Interesting Timing: Senate Passes Federal Whistleblower Protection Bill

from the as-we-torture-one... dept

We were just highlighting how the government is terrible at protecting whistleblowers — with particular attention to the horrific treatment of Bradley Manning. As all of this is going on, it’s worth pointing out that the Senate (apparently without much sense of irony) has passed a “Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act,” which would seek to grant greater protections to government employees who blow the whistle on government wrongdoing. Of course, some have concerns with the new bill, in that it specifically weakens some protections for “the intelligence community,” while increasing protections for other government employees.

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Comments on “Interesting Timing: Senate Passes Federal Whistleblower Protection Bill”

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Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Its called a ‘backdoor’ draft.

Small point of contention: The “backdoor draft” is what the military calls “stop-loss.” It’s when you’ve finished active duty, but they involuntarily re-up you to go fight another tour in whatever Middle Eastern country we’ve invaded this time.

The “economic draft” argument is different… though I’m betting with the economy, we’ll be hearing more about it pretty soon.

IronM@sk (profile) says:

Whistleblowing vs. Treason

I had an interesting comment thread going between a few friends of mine on facebook after I shared the last Manning article, that because Manning was still under military command, that he was exampt from the civilian form of due process, and was still subject to military justice.

I am not condoning his alledged treatment at all, but things tend to take on a different light when you realise this is not a private citizen, but a member of the armed forces who has “signed away” certain rights to be in that position.

I don’t mean to play Devil’s Advocate here, but my facebook friends, some who have served for the US, have family who served, and some others who are more articulate in their expression, point out that “whistleblowing” really has no meaning when it comes to military justice.

I don’t know enough to really take a side here, but one thing I can say, is that there needs to be some expediancy due with the Manning case, for the longer it drags on, the worse it looks for the US, just like in the David Hicks/Guantanomo Bay saga.

Andrew says:

Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason


Please learn about the US military before commenting on it. The US does NOT have the draft and has not had it since the Vietnam War. Regardless of how you feel, or want to believe, when you enter the military you do so of your own volition, and part of that is the recognition that certain freedoms and rights do not apply to you. A functioning military needs this.

As regards Manning, however, I support what he did completely. From what it sounds like, members of his own command screwed with him, and sometimes when you screw with some people, they get theirs back. I’d be investigating his chain of command to see what they did to pressure Manning into releasing these documents in the first place.

penser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason


Your last comments seem to imply that Bradley Manning has no sense of moral or ethical decency…that his actions in leaking the information was a vengeful act. Is it possible that Bradley simply came to grips with an ethical dilemma??? Is it possible that he KNEW (as I know, being an active service member myself) that if he took his concerns of war crimes to his chain of command, the case would be killed? Is it possible that Bradley is a better person than you OR me, combined? I think so.

Bradley Manning, in his own words, saw through the system. He saw his nation, prostrate to the disinformation of a deceptive government and its puppet media, and he did chose to do the right thing. Give the people the facts. Pure, undiluted, un-spun FACTS.

Haris says:

Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

Well, this statement would be true, if the US drafted him. However todays ARMY is a 100% volunteer army, and it is not mandatory to serve. There hasnt been a Draft since Vietnam if im not mistaken.

First you volunteer to join, second is you dont have to deploy if you dont want however there is consequences if you go AWOL.

When you sign on the dotted line nobody is threatning you with jail time or has a gun to your head.

bob says:

Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

I am so glad I do not live in your upside down parallel universe.
The year after I drew the lottery number of 23 for the draft, the draft was ended in the United States.
So there was no “Force” nor was he drafted, He was a volunteer. In fact the last call for a draft was in Nov. of 06 by a Congressman who was recently “Censured” in the Well of Congress.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

I disagree. The current legal model for whistleblowing may not include protections for military personnel, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not a whistleblower.

