Whistleblowers, Moral Injury, and Endless War Was Chelsea Manning Motivated By Moral Injury?

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By Peter Van Buren

“My guilt will never go away,” former Marine Matthew Hoh explained to me. “There is a significant portion of me that doesn’t believe it should be allowed to go away, that this pain is fair.”

If America accepts the idea of fighting endless wars, it will have to accept something else as well: that the costs of war are similarly endless. I’m thinking about the trillions of dollars, the million or more “enemy” dead (a striking percentage of them civilians), the tens of thousands of American combat casualties, those 20 veteran suicides each day, and the diminished lives of those who survive all of that. There’s that pain, carried by an unknown number of women and men, that won’t disappear, ever, and that goes by the label “moral injury.”

Regulator ignored 700 Wells Fargo whistleblower complaints

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History shows that federal agencies are prone to be dismissive of whistleblower complaints. Nevertheless, it’s shocking to read that the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal banking regulator, failed to investigate 700 whistleblower complaints about fraudulent Wells Fargo practices, an internal review disclosed.

Trump creates office of whistleblower protection at Veterans Administration

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President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on April 27 establishing, within 45 days, an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, to be led by a Special Assistant to the Secretary.

The office will “work closely with relevant VA components to ensure swift and effective resolution of veterans’ complaints of wrongdoing at the VA” and to “ensure adequate investigation and correction of wrongdoing throughout the VA, and to protect employees who lawfully disclose wrongdoing from retaliation.”

 

Brave whistleblowers still face overwhelming odds

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“Alamo evening” by Steven Kennedy, Flickr CC.

In a recent article, “Democrats on Capitol Hill ask White House not to gag federal employees“, the Washington Post quotes from a Congressional letter to President Trump.

“As the new Administration seeks to better understand what problems exist in this area, this is an appropriate time to remind employees about the value of protected disclosures to Congress and inspectors general in accordance with whistleblower protection law,” their letter added.

President Obama reduces Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence

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We Support Whistleblowers / Free Bradley Manning / Twin Cities Pride Parade

The White House announced Tuesday that President Obama has commuted whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence, allowing her to be released from Fort Leavenworth on May 17, 2017.  Manning’s sentence, wrote the New York Times, was “the longest ever handed down in a case involving a leak of United States government information for the purpose of having the information reported to the public.”

Intelligence officials leak surprise decision in whistleblower case

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justice

The Project on Government Oversight reports that a three-person panel authorized by Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive 19 concluded last May that the National Security Agency’s inspector general retaliated against a whistleblower. Based on that information, Director Michael Rogers sent IG George Ellard a termination notice.  The IG, who is on administrative leave while he appeals the decision, said in 2014, “Snowden could have come to me. We have surprising success in resolving the complaints that are brought to us.”

Our Hero in Flint

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Story by Tom Nugent and Laura Silverman

Published in the September 2016 issue of At Buffalo (SUNY at Buffalo). Re-published with permission

When civil engineer Marc Edwards (BS ’86) warned Michigan state officials and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that lead-contaminated drinking water was poisoning the children of Flint, he expected them to declare an emergency. Instead, the regulators insisted there was no cause for alarm. That’s when Edwards, now frequently described as “The Hero of Flint,” realized he would have to take matters into his own hands.

Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” a bridge for the national divide

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With the political campaign season over, now is a good time to see (or see again) “Snowden,” Oliver Stone’s powerful film about a whistleblower disclosure that rocked the world.  Information provided in the film is essential to understanding issues likely to be debated in the next Congress and administration.