Defense Department Watchdog Says Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Is The Rule, Not The Exception

from the coloring-outside-the-lines-is-still-the-best-option dept

The more things change, the more whistleblowers still don’t have protections worth a shit. President Trump is waging a war on whistleblowers — about the only thing he’s doing that isn’t the polar opposite of his predecessor. For three straight presidencies, government employees seeking to report wrongdoing and misconduct have been shut down, ignored, and retaliated against, despite periodic protections being erected by legislators.

The Defense Department’s watchdog made it clear during recent testimony that things are no better at the agencies he oversees. Eric Katz of Government Executive has more details.

Officials at the Defense Department are not taking action when the inspector general validates allegations of whistleblower reprisal, Glenn Fine, who is currently performing the duties of the Pentagon’s IG, told a panel of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He called it critical that management take prompt remedial action and called on Congress to take action when the department fails to do so.

“Recently, we’ve seen a disturbing trend of the [Defense Department] disagreeing with the results of our investigation or not taking disciplinary action in whistleblower reprisal cases without adequate or persuasive explanations,” Fine said. “Failure to take action sends a message to agency managers that reprisal will be tolerated and also to potential whistleblowers [that they] will not be protected.”

Since no one really wants to protect whistleblowers, whistleblowers aren’t being protected. Fine may want to protect whistleblowers, but his hands are tied. He can accept reports and pass them on, but he can’t do anything meaningful to deter reprisal because his powers are (purposefully) limited and the protections paper-thin. He can only hope his oversight — Congress — takes this issue as seriously as he does.

But it seems unlikely Congress will help. The President himself has threatened the whistleblower who reported Trump’s inappropriate phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky. Other legislators have made similar statements, expressing their displeasure with anyone who would insinuate their president is anything but an upstanding example for all Americans.

The chilling effect of these statements and actions is real.

A recent Government Executive survey found one-in-three federal employees are now less likely to report wrongdoing to the appropriate authorities due to attacks by Trump and congressional Republicans on the whistleblower whose filing kicked off the impeachment proceedings. Another 16% said they are now more likely to blow the whistle.

More than 50 Inspector Generals signed a letter condemning the White House Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion that it’s cool and legal to unilaterally block whistleblower reports. But this — and Fine’s statements — are being lobbed into a highly-unreceptive atmosphere. This administration doesn’t want to hear the shrill, nonstop sound of dozens of blown whistles… no more than the last one did. A threatened whistleblower is a silenced whistleblower and for far too many government agencies — and the legislators that oversee them — no news is the best news. Is it any wonder so many whistleblowers opt out of this corrupted system?

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

“Dissenters will be quashed for the good of the kingdom!” — a monarch’s idea on how to deal with whistleblowers

If you needed proof that the United States has transitioned from a constitutional republic to an authoritarian state, now you have it. While I get the impulse of the government to cover up bad shit, even a elderly Republican Senator should be able to understand that a whistleblower wants to do the best thing for the country. People like Donald Trump lust for a power that would destroy the country and the principles of the Constitution. Whistleblowers are a defense against those power-hungry bastards. To attack whistleblowers is to give said bastards the power they seek. Nothing good ever comes of that.

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” — Carl Schurz, 13th United States Secretary of the Interior

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'Now now, you said it was okay when your guy was in charge...'

While I get the impulse of the government to cover up bad shit, even a elderly Republican Senator should be able to understand that a whistleblower wants to do the best thing for the country. People like Donald Trump lust for a power that would destroy the country and the principles of the Constitution. Whistleblowers are a defense against those power-hungry bastards. To attack whistleblowers is to give said bastards the power they seek. Nothing good ever comes of that.

The kicker of course is that the same people playing ‘see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil’ currently are providing all the cover needed if their political opponents pull the same stunts in the future, and while I fully expect them to suddenly hypocritically care then by then it will be rather too late.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Now now, you said it was okay when your guy was in charge..

