On February 19, 2010, David Colapinto participated in an on-air panel during the “Your Call”radio show. Mr. Colapinto is General Counsel of the National Whistleblowers Center. Other panel members included Daniel Ellsberg who released the historic Pentagon Papers which helped to shorten the Vietnam War and Marsha Coleman-Adebayo a former analyst for the EPA who was fired was while blowing the whistle on contamination in South Africa. Daniel Ellsberg is releasing a movie about his story “The Most Dangerous Man in America” which is premiering in the California area in early March.
Mr. Ellsberg hopes that the film will expose parallels between the political anti whistleblower environment of the Vietnam era and today. He explained that whistleblowers have had historically little media attention but are gradually receiving more as their endeavors have furthered the public interest. Mr. Colapinto explained the difficulty whistleblowers have in exposing fraud, and recalled the story of an FBI employee, Sibel Edmonds, who received a gag order preventing her from suing the FBI for retaliation. This makes it nearly impossible for federal whistleblowers to expose fraud. Ms. Coleman-Adebayo explained the level of hostility she encountered after exposing contamination by U.S. companies in South Africa. She explained that she continually received death and rape threats as her court date approached. The whistleblower protection laws are insufficient and do nothing to protect whistleblowers from this type of abuse. Mr. Colapinto explained that government employees who blow the whistle have a 2% success rate and National Security employees have a zero percent chance. The national security apparatus that exists prevents employees from speaking out. This practice has prevented federal employees from speaking out when they could raise issues to make the public safer. Mr. Colapinto said that much better protections exist in the private sector for whistleblowers than in the public sector. Congress has had bi-partisan support for the bill H.R. 1507 which would give effective protection to federal employee whistleblowers. However, the bill has died in the Senate. Supporters of stronger laws to protect whistleblowers can call their Senators and ask them to support HR 1507 to ensure the protection of the public interest. Thanks to Mr. Colapinto and the panel for their informative discussion, alerting the public to the lack of protection that exists for whistleblowers defending the public interest. To listen to the interview in its entirety and learn more please click here. TAKE ACTION by calling on your Senators to stop a whistleblower bill containing poison pills, and adopt HR 1507 instead.
Intern Quinn McCall contributed to this blog entry.