It is no secret that our government is in real trouble. The amount of corruption apparent, even just monitoring daily news stories, has been increasing at an alarming rate. If you talk with people, and keep your ears open, you may discover you know a whistleblower, or a person who is on the verge of becoming one. It could be your friend, sister, father, husband or wife, or perhaps even you.
One person I know was actually amazed to have someone involved in his struggle to have a case he developed taken seriously, and prosecuted as it should have been, call him a Whistleblower. He hadn’t thought of himself as one. As a Federal employee, he had just been doing his job. And as one person who was involved in the investigation of his case at one of the many levels it passed through said, he has been “drug through a knothole backwards” for doing his job. Just ethically doing the job of protecting the national security interests of U.S. citizens and the U.S. Government as he was hired to do.
Five years is a long time to be fighting for justice, while all the while being attacked and experiencing retribution personally for ethically doing your job. And this individual is not alone. One investigator who has handled countless corruption cases stated that “people are afraid very, very afraid.” In spite of this, there are many people who have stood up to do what is right. They have done this in the most awkward and in some cases, intimidating of circumstances. They have been willing to risk the ruin of their career and even their own safety at times, by standing up to corrupt, greedy and sometimes just plain evil people. And for doing their jobs, for conducting thorough and honest investigations and writing the truth without spin, or refusing to cover up, or to remove incriminating information from their reports, (the very information that makes the case prosecutable), they are crucified. And when this happens to them, most whistleblowers have few places to turn. This is the case for Federal Whistleblowers and even more the case for Civilian or Military DOD Whistleblowers.
Whistleblowers experience many disconnects and difficulties when they try to report the wrongdoings they have observed. Some time ago, one such person, Gerald Eastman, a highly qualified and veteran aviation inspector for a large commercial airplane manufacturer, having observed some very slipshod and dishonest inspecting practices at a large commercial airplane manufacturing company, tried to report this to his company, at first naively believing they did not know that some of the inspectors were doing this. (Please see website called The Last Inspector (www.thelastinspector.com/id19.html.)
Mr. Eastman was led up a path of contacts with indifferent, frightened, or even hostile people all the way up the command chain of his company. It became quite clear that the company was not only aware of these practices and condoned them, but in fact, may even be directing these actions at the highest levels of the company. After being set up by his company and then fired, Mr. Eastman continued to try to seek justice not only for himself, but to assure more acceptable safety risks for the American Public. For this dedication to doing what is right, he has lost his job, and has been slandered, libeled and called a disgruntled fringe element ex-employee, discredited and humiliated.
Another person knowing of the concerns about the airplane manufacturers business practices, tried to intercede and help get DOT OIG to take action, rather than sit on the case, as other investigative entities had done. She tried to use an Office of Inspector General hotline, supposedly made available to offer good service to people with the country’s best interests at heart. She reports it was not a satisfactory experience, as it seems that the U.S. Government has now outsourced the complaint process for at least this Office of Inspector General to a non-government contractor, putting the decision about who’s complaints are forwarded to the OIG’s investigators in the hands of a non-government contractor.
This is unfortunately pretty typical of what people face, whether they are private citizens, Federal, or Corporate employees when they try to report wrongdoing or questionable activities to the prescribed government sites. Not only does there appear to be corruption within contractors (including defense contractors), but has been so much “revolving door” movement of people from government to contactor and contractor to government, the quid pro quo factor has nearly suffocated any independence and responsible and ethical behavior in some cases.
It appears we truly have a crisis in government. This is not about politics. It is about what is right, both for the United States Government and its citizens – the taxpayers. Some key questions that must be addressed are:
Will politicians (of all parties) have the resolve and courage to change how the government operates, including in some cases, how they themselves have been conducting business?
Will they confront their colleagues who are contributing to corrupt activities instead of looking the other way?
Will laws be passed to not only protect Whistleblowers from harassment and retribution, loss of jobs, attacks on their character, and devastation of their personal lives, but also laws which will help to stop wrongdoing and prosecute those committing these crimes?
Will these very negative patterns of corporate and government corrupt behaviors be stopped, or will they continue with new players, even after one group has been neutralized and discarded?
One former employee of a government agency, which had oversight of major defense contractors, stated, “The only way to get their attention and get something done is to embarrass the hell out of them.” To this observer, it appears that the average citizen must step up to the plate to provide enough pressure to those systems within the government, both legislative, judicial and executive, to eliminate the possibility of more cover-ups and a continuation of officials looking the other way, when confronted by evidence of wrongdoing.
If embarrassing them and making it increasingly difficult for them to be passive is what it takes, then that is what more of us will have to do. There is a very apparent pattern of trying to kill the messenger from those responsible for some of our worst corruption cases. Understand what sacrifices those Whistleblowers you know, and those you don’t know, are making to do what is right for all of us, and for our futures. One thing Whistleblowers need is a support group. Start one, or join one, but do what you can to help bring about justice and real resolution. Our futures depend on it.