aftermath for those who blow the whistle while still employed.[5]

Far from some sort of fearless rebel, whistleblowers are often professional idealists and loyal organization adherents who were not aware of the dangers and consequences of disclosure. Instead, whistleblowers often earnestly trust their organization and believe it will take actions to address the issues raised. Similarly, military and intelligence whistleblowers are often conservative and patriotic.

Many whistleblowers speak up because they believe in formal procedures and justice, never expecting an antagonistic response. Many whistleblowers also expect that taking the matter to a regulatory body will finally deliver law and order to the situation, but instead are often met with even more threats and retaliation, now by the government agencies supposedly chartered to protect them.[6]

 

Having a Reason to Blow a Whistle

Deconstructing the process of blowing the whistle, there are two significant moral queries. The first is: When is it justified to blow the whistle at all? The second is: When is it justifiable to not blow the whistle? 

Justification for blowing the whistle requires: an organization, policy or product that poses a serious and considerable harm to the public; the employee reported the threat to their supervisor (if feasible); and, if not addressed, the employee escalated further to the extent they exhausted all possibilities for resolution internally. If these requirements are satisfied, it becomes morally permissible to blow the whistle, though the person is not morally required to blow the whistle.[7]

An employee becomes morally obligated to blow the whistle if the employee has accessible, documented evidence that would convince a reasonable and impartial observer that the whistleblower’s view of the situation is correct; and the employee has good reason to believe that, by going public, the necessary changes will be brought about and harm will be prevented.[8] Because managers are almost certain to deny wrong-doing, a whistleblower needs ironclad evidence in-hand, and a whistleblower who can obtain this is in a rare and impactful position. When all five conditions are met, whistleblowing is a form of “minimally decent Samaritanism.” Indeed, many whistleblowers have described themselves as involuntarily compelled to blow the whistle and “having no other choice.” This is often in direct contradiction to the way society wants to view whistleblowers.[9]

For those in situations where whistleblowing would be justified but not morally required, there is a moral and personal reckoning process. Functional considerations may be at play such as social policy, individual prudence, legal protections, socioeconomic status, expectation of loyalty to the organization, or organizational and professional norms. Regret functions to connect seriousness to intention, while fear of retaliation may trigger moral disengagement (i.e., dehumanizing victims) to reduce cognitive dissonance and throttle moral emotions.[10] In general, workers are most likely to blow the whistle on severe issues and intentional misconduct. In two-thirds of cases the whistleblower went to a regulator because their complaint was ignored by the company and, in ten percent of the cases, the whistleblower came forward because of a cover-up.

Whistleblowing is a dynamic process that takes time to unfold. Most people do nothing until they are convinced the wrongdoing is alarming: morally offensive and with considerable threat of harm. Most people have no idea what they are about to face, and may not have the information required to properly reckon with the decision to be made. Many disclosures are made in quiet good faith and the person would never think of themselves as a “whistleblower,” and thus also does not gather sufficient evidence that could withstand an imminent cover-up, nor would they have the perspective to actively identify, document, and navigate the reprisals about to unfold.[11]

Effective whistleblowing is “the extent to which the questionable or wrongful practice (or omission) is terminated at least partly because of whistleblowing and within a reasonable time frame.” This may be displayed in the organization launching an investigation into the whistleblower’s allegations (on their own initiative or required by a government agency), and/or if the organization takes steps to change policies, procedures, or eliminate wrongdoing. Few may be able to achieve these outcomes and those who do may still question if it was worth the sacrifice.[12]

 Predictable Violence

Despite the appearance of whistleblower laws and protections in the United States, the inefficacy of these protections is demonstrated by the institutional violence used to silence, discredit and, ultimately forcibly remove the whistleblower from the workplace. Whistleblower retaliation is a severe form of violence and whistleblowers who disclose while still employed seldom anticipate the often-catastrophic consequences of their actions.[13]

On the other side, faced with a blown whistle, institutions instinctively react to minimize their culpability and damage. The standard management tactic is instigating mobbing by co-workers to then build a vague complaint against the whistleblower, which is then investigated and documented to impugn the whistleblower’s credibility and assassinate their character, and the whistleblower is then also formally isolated to “protect” the new farcical investigation.[14]

Ultimately, about 70% of whistleblowers will find themselves swiftly fired or forced to resign—usually the whistleblowers who took their concerns outside the company.[15]

Retaliation against whistleblowers is common and severe. Those who report externally and trigger adverse publicity can expect to meet “comprehensive forms of retaliation.” Those who blow the whistle on serious wrongdoing are expected to suffer “significant damage.” Whistleblowers often face retaliation to the extent it disrupts their core sense of self. The impact of whistleblower retaliation cannot be overstated.[16]

 

