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Privacy Businesses Government Security

Where Whistleblowers End Up Working 224

HughPickens.com writes Jana Kasperkevic writes at The Guardian that it's not every day that you get to buy an iPhone from an ex-NSA officer. Yet Thomas Drake, former senior executive at National Security Agency, is well known in the national security circles for leaking information about the NSA's Trailblazer project to Baltimore Sun. In 2010, the government dropped all 10 felony charges against him and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for unauthorized use of a computer and lost his livelihood. "You have to mortgage your house, you have to empty your bank account. I went from making well over $150,000 a year to a quarter of that," says Drake. "The cost alone, financially — never mind the personal cost — is approaching million dollars in terms of lost income, expenses and other costs I incurred."

John Kiriakou became the first former government official to confirm the use of waterboarding against al-Qaida suspects in 2009. "I have applied for every job I can think of – everything from grocery stores to Toys R Us to Starbucks. You name it, I've applied there. Haven't gotten even an email or a call back," says Kiriakou. According to Kasperkevic, this is what most whistleblowers can expect. The potential threat of prosecution, the mounting legal bills and the lack of future job opportunities all contribute to a hesitation among many to rock the boat. "Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, declared a war on whistleblowers virtually as soon as they assumed office," says Kiriakou. "Washington has always needed an "ism" to fight against, an idea against which it could rally its citizens like lemmings. First, it was anarchism, then socialism, then communism. Now, it's terrorism. Any whistleblower who goes public in the name of protecting human rights or civil liberties is accused of helping the terrorists."
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Where Whistleblowers End Up Working

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  • Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:10AM (#47992031)

    It's a very effective method at discouraging effective and functional resistance against status quo.

    Similar procedures were used against key people behind Occupy movement according to similar reports.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:36AM (#47992175)

      The phrase "Freedom isn't Free" doesn't just apply on the battlefield.

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:51AM (#47992263)

        Except that they are specifically giving up their freedom. For the right cause. So this isn't about "cost of freedom", but "doing the right thing costing people their freedom" as in modern West, being poor is effectively a crime that limits your freedom greatly.

        • Right, and dying also limits your personal freedom. Your freedom, does come at the expense of those who are willing to personally sacrifice to varying to degrees to keep it.

          • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

            You know, it's pretty sad that people like you are willing to pretend to be protecting the freedom, all while happily supporting the system which people who were actually protecting the freedom fought against. And then screaming abuse of "they protected YOUR freedom" at people like me who point out the fallacy, using ridiculous hyperbolic talking points to deflect attention from the subject.

            • Oh, you seem to be completely mistaken.

              "The system" is an arbitrary notion. Some systems can have positive effects. For example, I'd rather have a democratic system than the historically apparent de-facto social default of petty demi-feudal tyrants.

              And I'd rather have a court based justice system, then a personally run petty revenge based justice system.

              You can take that as generically accepting "The system", and all the things that aren't so-great if you want, but it's going have to be willful ignorance

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @09:35AM (#47992611)

        When is the last time the US military fought a battle for freedom? Hint: corporate profits != freedom.

        • by johanw ( 1001493 )

          What was the first one? All the way back to the Cuban invasion and the civil war I see only wars that were either started by the US fot profits or power, or were started because someone else started it (like WW2, where the US responded to a preemptive strike when the Japanese reacted like the modern US when they got hindered in their access to oil. And then Hitler declared war on the US too for good measure).

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

      by silfen ( 3720385 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @09:25AM (#47992527)

      It's a very effective method at discouraging effective and functional resistance against status quo.

      Relying on whistleblowers to "resist the status quo" is a stupid political strategy. The power of the NSA and CIA need to be limited, civil liberties and constitutionality need to be restored, by the people we vote for. But as long as sheep keep reelecting politicians who blatantly violate their campaign promises of transparency, accountability, constitutionality, and restoration of civil liberties, nothing is going to change.

      Similar procedures were used against key people behind Occupy movement according to similar reports.

      You make it sound like a conspiracy. But there are millions of private employers; they just individually look at these people and decide that hiring them isn't worth the risk and hassle.

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @09:52AM (#47992797)

        See, that's the beauty of the Western system, as compared to for example Russia. There, if private companies dump dissidents, it's "oh noes government's fault".
        But in the land of the free? That's just private corporations exercising their freedom!

        The only actual difference? Slightly greater plausible deniability that works on people like you. Apparently. Because you see, there's no "conspiracy". There's simply the system that is set to encourage not employing those who resist status quo. Conspiracy implies secrecy, and there's there little secrecy about this issue, as you yourself point out.

