Sunday, June 26, 2016

Unsafe at Any Time - Nader Hosts Civic Activists

Whistleblowers "Breaking Through Power"

Irvin McCullough, June 03, 2016
Last week, Ralph Nader hosted hundreds of civic activists for his Breaking Through Powerconference. These activists celebrated the 50th anniversary of the consumer advocate’s book,Unsafe at Any Speed, by listening to panelists describe how they improve civic mobilization and democratic integrity.
The Governmental Accountability Project (GAP) emphasizes whistleblowing as a way to spur action and break through power. Fifty years ago, Ralph Nader coined the term “whistleblower” when he called for civic-minded engineers and technicians to report corruption. And they responded! With the help of those early corporate whistleblowers, consumer-friendly legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act were created and corruption was exposed. Public life improved. If private sector whistleblowers could make so much change, could the same be done in the public sector?
On May 25th, three panelists revealed that it could. Thomas Drake, Jesselyn Radack, and John Kiriakou shared their stories and discussed the difficulties they faced as whistleblowers.
They briefly outlined their stories throughout the panel: Drake blew the whistle on the National Security Agency’s ineffective Trailblazerprogram that wasted millions of American taxpayers’ dollars; Radack exposed a Federal Bureau of Investigation’s unethical interrogation of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh; Kiriakou shed light on the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program. All three served their country, all three exposed corruption, and all three suffered reprisal. Their reprisal came at the cost of baseless FBI raids, criminal investigations, an Espionage Act prosecution, and even actual prison time.
The cost of whistleblowing can be high, especially for the unconnected. Breaking through power without power is difficult. While these whistleblowers were punished, they noted “hypocrisy” in the handling of high-ranking officials’ information disclosures, and Drake claimed that “[those with power] get another set of rules.” Kiriakou concurred, citing an instance where Director Petraeus “got a pass” forallegedly revealing sensitive information to the New York Times.

Friday, June 10, 2016

All The Dark We Will Not See - Excerpt 1

That’s right. Imagine it.
Now, do some tricks, try out Your powers.
Hide in a far Nothing at the edge of light. Drift near Far Tortuga in a leaky turtle boat. Melt an icecap, craft a crop circle, have sex with a virus.
Now, go to the city of Washington and read a few minds. Pick up a copy of the Washington Post. Hang out with a drug or weapons lobbyist at a local bar. Try to reconcile the biases, irrationalities, and politics You encounter into something that makes sense for the good of all.
In other words, try to un-Babel this city...
You cannot.
It is impossible, even for You. Being all-powerful, You have “created” a place even You will never sort out.
Short of an alien invasion or flaming snakes from the sky (at least twice a week), two worlds will always prevail in Washington and trump all Godlike efforts: the World of Idols and the World of Ideals.