Remember, whistleblowing is a time-honored tradition that has not always included legal protections. In fact, many whistleblowers, including Daniel Ellsburg, weren’t acting legally when they became whistleblowers, either, but were later exonerated by the courts.

Ironically, the Pentagon Papers are still classified.

Andrew says:

Re: juilian assange

No, Jane, I doubt they’ll lock you up. I bet if you learn how to read and write, they might do, but I think you’re safe because your comment really doesn’t make a bit of sense at all.

There’s a concept called “proofreading”. It takes 30 seconds. Can I invite you to do this next time you feel the need to post what is the equivalent of a jack-ass heehawing?

Hilary (profile) says:

Whistleblowing vs. Treason

I had a USA Navy person stay at my home under the billeting program, they were on a WESPAC. He told me that six month prior he had be caught driving a copious amount of dope across the Mexican boarder. His brother was the dealer, but he was getting to much attention at the boarder (prolly paranoid)so sent him instead.
When he went before the Judge after after he was busted with his brothers dope, the Judge gave him a ultimatum, 5 years prison OR 2 years military.
He chose the later, obviously, he couldn’t believe that 6 months in he was sitting on a beach having a ‘cold one’ with me and my family.
It was a successful program for him I guess, I did wonder however, how many it’s NOT a successful program for and how many members of the US military are actually ex criminals.

penser (profile) says:

Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

I have personally met two men in the 8+ years I’ve served, who were given similar ultimatums by a judge. Army or jail. I had thought that practice had been ruled illegal…? Apparently not. Those two are the only ones who ever admitted it openly…how many kept the facts hidden? Who knows…

penser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Penser

I don’t know…but as I said, I thought that judges were not allowed to make such ultimatums. (In fact, I still wonder HOW it can possibly be allowed BY LAW!)

At any rate, both of these individuals’ character was already questionable (in MY eyes, at least) even before I learned of their ultimatum situation; I thought even less of them once I knew.

penser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

And we can’t forget about the obvious war criminals; how many of THEM do you think actually get any punishment whatsoever…let alone making headlines in public view? Sure, a couple here and there…thanks to whistleblowers. But I have suspicions those few are not even scratching the surface of the problem.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Whistleblowing vs. Treason

I don’t hold to your argument Hilary… Considering that the whole point of Boot Camp is (as my brother described it to me) is to break down one’s individuality and rebuild you as a soldier and part of a team/family. With that kind of change, I’m going to say that most ‘scofflaw’ criminals (those that do it because of a lack of respect for the law, as opposed to a psychological condition) will shed that attitude in exchange for the discipline and respect for command. Yes, I know that a lot of soldiers will roll their eyes at a CO’s back, etc… but the discipline and the willingness to respect those who?ve earned it is there.

From the change I saw in my brother, going from a pussy-whipped whiner to a very respectable man who has his shit together more than I do, I say that one’s past doesn’t matter that much in who they are after joining service.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is very unlikely that Manning would qualify as a whistleblower, if only because of the sheer volume of stuff he produced that was not relevant to the situation.

Also, I would have to say that Manning wasn’t whistleblowing on any one person or situation, but rather attempting to damn the entire system. Whistleblowing is more like “so and so is stealing from the company” and not “this embassy person said something naughty about someone”.

Anonymous Coward says:

See both sides

For getting the truth out about the helicopter attack that killed the journalists, I personally think Manning is a hero. That was whistleblowing.

When it comes to the cables, it gets murkier.

There may be things in those cables that need the whistle blowing. But releasing them en masse means you cannot have checked them and some will simply have a destructive effect when aired without actually exposing any wrongdoing.

Of course, Bradley Manning (if ’twas he, and he’s innocent until proven guilty) probably doesn’t have the resources to check through 250k cables, so he’d delegate looking through them to Wikileaks. I wonder what unwritten “contract” he had with Wikileaks exactly ?

Therefore I expect Wikileaks to honour his sacrifice by spending the time to just release stuff that needs the whistle blowing, and not do anything that is just blatantly destructive.