        • by silfen ( 3720385 )

          See, that's the beauty of the Western system, as compared to for example Russia. There, if private companies dump dissidents, it's "oh noes government's fault". But in the land of the free? That's just private corporations exercising their freedom!

          Private companies didn't "dump" these people. Private companies have nothing to do with these people, their choices, their legal troubles. Individual businesses simply decide individually that hiring these people isn't worth their trouble.

          And a big part of that ca

      • The power of the NSA and CIA need to be limited, civil liberties and constitutionality need to be restored, by the people we vote for. But as long as sheep keep reelecting politicians who blatantly violate their campaign promises of transparency, accountability, constitutionality, and restoration of civil liberties, nothing is going to change.

        They aren't sheep, they're wolflings voting to ensure their nation gets to be the Big Bad Wolf of nations. How could they possibly be otherwise, when the entire syste

        • by silfen ( 3720385 )

          They aren't sheep, they're wolflings voting to ensure their nation gets to be the Big Bad Wolf of nations.

          If people wanted a hawk, Obama would have been the last person to vote for, given both what he said he stood for and his utter incompetence when it comes to foreign or military policy.

          How could they possibly be otherwise, when the entire system they live in is set up as one giant game of "winner takes it all, loser has to fall"?

          You make no sense.

    • by thieh ( 3654731 )

      It's a very effective method at discouraging effective and functional resistance against status quo.

      Similar procedures were used against key people behind Occupy movement according to similar reports.

      Somehow that makes me wonder what happens when we set up a corporation just to whistleblow on other companies. But then it would probably turn into a nasty bit of the complex where they just keep blackmailing other companies instead.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        That's what wikileaks effectively did. They ended up cut off from entire worldwide payment and banking system almost entirely.


  • The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

    ...and; People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

    More to the point is that of course, all these disproportionate and draconian measures have ensured no whistle-blowing takes place. Good job, pat yourselves on the back and suck each other's cocks.

    -nuff said
    • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:36AM (#47992173)

      Good job, pat yourselves on the back and suck each other's cocks.

      I don't believe they are talking about that particular use of Whistleblowers.

    • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @10:34AM (#47993217)

      Governments should be afraid of their people.

      It is. That's why it spies on them.

  • Transparency (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msk ( 6205 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:17AM (#47992061)

    How's that transparent government working out?

    • Like hot air, it's so transparent that you can't figure out what is it doing.
    • by wickedsteve ( 729684 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:32AM (#47992151) Homepage
      Campaign Obama: promises change - President Obama: changes promise
    • "Transparency" and "openness" are just a politician's way of saying "I need you to vote for me, but the second I'm in office I'm going to be just as much a shitheel as the last guy."

      • Re:Transparency (Score:5, Insightful)

        by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @09:59AM (#47992863) Journal

        Something happens between the election and the inauguration that changes a president's entire ethos.

        Makes you wonder what happens when they brief the incoming president on The Big Secret Stuff. Do you think they find out "holy shit there really are terrorists and/or aliens everywhere we're barely keeping at bay," or do you think a man with no name just hands the president a picture of JFK's head getting blown off from the perspective of the grassy knoll and says "here's your new talking points?"

        • ... or do you think a man with no name just hands the president a picture of JFK's head getting blown off from the perspective of the grassy knoll and says "here's your new talking points?"

          Apologies to Bill Hicks [youtube.com].

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by meta-monkey ( 321000 )

            Well, there it is.

            The powers behind the MIC, the weapons manufacturers, are billionaire sociopaths. These people care only about their own money and power and will start wars on false pretenses resulting in terrible death and destruction, kids with their limbs blown off, dead soldiers, starvation, panic, whatever, just to make more money selling bombs. Do you think they would have any qualms about threatening a president? Do you really think they're going to let their plans depend on something as silly as t

  • by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:18AM (#47992069)

    If I remember correctly, before and after entering office, Obama vowed to improve government transparency and protecting whistle blowers. While in sections, such as with ARRA, government transparency was increased, the remainder of the government was obscured further.

     

    • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:22AM (#47992093) Homepage

      Yes, he promised us the most transparent government ever. It's not his fault though, it's all those hard drives, you know, they just... Gosh, they keep crashing. Whoops.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And whistleblowers were persecuted more harshly than ever:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-van-buren/silencing-whistleblowers_b_4895847.html
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/obama-whistleblower-website_n_3658815.html
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-ditz/obama-insider-threat_b_3588818.html

      And this is a joke:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/07/obama-whistleblowers_n_5564965.html

      It encourages whistleblowers to voice their concerns through channels instead of leaks.
      Well duh! Of course these pe

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Obama vowed to improve government transparency and protecting whistle blowers.

