Thirty years ago today, the space shuttle Challenger exploded less than 2 minutes after lift-off, killing all seven astronauts on board. A fe months later, two engineers talked about the disaster to National Public Radio on condition of anonymity, They revealed that they and three other engineers employed by NASA contractor Morton-Thiokol had warned that critical seals would fail in the below-freezing temperatures. NASA managers rejected their pleas for a launch delay.
The whistleblowing engineers were not initially identified. The identity of Roger Boisjoly was acknowledged after his death in 2012. Today, NPR revealed the identity of the second whistleblower, Bob Ebeling, with his permission.
For the whistleblower in search of Christmas entertainment, look no further than the 1947 film classic, “Miracle on 34th Street.” The plot is a classic whistleblowing situation: A principled employee observes unethical and possibly illegal conduct and is subjected to retaliation after he attempts to disclose the wrongdoing. The wrongdoer, a company psychologist, succeeds in having Kris (played by Edmund Gwen) sent to a psychiatric institution. The principled employee, in this case, is Kris Kringle, AKA Santa Claus, a character beloved around the world. You’re in good company, whistleblowers!
Washington, D.C. — According to a new report, workers in national security positions remain vulnerable to reprisal under current federal laws. The PEN America report, Secret Sources: Whistleblowers, National Security, and Free Expression, refutes allegations by current and former government officials that Edward Snowden had a protected alternative for making his disclosures of government surveillance programs.
A New York City police officer has settled his complaint against a hospital that held him against his will in a psychiatric ward. The officer, Adrian Schoolcraft, claimed bosses ordered him arrested on and hospitalized in retaliation for his whistleblowing disclosure of arrest quotas and manipulation of crime statistics.
Schoolcraft previously settled claims against the New York Police Department for $600.000 plus back pay and benefits from 2009 until the end of this year. Quoting “a source,” the New York Daily News reported that Schoolcraft’s total settlement with the city exceeds $1 million dollars and that “it’s highly likely he will retire from the force.
North Carolinians gave truth-tellers a good reception last week in Asheville, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Durham. John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative who exposed torture of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo prison, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at North Carolina State University and also made appearances at N.C. Central University, Guilford College, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Quaker House. (You can hear his interview at WUNC.)
A federal judge declared unconstitutional Monday an anti-whistleblower law in Idaho that criminalized audiovisual recordings of agricultural production facilities. In the decision, Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote that Idaho Code § 18-7042 “not only restricts more speech than necessary, it poses a particularly serious threat to whistleblowers’ free speech rights” under the First Amendment.
[T}he statute circumvents long-established defamation law and whistleblowing statutes by punishing employees for publishing true and accurate recordings on matters of public concern. The expansive reach of this statute is hard to reconcile with basic speech, whistleblower, and press rights.
[Cross-posted from Whistleblower Support Fund] At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations committee Thursday, whistleblowers testified on Veterans Affair’s investigation of the concerns about healthcare deficiencies at Veterans Affairs hospitals–investigations they characterized as a collective whitewash.