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War on Whistleblowers Elicits International Attention

A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.

Aesop

Daniel Ellsburg, Karen Silkwood, and W. Mark Felt are usually glorified as brave whistleblowers who risked everything for the truth. In 2002, Time Magazine’s person of the year was The Whistleblowers — Colleen Rowley, Sherron Watkins and Cynthia Cooper. The June 24, 2013 issue of Time is entitled The Informers.

The tide has turned and the government has pursued whistleblowers as criminals who are unpatriotic. Not surprisingly, whistleblowers are drawing considerable media attention across the world.

The U.S. Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

Passed in November 2012, the U.S. Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) considerably strengthens the original 1989 federal whistleblower act. The three main components of the WPEA are

  • Widening the protection for those who expose government wrongdoing. For example, government scientists who challenge censorship and those who challenge the consequences of government policy decisions are protected.
  • Greater coverage and fair judicial processes. Formerly, only the Federal Court of Appeals had jurisdiction on appellate review of cases under the original 1989 federal whistleblower act. It had a record of three to 226 against whistleblowers for decisions on the merits since October 1994. Now, other courts have jurisdiction.
  • Broader administrative authority will now be granted to government agencies such as the Office of Special Counsel and the Government Accountability Office to file briefs in support of employees filing WPEA claims.

In spite of this new law, whistleblowers have faced a strong negative response.

Whistleblowers or Informers

Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden are the new whistleblowers who are not enjoying the same support as whistleblowers have in the past. Pfc. Bradley Manning confessed to disclosing government information about the U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks and has been held in jail for three years. Aaron Swartz was an internet activist who committed suicide while the U.S. Justice Department sought him for taking data from an academic database called JStor. The newest whistleblower, Edward Snowden, released data from the National Security Agency showing that the U.S. government has been recording citizens’ emails and cell phone calls for years.

Currently, Manning is being charged with violating the Espionage Act, a law that criminalizes revealing information related to national defense. Snowden may also be charged under the Espionage Act, if the U.S. is able to extradite and arrest him.

Every day, news headlines, electronic, print or television, discuss whistleblowers. If you have information about the illegal activity of your government or employer, you should discuss it with a Texas whistleblower attorney before proceeding.

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