Disabling PTSD-like symptoms first start with self-doubt and then escalate in a spiral to a loss of sense of coherence, dignity and self-worth. This anxiety is felt for years. Compared to the general population, whistleblowers have much more severe depression, anxiety, distrust and sleeping problems. Some 88% of whistleblowers report intrusive thoughts and nightmares, 89% report feeling humiliated about the situation, and 87% report belief there was a hostile mob organized against them. The psychological impact has been compared to the grief associated with the death of a loved one, or a person’s mental state two to three weeks after experiencing a major natural disaster.[17]

In addition to counter-accusations and job loss, retaliation may include: demotion, harassment, decreased quality of working conditions, threats, reassignment to degrading work, character assassination, reprimands, denigration, punitive transfers, increase in workload, smear campaigns, surveillance, rumors, deny listing from their field of work, denial of promotions, overly critical performance reviews, double-binding, the “cold shoulder,” referral to psychiatrists, manufacturing personal and/or professional problems, exclusion from meetings, insults, retaliatory lawsuits, stalking, ostracism, petty harassment, abuse, bullying, doxing, vandalism and destruction of personal property, police reports and arrests, and even harm to the whistleblower’s own body through physical attacks and sexual assaults, to the extent of assassination.[18]

There are several known, confirmed whistleblower assassinations in just the last few years, including:

  • Eliud Montoya blew the whistle on a labor-trafficking scheme at his company, where undocumented workers were hired and their pay was skimmed—with the perpetrators stealing more than $3.5 million. In 2017, Montoya reported the scheme to his company management (a subsidiary of Davey Tree Expert Company), then four months later also reported the situation to the U.S. EEOC. Two days after Montoya took the complaint to federal regulators, three men at the company assassinated Montoya, shooting him to death.[19]
  • Another assassinated whistleblower was Babita Deokaran, the chief director of financial accounting at a Department of Health agency in South Africa. She blew the whistle on suspected corruption at Tembisa Hospital, flagging nearly £43m of possibly fraudulent transactions. The corruption is now suspected to also be connected to an organized crime ring. In 2021, Deokaran was shot dead outside of her home in a “hit-style” killing. Days before the murder she had warned her supervisors “our lives could be in danger.”[20]
  • In New York, Allyzibeth Lamont discovered her boss was paying employees under the table (not deducting payroll taxes). She reported the issue to the New York Department of Labor and planned to take the issue public. The employer testified he was nervous the labor complaint would now “get in the way” of his plans to open a new location, so he hired someone to assist him in assassinating Lamont. In 2019, Lamont was suffocated with a plastic bag over her head, then beaten to death with a baseball bat and sledgehammer, and her body dumped in a shallow grave next to a highway. The New York Labor Commissioner said Lamont’s killing was “the most heinous act of retaliation against a worker that the New York State Department of Labor has ever seen.”[21]
  • Frank Olson was an executive in the CIA’s Special Operations Division and MK-ULTRA program. Olson was involved in a number of ghastly secret chemical and biological warfare experiments and operations. Olson expressed shame about his involvement and compared some of the U.S.’s activities to “what had been done to people in concentration camps.” He told his wife he was deeply bothered about the germ warfare experiments in Korea, that he had “made a terrible mistake,” and contemplated quitting. There were also suspicions Olson planned to blow the whistle on the CIA’s connection to a mass poisoning event in Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951. Shortly after failing a CIA interrogation in 1953, and a finding that he breached security protocols, Olson then “fell out of a window.” The witness, another CIA executive, could not provide a coherent explanation of events leading up to the fall yet, right after the “fall,” he made a phone call to an unidentified source saying “he’s gone,” to which the person replied “that’s too bad” and hung up. An autopsy found a blow to Olson’s head from the butt of a gun. The night before his death, Olson told his wife someone was trying to poison him and he feared for his safety.[22]
  • Karen Silkwood was a lab technician at a Kerr-McGee plutonium plant. In 1974, she reported to her labor union and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission that the plant had quality-control failures and lax safety procedures that put employees at risk of radioactive contamination. The union encouraged her to gather internal documents to corroborate her allegations. Less than two months later, she was contaminated with plutonium at work three days in a row, and then also found plutonium contamination in her home—all of which she alleged was intimidation by Kerr-McGee. Silkwood persisted, obtained corroborating evidence, including documents exposing that a significant amount of plutonium was missing from the factory, and got in her car to drive to meet with a New York Times reporter to share the documents. Silkwood was found dead in a car crash. The documents Silkwood obtained to expose Kerr-McGee went missing. It was later revealed Silkwood likely unwittingly collected documents that also exposed a nuclear smuggling ring.[23]

Cliff Baxter was a vice chairman at Enron and had raised a number of concerns internally about Enron’s dubious off-the-books transactions with private partnerships. Fellow Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins noted Baxter’s dissent in her now famous memorandum to CEO Kenneth Lay. In 2002, two weeks after Baxter was first publicly named as an Enron whistleblower in Watkins’s memo, Baxter was found shot dead in his car with “rat-shot” (an unusual type of ammunition not easily traced back to the gun from which it was fired). Baxter had unexplained wounds on his hand and shards of glass on his shirt. A few days before his death, Baxter had commented about needing a bodyguard. At that time, Enron was engaged in the now notorious, extensive and obstructive shredding of incriminating documents and deletion of computer files.[2

 

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Ashley Gjovik is a lawyer, activist, author, and whistleblower. She blew the whistle on Apple in 2021.

