[Updated 8/18] The August 16 edition of the Colbert Report covered President Obama’s recent communications about NSA surveillance programs. Appearing August 6 on Jay Leno’s late-night television program, the President told viewers, “There is no spying on Americans. We don’t have a domestic spying program.” Stephen Colbert adds:
Now the rest of the story is that the president gave us more details about the program that we don’t have at a secret press conference–secret in that it was held at 3 pm on a Friday in August. By then Wolf Blitzer is already three margaritas deep in the situation hammock.
The public image of a whistleblower is of an employee who witnesses wrongdoing and takes the information public. Subsequently, the world comes crashing down on them as their employer retaliates. But, that’s not always how it plays out. Some workers simply decline to break the law or do not take their concerns about wrongdoing beyond their immediate supervisors. They may be viewed by their employers as “whistleblowers” even though they are believe they were just doing their jobs. Occasionally, too, an employee is mistaken for a whistleblower who reported problems anonymously. Any of these “whistleblowers” may experience career-ending reprisals. Saving one’s career requires being alert to signs that one has been targeted as a whistleblower.
The New York Times reports that Charles D. Varnadore, a former nuclear laboratory technician and whistleblower, has died at the age of 71. Varnadore died on March 7, in Tennessee, but it “went unreported except for a classified advertisement in the Knoxville News Sentinel, and the ad made no mention of whistleblowing.” The lack of attention to Vanadore’s passing brings to mind the month-long delay in reporting the death of Roger Boisjoly, the whistleblowing Morton-Thiokol engineer who tried to prevent the space shuttle Challenger tragedy. Even in death, it seems, whistleblowers don’t get much respect from the establishment.
Varnadore reported health and safety problems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and appeared on a CBS evening news program about excess cancers among lab employees. His bosses then began giving him negative evaluations and assigned him useless work to perform. They isolated Varnadore from other workers, moving him to a storage room that contained drums of toxic radioactive waste.
A video broadcast by Democracy Now! argues for some house cleaning at the intelligence agencies, starting at the top. The video shows National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander denying the existence of domestic surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden, the former employee of an NSA contractor.
Former NSA employees Russell Tice and William Binney discussed NSA surveillance capabilities Thursday for the PBS News Hour. Tice described evidence that NSA targeted individuals including judges, politicians and military officers.
“Apparently this stuff was being done in the evenings because…even the people that were cleared for the program were not aware of who was plugging the information into the system.”
This week, a judge declared Army whistleblower Bradley Manning “not guilty” this week of “aiding the enemy,” the most serious charge against him. But, the judge also found Manning “guilty” of violating that Espionage Act. Comedian Stephen Colbert analyzes the verdict to determine how both conclusions could be true.
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Edward Snowden’s legal representative announced today that Russian authorities have granted the NSA whistleblower temporary asylum. Anatoly Kucherena’s announcement was confirmed by Russia’s Federal Migration service.