      Obama has also prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other Administrations combined. Last count I saw was seven by Obama, three by all previous Presidents.

      Yes, I know that Obama isn't the one issuing the orders to prosecute. But he IS the one who can issue the order to stop prosecuting them....

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NotDrWho ( 3543773 )

      That's what people get for believing that ANY leader EVER wants people in his organization releasing embarrassing information to the public about said organization.

      Anyone who ever tells you "I'm cool with the people who work for me embarrassing me and undermining me" is FUCKING LYING. Period. End of story. YES, YOUR GUY TOO! YES, GANDHI AND MOTHER TERESA TOO!

  • by mean pun ( 717227 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:22AM (#47992089)

    "Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, declared a war on whistleblowers virtually as soon as they assumed office," says Kiriakou.

    Obama is certainly not any better than his predecessors, but I have to wonder if he is any worse. Valery Plame was on G. W. Bush's watch, for example.

  • the new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Connie_Lingus ( 317691 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:23AM (#47992095) Homepage

    yeah...i feel for this guy. i can relate.

    in this day and age, pretty much anything you do that could potentially show that you are not a good little robot that sits up and says "more, please" when corporations and law enforcement slap you around goes on your record and eliminates you from enjoying that sort of upper middle-class life. how wonderful for the law-n-order types...no so much for independant souls.

    it's happening all around us in real time...the Goodell story, Ray Rice...hashtag mobs become judge and jury for a few days and completely destroy lives.

      now I get it...in this case it's different but corporate HR departments are just hashtag mobs of 1.

    • What does Ray Rice punching his wife in the face and knocking her out on video have to do with the persecution of whistleblowers?
  • Future wars (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:29AM (#47992131) Homepage

    Well...

    egrep ".*ism$" /usr/share/dict/words | perl -MList::Util=shuffle -e 'print shuffle();' | tail -n 10 ... tells me that the next ten things that the US is going to wage war against are:

    Factionalism
    Occidentalism
    Aerotropism
    Briticism
    Rebaptism
    Establishmentarianism.
    Freemasonism
    Achronism
    Henotheism
    Selenotropism

    I look forward to the War on Henotheism. Make up your minds, there's either one god or there's multiple! If you don't pick between the existence of one god or multiple, then the Henotheists win!

    (Side note: Slashdot, stop playing content critic with your "Filter error: That's an awful long string of letters there")

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:33AM (#47992155)

    Manning tried to impress an actual hacker and the hacker dude didn't want any part of it.

    Snowden grabbed the goods and and made headlines across the planet.

    Why in Sam Hill do whistle blowers have to step into the spotlight with their incriminating evidence?

    There are lots of ways to drop that crap off and be quiet about it.

    The system is training for that, you know. It's the next logical step.

    Want to expose a wrongdoing?

    Wear the cloak of AC.

    • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:37AM (#47992181)
      Two problems with that are that if nobody is behind a leak, it's far easier to dispel, and the government may be able to find you anyway.
    • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:46AM (#47992241) Homepage
      Except the government is still going out figure out who it was. You just get to decide if you are the random unknown civilian who has a car crash during his morning commute or the famous whistle-blower barricaded in an embassy.
    • anonymous tips are almost worthless.

      do you have any idea how many of those authorities receive daily?

      without someone willing to testify and be "the face" of the situation, prosecutors have no real case.

    • If heroism was completely selfless it would be even more rare. The dopamine rush from the thoughts of being lauded as a hero probably tips the scale to acting as a whistle blower.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:39AM (#47992187)

    It may be a moral good, even a moral necessity to do it. But you're *never* rewarded for it, even under the best of circumstances (all these bullshit whistleblower bounty programs are just for show). And at worst, you'll end up in prison or dead.

    • The reward is the awareness the The People have after the leak is confirmed. Until then, you're a tinfoil-hat wearer. Either way, it's best to advise The People.

      Kids aren't afraid to speak up and protest [dailykos.com] against the government trying to mandate the history classes to omit teaching anything about the past that glorifies those in the past that blew the whistle or did any sort of patriotic action that would, today, go against the status quo. Maybe you have a point, but what's the use of that point in tod
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        I would rather live free. Maybe focus on that instead of thinking up excuse to die for?

        • If this is how you interpret what I said, then I can certainly understand why your sig says what it says. Slim scope there, kid.
    • Not true. I'm thankful for Edward Snowden lifting the veil on the NSA's illegal programs. I'd buy the guy a beer if I could.
  • by Squidlips ( 1206004 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:50AM (#47992255)
    And we lapped it up....
  • How is it logical that he loses his job and now he can't get any job?