That assumes that whistleblowing is the objective.
If “destroying the secrecy of government” is actually the aim, that is a wider goal and one for which you could argue any secret doc can be released.
You might believe in this cause and think Julian Assange is a hero for it, but you’d probably be forced to admit he’d breached the law in pursuit of such a goal, however well intentioned the goal. There’s no law protecting people who simply aim to reveal secrets for the hell of it !

I think that even if the whistleblowing laws did extend to Bradley Manning, it would be easy to argue that (for example) exposing secret embassy messages reporting the views of the Saudi leader are NOT whistleblowing per se. They don’t seek to expose hidden wrongdoing.

So there’d still be a ton of stuff they could string Manning up for.

I think the way the US has handled it has been counter productive. The most futile game of whack-a-mole ever.

I wonder if Wikileaks are actively toning down the embarrassment for countries that have so far given tacit support for Assange’s rights ?

penser (profile) says:

Re: See both sides

If the release of the information is destructive, then is it not whistleblowing-worthy?

Further, I don’t consider anything released to be “just for the hell of it”–rather, the intent is that the U.S. be given appropriate insight into the games its elected officials are playing, and therefore demand accountability, and theoretically vote better choices into those positions that have been abused.

swish (user link) says:


Being a whistleblower of sensitive info is what makes the blower a policeman against corruption calling for assistance to clean up the mess or a traitor giving away state secrets. There’s a lot of corruption around the world and based on the documents manning released, “we the people” need to be more vigilant and active in our own government. Damn the rich.


Ivan Dumais says:

As a Canadian, I can’t beleive you would do this to your own citizens under the guise of security. Your government has been lying to you for a long time all under pressure of your military industrial complex. They’re are running your country and economy into the ground and like sheep you stand and watch. where are the demonstrations? at least your veterans are protesting against the wars and see whats happening. You want to see injustice ask your returning vets and what kind of support are they receiving for helping to protect democracy, when you don’t even have it in your own country.

dawt says:

Under a true rule of law, legality and legitimacy are the same. So I don’t think it matters whether what he did was legal or not. The question is: Was it legitimate or not? And uncovering lies, murders and all kinds of other bad stuff _cannot_ be illegitimate.

So a true court of law in a truly free country would have to exonerate him from any wrongdoing.

avenger says:

leaving nothing on hard drive to implicate you in these tough times

for those that fear a hard drive with incriminating evidence because of a security leak use puppy linux. It lets you run the computer in Ram alone, it starts by loading the operating system in Ram and all is run in ram only. No need to mount the hard drive. If you need to save something you can save it to a thumb drive. When you shut it down all information is lost. Nothing on hard drive nothing to implicate yourself, that with a proxy setting for your network access leaves no trace of you on the computer. Newest distro is puppy 5.1.1. Available at http://www.distrowatch .com. Burn it to a disk, set your computer to start from cdrom and away you go.Completely free and easier than windows. If you wish to save the operating system it will save the info on a file on your hard drive , if not when its starts type in puppy pfix=ram it will ask info about resolution, language,time zone it recognizes your network card when you use the network daemon after start up. It recognizes your video card and tells you what will work. Why leave something that could get you in trouble on your hard drive. Its free, its efficient. I can run it on a 300mhz computer or a 2.6ghz computer which is what I use. Helpful hints for the new world we live in. Pass it around the os is only 120 mb, very small very quick. NSA uses a version of Linux. Not this one though.. All info you need is on the disk, if you can run windows you can run puppy linux. I have used for 5 years

Hilary (profile) says:


Prior to the release of these documents anyone questioning the goings on behind closed doors, would of be considered paranoid
or a conspiracy theorist.
Hillary Clinton, not only admits to the content of the documents, by saying, confidential and private conversations, but goes on to say that the policies from these observations are made in Washington.
Or am I reading too much between the lines. I don’t know you decide.

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