Politics became nothing more than a team sports to them. Nothing matters as long as your team is winning. No amount of hypocrisy will stop them: what was good when they had the ball is bad when the opposite team gets it. For what it’s worth, these arguments are nothing more than tackles and interceptions they use in order to steal the ball back.

Truth is irrelevant, principles don’t exist, facts are only as good as you can convince people of them. It’s all a game to them – or some of them – even though it can start a third world war or starve disaster victims.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do you apply that same standard when the New York Times prints news from an anonymous source? of course you don’t.

If doesn’t matter if it can be proven that he is the "whistleblower", but Rand Paul pretty much came out and told the entire story. If in fact that it turns out to be him, he wouldn’t be a whistleblower because he along with others have been conspiring to drum up false allegations against this president for years now. Remember when Schiff said that he had definitive proof that Trump colluded with the Russians? Then he said the impeachment case was airtight, except that he needed to hear from Bolton to make his case. I’m sure you bought that baseless claim that Bolton said whatever in his upcoming book. Because it was what you wanted to hear.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If doesn’t matter if it can be proven that he is the "whistleblower", but Rand Paul pretty much came out and told the entire story.

What concrete, verifiable evidence did Rand Paul offer to back up his claims?

If in fact that it turns out to be him, he wouldn’t be a whistleblower because he along with others have been conspiring to drum up false allegations against this president for years now.

It ain’t false when the president, his acting chief of staff, a partial transcript of the call released by the White House, and a number of Senate Republicans admit it happened. And if the whistleblower was allegedly working to “drum up false allegations” against Trump “for years”, I would think they’d have come forth with something well before the fourth year of Trump’s rei—sorry, the last year of Trump’s first term.

he said the impeachment case was airtight, except that he needed to hear from Bolton to make his case

If I were you, I would start asking why Senate Republicans didn’t think Bolton’s testimony — which would either exonerate or further damn the president’s case — was necessary to hear when Republicans in general kept asking about direct witnesses being called to testify in the House. The whistleblower isn’t good enough. The people who were at least privvy to the goings-on weren’t good enough. Bolton was essentially “in the room”, so why is all the other testimony suddenly “good enough” for the case to be judged on its merits (read: dismissed by a rigged “jury” that never wanted to hear the case at all)?

I’m sure you bought that baseless claim that Bolton said whatever in his upcoming book. Because it was what you wanted to hear.

Yes, I’m more likely to believe what he says because he has first-hand knowledge of (at least some of) the bullshit that happened during his time in the Trump administration. But that doesn’t mean I think he’s telling the 100% gospel truth. Bolton, like any politician — and especially Republican politicians — is a grifter. He’ll say what he thinks he needs to say so he can make the most money from a gullible public (and especially Republican/conservative voters).

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What concrete, verifiable evidence did Rand Paul offer to back up his claims?

About as much as Adam Schiff did to back up his.

And if the whistleblower was allegedly working to “drum up false allegations” against Trump “for years”, I would think they’d have come forth with something well before the fourth year of Trump’s rei—sorry, the last year of Trump’s first term.

They have been–remember Russian Collusion. Is soon as that failed they needed something else. So they made this up. And while Trump was wrong to not use proper channels to ask for an investigation, he certainly was right to ask for one. The whole Biden thing smells of corruption to everyone who isn’t a partisan.

Bolton is a neocon and was hated by the left and ,many on the right. Now he is a darling of the left, and going to sell books to all of them who have an appetite for any dirt on Trump, true or not.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

About as much as Adam Schiff did to back up his.

Schiff had actual statements from Trump and Mulvaney admitting to the extortion attempt; the partial transcript from the White House that shows Trump attempting to extort Ukraine; and all the weird-ass behavior from Trump, Giuliani, and their associates (including Lev Parnas) to show how Trump attempted to abuse the power of the Oval Office for the personal gain of one Donald J. Trump. Rand Paul has…what, exactly? I didn’t see you say what he had to back up his claims.