Ashley specializes in human rights & the common good. She has a Bachelor of Science, Juris Doctor, and a Certificate in Public International Law with honors.

Ashley can be reached at ashleymgjovik@protonmail.com.

 

READ MORE

https://covertactionmagazine.com/2023/04/25/whistleblowers-are-the-conscience-of-society-yet-suffer-gravely-for-trying-to-hold-the-rich-and-powerful-accountable-for-their-sins/

 

 

 

 

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fighting the CIC....

By Matt Taibbi / Racket News

Today you’ll find two new #TwitterFiles threads out, one by longtime Racket contributor Matt Orfalea, and another by Andrew Lowenthal, who worked for 18 years defending digital rights at EngageMedia and watched activists in his space slowly be absorbed by what we’re now calling “The Censorship-Industrial Complex.”

The two new threads collectively show the wide political range of revelations in the #TwitterFiles material, which have been slandered — absurdly — as a partisan exercise. Lowenthal, who in his “Insider’s Guide to ‘Anti-Disinformation’” describes himself as a “progressive-minded Australian,” printed a series of exchanges between journalists who attended a summer “tabletop exercise” at the Aspen Institute about a hack-and-leak operation involving Burisma and Hunter Biden, weeks before the actual event. When the actual scandal broke not long after, the existence of that tabletop exercise clearly become newsworthy, but none of the journalists present, who included David Sanger of the New York Times and current Rolling Stone editor Noah Schactman — said a word. Perhaps, as was common with anti-disinfo conferences, the event was off the record. (We asked, and none of the reporters commented). It doesn’t matter. Lowenthal showed how another “anti-disinformation” conference featured the headline speaker Anthony Blinken. He’s currently suspected of having “triggered” the infamous letter signed by 50 intelligence officers saying the Hunter Biden laptop story had the “classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

As Lowenthal writes: “See how it works? The people accusing others of “disinformation” run the biggest disinformation campaigns themselves.”

On the flip side, Orfalea found a document showing that both the Wikileaks account and that of Dr. Jill Stein were algorithmically added by Twitter to a list given the creepy name is_russian. This was one of two buckets of “Russians” Twitter was collecting, one called “A Priori Russians” (usually, accounts identified as Russian by 3rd party researchers), the other “Inferred Russians” (accounts that had “strong,” “medium,” or “weak” “signals” of Russianness, involving language, type of email account, location of IP address, tweet time, etc). Even Twitter’s own analysts noted that any system that “captured” Jill Stein as “Russian” spoke to the “overly broad nature of is_russian.” It was just such a “signals” or “marker”-based methodology that Twitter and other researchers used to identify “Russians” on the Internet, a methodology Twitter internally called one of “educated guesses,” concealing a company secret about identifying accounts linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency: “We have no realistic way of knowing this on a Twitter-centric basis.”

As Stein noted when I spoke to her yesterday, these unseen algorithmic tweaks to the political landscape have the effect of decreasing the visibility of political independents during a time of “record hunger for political alternatives.” Stein noted a Gallup poll just showed “identification with the Democratic and Republican parties is at an all-time low,” and said such digital meddling is “an outrageous excuse for political repression,” and “more that Joe McCarthy would be proud of.”

When Stella Assange was told about the is_russian list, she first speculated that any algorithm that demerited users based on location might produce false positives if account holders used, say, the Tor Browser, which could “randomly result in an RU exit node.” Since “Tor is an essential tool for civil liberties and privacy communities,” you could have people being tossed in a “Russian” bucket for the crime of trying to evade surveillance.

In another part of his thread, Orfalea notes that a Clemson University researcher hailed as a “troll hunter” in the press and used as a source by major media outlets, speculated that an account called @drkwarlord that was sharing a hashtag, #BloombergisRacist because the account was tweeting at odd hours:

That’s the “expert” opinion. Orfalea just called @drkwarlord, who laughed, “I’m a nurse at a hospital in Indiana. In 2020, I worked the night shift.”