(Reminder: A Plaintiff’s failure to cite the substance of their claims, as is required for those claims to be taken seriously, compels dismissal.)

They have been–remember Russian Collusion.

I remember that several Trump associates, including members of his own family, had meetings with Russians that they kept hiding or lying about until they couldn’t. I remember that Trump himself asked the Russians to find Hillary’s emails during his campaign. Collusion? Maybe, maybe not. Obstruction of justice, given how hard the Trump administration worked to impede the Mueller investigation? Abso-fuckin’-lutely. Innocent people don’t obstruct justice.

they made this up

How can “they” have made up something the White House itself admitted to when it released the partial transcript?

while Trump was wrong to not use proper channels to ask for an investigation, he certainly was right to ask for one.

He was right to ask for a corruption investigation from Ukraine of a private American citizen right around the time said citizen announced his 2020 presidential campaign, knowing that even the announcement of such an investigation (which is all Trump wanted if you believe all the evidence) would greatly impact the campaign of a direct political rival? Trump was right to ask for a foreign government to interfere in an American election — again — and use the power of the Oval Office for his own personal gain? If you truly believe that, I bet you’re the kind of person who would be bouncing-off-the-walls mad if a theoretical President Hillary Clinton were to have done what Donald Trump provably did.

The whole Biden thing smells of corruption to everyone who isn’t a partisan.

Who has offered any legitimate proof that any actual corruption involving the Bidens took place, and what is that proof?

Bolton is … a darling of the left

Nope, not really. I don’t think anyone but the most gullible of rubes, right or left, will have their opinions of Bolton changed only by his book. And even if his theoretical testimony was the nail in the coffin for Trump’s time in office, that won’t change who he was before then. A man who does one good deed is not instantly redeemed for the bad deeds he did before.

[he’s] going to sell books to all of them who have an appetite for any dirt on Trump, true or not

You say that like conservatives don’t buy books filled with political dirt — true or not — about Democrats/leftists/progressives. Neither “side” is free of sin in this particular capitalist hell.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Yes, Trump asked Russia to find Hillarys emails during the campaign, but Hillary was Secretary of State 4 years prior. the statement is an acknowledgement that Russia had hacked the emails long before because. How you consider that Russian Collusion, I’ll never know. And of course an innocent person who is being railroaded is not going to cooperate with a baseless investigation.

But Biden’s kid getting a $600k/yr job for doing absolutely nothing except having his father as the vice president overseeing Ukraine aid is all good with you? If mental gymnastics were an olympic event, you would be a gold medalist/.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

"Funny, only hypocrites seem to complain about whataboutism."

Nope. We’ve got one person in the oval office who consistently lies to his citizenry on a daily basis – something the republicans wanted to impeach Clinton over – and the Trump fan base stands ready to exonerate their orange, ridiculously comb-overed pussygrabber-in-chief at ANY cost, while claiming everyone else is a hypocrite.

You guys wanted Clinton impeached over one lie? OK, then burn Trump at the stake. Because if it’s just a crime when someone other than your guy does it, THAT is hypocrisy.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Trump asked Russia to find Hillarys emails during the campaign, but

“Sure, Trump openly and undeniably asked a foreign government to interfere in an American presidential election, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut…”

(You can’t really justify what Trump did unless you pull the “lesser evil” argument or…)

the statement is an acknowledgement that Russia had hacked the emails long before

“Sure, Trump openly and undeniably asked a foreign government to continue carrying out a criminal act against an American government official, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut…”

(…pull out this little gem, which really isn’t so much a justification as it is an admittance that Trump, and possibly you, didn’t care how Hillary was taken out [of the presidential race].)

an innocent person who is being railroaded is not going to cooperate with a baseless investigation

“Sure, Trump openly and undeniably did everything he could to prevent his administration from unquestionably proving his oft-professed innocence, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut…”

(Innocent people tend to offer evidence that proves their innocence, no matter how “baseless” the investigation. One has to wonder why, if Trump goes on and on about how he did nothing wrong and how his call with Ukraine was “perfect”, he wasn’t willing to let anyone prove his innocence. Makes me think of all the drama around his tax returns: If he’s not afraid of what people will find in them, what makes him so hesitant to reveal the same kind of information that every other candidate since Nixon has traditionally revealed? [And Nixon revealed his even though he was under audit.])

But Biden’s kid getting a $600k/yr job for doing absolutely nothing except having his father as the vice president overseeing Ukraine aid is all good with you?

“Sure, Trump openly and undeniably gave his daughter and his son-in-law positions in the White House despite the entire family’s lack of experience with public service and for no reason other than he could, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut…”

(Yes, the Biden thing stinks of corruption. But until someone without either a vested interest in taking down Biden before a presidential election or millions of dollars in financial aid being held above their heads can investigate the situation and prove a corrupt act took place, it’s literally no worse than Trump giving positions in the White House to his children because nepotism.)

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

But Biden’s kid getting a $600k/yr job

Biden has never been on board with that sort of shit, and he didn’t get his son the job. I am no Biden fan, but he has repeatedly gotten pissed with his brother and son using the Biden name. Further, so what if some energy company hires Hunter, whether or not he can influence his father? Has nothing to do with the Ukrainian government. And to go a step further – anyone as nepotistic and as much of a backroom networker as Trump has got some real balls making any claims about that tool Hunter Biden. Never minding politicians or just culture in general are all about who you know, and nothing has shit all to do with ability. Jesus, just look at the Republican administrations of Bush Jr. and Trump. Democrats are far from ideal, but they don’t load up every position with a clueless twit just because they are a friend, business associate, or campaign supporter.

Now, if there were a thing to investigate, then investigations should be done. You don’t try to get an "investigation" the way Trump did. Trump refuses to cooperate with any actual lawful investigation, so fuck him and his apologists whining about that dork Hunter.

This is all completely irrelevant, and has nothing to do with whistleblowers.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nothing the whistleblower pointed out was false. The Prez copped to the all the things, and pointed them out in the transcripts. He just thinks there is nothing wrong with what he did, and what he did afterward.

How do y’all think we don’t notice this? The whistle blower is fucking irrelevant. Any personal motives stemming from maybe disliking Trump prior to the whistleblowing are fucking irrelevant. What the whistleblower reported was true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The investigation into Biden was valid, there are millions of americans who see what Biden did as corrupt. The problem was that Trump didn’t use the right channels. But it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment, not even close. But if orange Man is always bad, then yeah, outrage ensues.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

The problem was that Trump called for any investigation at all. Any possible corruption that took place did so in Ukraine; that makes any initial investigation the responsibility of Ukraine, not the United States. A smarter president would have seen the conflict of interest inherent in the situation.

Even if any corruption related to Ukraine was proven to have happened in the United States, the president shouldn’t be the one to call for an investigation. Ukraine could have told the DOJ or the State Department or whoever would handle that sort of thing. The president shouldn’t be directing government agencies to investigate his political rivals for any reason. Or would you prefer to have a hypothetical President Bernie Sanders call for an investigation into a potential 2024 Republican rival for any reason (or none at all)?

Donald Trump attempted to have Ukraine interfere with the 2020 American presidential election. Even if you think what he did doesn’t rise to the level of “impeachable offense”, it is — at a bare minimum — a gross abuse of the power of the Oval Office for personal gain. How you can excuse it away with “but the Bidens were corrupt” is beyond my understanding. You can do something wrong for “righteous” reasons, but intent won’t erase the fact that you did something wrong.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I can’t help but wonder how many of those who are willing to give Trump a pass on abusing his power for political gain like that ‘because corruption’ also argue that the investigations into accusations of corruption regarding Trump were absolutely unjustified or uncalled for.