Whether it’s suppression of a news story conservatives care about like the Hunter Biden laptop tale, or deamplification of a left-leaning Green Party candidate like Jill Stein, the #TwitterFiles consistently hit at the same theme, but it’s not partisan. It’s really summed up by something Stella Assange said, about the difference between Wikileaks and the “anti-disinformation” facsimile, Bellingcat. “Wikileaks coined ‘intelligence agency of the people.’ Bellingcat went with ‘for the people.’”

Civil society institutions, the media, politicians, and government are supposed to maintain distance from one another in democracy. The Censorship-Industrial Complex shows an opposite instinct, for all of these groups to act in concert, essentially as one giant, incestuous intelligence operation — not of the people, but paternalistically “for” the people, or so they believe. Journalists attend conferences where news happens and do not report it, breaking ranks neither with conference organizers, nor with each other. The Trump era has birthed a new brand of paranoid politics, where once-liberalizing institutions like the press and NGOs are encouraged to absorb into a larger whole, creating a single political cartel to protect against the “contagion” of mass movements. As Lowenthal notes, this explains why so many “anti-disinformation” campaigns describe language as a kind of disease, e.g. “infodemic,” “information pollution,” and “information disorder.”

Surrounded by the “disease” of dangerous political ideas, checks and balances are being discarded in favor of a new belief in banding together. The Guardian’s Luke Harding laid out this idea a few years ago, in a gushing review of a book about Bellingcat by its founder, British journalist Eliot Higgins:

Higgins thinks traditional news outlets need to establish their own open source investigation teams or miss out. He’s right. Several have done so. The New York Times has recruited ex-Bellingcat staff. Higgins approves of this. In his view, rivalry between media titles is a thing of the past. The future is collaboration, the hunt for evidence a shared endeavour, the truth out there if we wish to discover it.

Harding makes this sound cheery, but the rivalry of media titles is the primary (if not only) regulatory mechanism for keeping the press honest. If the Times, Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC no longer go after each other for uncorrected errors — like the Hamilton 68 fiasco exposed in the #TwitterFiles, or Harding’s own infamous report that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort managed to have a secret meeting in London’s Ecuadorian embassy with the world’s most-watched human, Assange — they can and will indulge in collective delusions. A “shared endeavour” vision of politics is just a synonym for belief in elite concentration of power.

As noted in Lowenthal’s thread, the story of the #TwitterFiles and the Censorship-Industrial Complex is “really the story of the collapse of public trust in experts and institutions, and how those experts struck back, by trying to pool their remaining influence into a political monopoly.” The losers in any advancement of this story would include anyone outside the monopoly, and they can be on either the right or the left. The intense negative reaction by traditional press to the #TwitterFiles stories published to date is rooted in a feeling of betrayal. The new media leaders see themselves as doing the same service police officers in the stop-and-frisk era called “order maintenance,” pouncing on visible signs of discord or disruption. They’re gatekeepers, and the #TwitterFiles — classic old-timey journalism that assumes the public has a right to know things — represents an unacceptable breach of the perimeter.

Orfalea is also releasing today a video he compiled for the “Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex.” Titled “Eleven Minutes of Media Falsehoods, Just On One Subject, Just On One Channel,” it’s what’s left of a more ambitious plan the Racket team tried to put together as part of this wider series, whose first pieces are coming out today. Andrew and Matt’s material is coming out first, but in the next weeks you’ll be reading from a series of contributors in this “Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex,” each looking at this subject from different angles.

The project started with a question: who’s on this list?

 

 

READ MORE:

https://scheerpost.com/2023/04/26/matt-taibbi-report-on-the-censorship-industrial-complex/

 

 

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WaPo and NYT lies....

NY Times & WashPo Editors CONFRONTED Over Ukraine War Lies!

 

Antiwar activist Jose Vega is well on his way to becoming a legendary disruptor of the war machine. His latest target: an event at Columbia Journalism School featuring some of the news media’s top editors talking about anything BUT the Nord Stream pipeline bombing and the ongoing perilous dance with World War III. Guest host Aaron Maté and Americans’ Comedian Kurt Metzger talk to special guest Jimmy Dore about the sad state of journalism in America and why disruptors like Vega are so important to holding the powerful accountable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Upux1XBCbg

I HOPE WE WILL SEE THIS CLIP OF JOSE VEGA ON MEDIA WATCH.... BUT...

 

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SEE ALSO:

playing pretend....

 


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free speech event.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kcv2wy9zUM

 

Jose Vega stood up and asked editors at the NYTimes, Washington Post, and others why are they shilling for the deep state military industrial complex. Before being wrestled to the ground Vega asked why these "papers of record" ignored the biggest story of the last 100 years, the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline by President Biden. Redacted Correspondent Dan Cohen joins us to look deeper into the cozy relationship between the corporate media and the federal government.

 

 

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