If trying to extort a foreign government is acceptable so long as it’s done under the guise of ‘investigating corruption’ then it seems to me that if they are to be logically consistent and honest then investigations within the country should be even more acceptable, because if potential corruption of a presidential candidate is of grave concern how much more serious would potential corruption of a sitting president be?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

I can’t help but wonder how many of those who are willing to give Trump a pass on abusing his power for political gain like that ‘because corruption’ also argue that the investigations into accusations of corruption regarding Trump were absolutely unjustified or uncalled for.

All of them~. Literally all of them~. Even the ones who say otherwise~.

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...Agrogsvating says:

Eric Katz

Any relation to Rita Katz from SITE intelligence, who waged the,Pensacola shooter cyberstalking turned mass homicide, and other anti -muslim propaganda, fake beheading videos, and ISIS hoaxes all over the west?

Or even Rebeccah Katz, a Democrat operative quoted in Bloomberg?

Just askin.

The first links in Duckduckgo pops this out (with no direct connection to Eric Katz, for some reason):

http://english.qstheory.cn/2015-03/16/c_1114467123.htm

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Eric Katz

Would genetics matter in such a thing? Just askin’.

You know, if you could make a relevant, coherent point, and not just use anything (even the factual stuff) to push your agenda of imaginary bullshit instead of dealing with any of the real, factual stuff itself, you could have a conversation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: not making a genetic claim

Crazy runs in families and, sometimes inbred tribes and klans, but not always heritable in terms of nature, without nurture of the craycray.

So, crazy in this case might be that the two younger ones stem from crazy Muslim hatin Rita. Im still investigating it.

In your case, its a case of see-say-hear -nothingness about this issue of toxic, partisan whistleblowers, or toxic Talpion contractors infesting Silicon Valley, and the mayhem they are waging with tech, and targeting individuals .

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/how-hand-israeli-tech-reaches-deep-our-lives

ECA (profile) says:

just a comment

If those we hired cant do the Job, why are they complaining WHEN we do it for them??
For all the cut backs int he gov. we still pay Tons in taxes that go where??(you can decide this part)
Oldest computers in the Gov are from around 1970, and still used..
the IRS and Pentagon computers seem to never get updated.
Love that we are still paying for a prototype plane that STILL has problems.. And the IRS cant track anything because of old computers that cant keep up with the STACK of IRS forms corps Use. And the personnel, that have been fired..Over 30% lost jobs in the last 20 years..

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Now, if you'll just stand on that target to make your report...

By continuing to demonize and hunt down whistleblowers who might expose wrongdoing they might prevent any number of them from doing so, but what they are also doing is making it so that anyone smart and ethical enough to be a whistleblower is going to be much less likely to report problems in a way that allows the matter to be handled and solve internally, and will instead release the damning evidence to the public at large, such that the government learns that someone had a problem to report at the same time the public does.

Not only is going after whistleblowers stupid when it comes to fixing problems(other than ‘somehow we still have ethical people working for us, someone fix that’), it’s also stupid when it comes to not having their dirty laundry aired for everyone to see. If the ‘official channels’ are rightly seen as a trap then people are much more likely to not use them, and instead go straight to the press/public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Been there, done that.

As someone who’s career had a stint working at a government contractor, I offer only one bit of advice: if you are faced with a situation where whistle blowing seems a solution, then GET OUT.

Whistle blowing does no good, the government doesn’t want it, the corporations don’t want it, Congress doesn’t want it, the public doesn’t want it.

If you have any ethics or integrity, go elsewhere. The short term consequences are that bad people will get away with bad things. The medium and long term consequences are that the caliber of the people working for the government will decline. The decline will lead to collapse of the associated entities.

Each of us has a choice to make, every day. Either we live up to the standard of a civilized individual, with ethics and integrity, or we live down to the level of the savage (or even beast). Choose civilization. If the organization you are in chooses differently, then get out. A civilized individual can (to a degree) understand the savage (as such be defensive). The savage is incapable of understanding civilization. It is not the responsibility of the civilized individual to "elevate" the savage. The civilized individual leads by example, and those who can see the benefit emulate that example. Trying to "make" a savage civilized, reduces the civilized individual to the level of the savage.

If the U. S. (or Russia, or China, or North Korea, or Iran or …) won’t live up to civilized standards, then they should be allow to naturally expire. There is a chance that the civilized people remaining can then build something better.

I’m truly sorry to have to say the above, there was a time I believed in the U. S.. Now, republican and democrat, conservative and liberal have shown me that most of the population of the U. S. don’t want the benefits of civilization. Those of us who attempt to be civilized do not, and (physically, intellectually or emotionally) can not, support a society of savages.

The U. S. either measures up, and lives up to civilized standards or it dies. All nations, each and every nation, who has lived down to the level of the savage has been destroyed.

As for President Trump being a villain, wasn’t it a Democratic Presidential candidate that threatened to nuke the U. S. himself, to get his way? A pox on both Democrat and Republican, both individually and together are a big part of the problem. Neither has campaigned on a platform of civilization, nor have either refrained from uncivilized and even savage means to obtain power and office.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: The government thanks you for your willful blindness

‘This message may or may not have been brought to you by the NSA and similar agencies, but it certainly is approved by them.’

If you have any ethics or integrity, go elsewhere. The short term consequences are that bad people will get away with bad things. The medium and long term consequences are that the caliber of the people working for the government will decline. The decline will lead to collapse of the associated entities.

Which of course is why there’s no such thing as organized crime, as once all the ethical people leave the whole organization collapses… eventually. Well, not like they can do much damage until that collapse I suppose, right?

… The civilized individual leads by example, and those who can see the benefit emulate that example. Trying to "make" a savage civilized, reduces the civilized individual to the level of the savage.

Oh the irony of someone supporting a ‘I come first, and society can just fix itself/rebuild from the ashes’ writing a screed like this. Hate to break it to you but you are almost certainly not on the side you think you are given what you’ve written, though on the plus side I suppose that means people shouldn’t bother trying to correct you, as ‘savages’ can’t learn and it would be a waste of time, not to mention risking sinking to your level.

James R Schweitzer says:

The DoD Hotline is definitely broken

I am a DoD whistle blower turned activist. Whistle blowers (like myself) are required to report illegal activities of contractors but DC does not want to hear about it. I recently received my first cease and desist from DoD (I am more than willing to share the letter and classified data).

A valid whistle blower complaint means someone in the DC oversight community has not been doing their job.

In my case, I was directed to develop classified code on unclassified machines after my clearance was taken (yes it was illegal). Raytheon directed me to develop this code illegally, US Army CMDS was aware of the problem and conveniently looked the other way.

I even received a challenge coin for my efforts in breaking the law.

I have plenty of recorded calls and letters I can share. There have been 3 instances where the government indirectly indicated I should not have been allowed to develop classified code with out a clearance.

The big problem is the revolving door between DC and industry. It’s not just limited to DoD (there was a reason the FDA recklessly approved all of these opioids that spawned the current opioid crisis). This revolving door appears to be playing the song "Don’t Rock The Boat" over and over again.

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Anonymous Coward says:

If anyone knows of an attorney who will defend a whistleblower with concrete evidence please contact me at mbr22157@gmail.
I was bullied, targeted, and retaliated against. I lost my job and have proof that the colonel who had me fired recently slandered
my good name when asked for a job reference and I have proof.

AC Liberation NOW! says:

Re: sure, I ’ll bite

The Intercept has gotten sloppy (Reality Winner )and other media like NYT etc are tribal-political sewers and will sell you quick in an election year.

But: Wikileaks is still solid if you take active measures, like throwaway accounts, encrypted delivery, Dropbox, from a coffee shop hotspot, etc.

Maybe read up a bit on leaking so that you dont get caught up (dont use a DoD computer, lol).

https://freedom.press/news/sharing-sensitive-leaks-press/

Or, just write to ROGS, a journo who still has integrity.

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