    I can understand probably government is off limits for him, and if he goes to a big company maybe the background check would keep him from a job. But there have to be plenty of small businesses who would be willing to hire him, and certainly if he just goes looking for anonymous low brow work, well that shouldn't be a problem, no?

    This article seems to suggest if you piss off Uncle Sam, he'll force you into homelessness....

    • by tsstahl ( 812393 )

      If you show up at McDonalds asking for a job and the most recent experience on your resume is a 150K job with the government, the Pimply Faced Youth doing the hiring is going to gloss right over.

      Let's say the Mr. Whistle does get by the the initial screening and becomes a serious candidate. As the company is doing due diligence like reference checks and background checks, it is very easy to tank someone's chances. I'm not talking about nefarious shadow men showing up making dire innuendo. The 'secret' qu

      • Yeah but that's the thing.

        When I got hired to wash dishes in college I showed up and they asked me if I had a social security card, then told me to start working.

        I did maybe ten other jobs with similar requirements (warm body that can lift stuff and clean). All of them were a breeze.

        There's no resume asked for with certain jobs. I'm not surprised his career in government is over. I am surprised it's over for McDonalds.

    • How is it logical that he loses his job and now he can't get any job?

      Quite logical, really. These days, HR will do a background check on *anybody* they hire. All you need is an Internet connection, after all. When the whistleblowing comes up, the HR guy decides, "He's a trouble-maker. I've got dozens of other resumes. I'll pick somebody who's not a trouble-maker."

    • Under the spreading chestnut tree
      I sold you and you sold me
      There lie they, and here lie we
      Under the spreading chestnut tree
    • There are conspiracy theories swirling about a "Do Not Hire" list that will flag otherwise innocent people in a background check if they're on the government's naughty list. It's possible at least...but what are the odds that EVERY job this guy applied to ran a check that could be exploited?

      • A secret "Do Not Hire" list seems a bit much. Because we haven't heard of it, it would imply a huge number of levels of people involved who were keeping the secret, including the little old lady at the corner store who wouldn't let the guy in as a bagger.

        • The little old lady wouldn't have to know about it. She sends in a background check for the bagger, it comes back saying Something Bad because he's on the government's naughty list, and the little old lady doesn't hire the guy and yet doesn't have any idea a Do Not Hire list exists.

    • It's like having a PhD and a felony conviction, all rolled into one.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @08:51AM (#47992275) Homepage
    Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison after he pled guilty to a felony. in america its important to distinguish misdemeanors and felonies as most employers dont care about the former. Misdemeanors are traffic citations or DUI first offense and many are willing to overlook them in white-collar professions. a felony however is a different matter. Felonies in the US ban you in many states from public assistance like food stamps or government housing assistance. a felony can get you apartment application rejected, you car insurance increased, your credit rating destroyed, and will (despite what you were convicted of) destroy your life forever. If you want to buy a home, most homeowners associations will categorically deny the sale if you have a prior felony conviction. Felons cant hold politcal office, and are often subject to very strict mandatory parole terms imposed after their sentence for up to a year or more. Whats worse is most prisons also require you to pay restitution for their "services" and while a misdemeanor is often expungeable from your criminal record, a felony is not. Prior felony convictions in many states cannot be served at bars, and may be forbidden from owning a firearm. Kiriakou isnt being punished for "helping the terrorists." Hes just learning what its like to live in americas untouchable caste, a scarlet letter that affects more than 5 million americans currently.
    • Given he is still in prison, no he isn't yet learning any of that yet.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @09:34AM (#47992597) Homepage

      Amazing. Not only do we prevent them from working, we also prevent them from collecting food stamps so that they are further incentivised to resort to theft. Then if they get caught we put them in prison where they get the free food, clothing, and shelter we didn't want to give them before they resorted to theft.

    • The original definition of a felon was person who committed a crime punishable by death. Now it includes things like spitting your gum on the sidewalk and jaywalking. Peeing in a bush next to a bar isn't a felony but will make you a lifetime sex offender if you are caught....

    • You have to plead guilty or get buried in debt, and then when you are broke, somehow defend against new charges.

      Face it; Whistleblowers will be found guilty. And the longer they wait to "sign the papers" the more the Prosecutor will force them to defend expensive and spurious charges.

      These Whistleblowers are all national treasures, yet they must sacrifice their futures so that the rest of us can sit on our asses and pretend to have a Democracy for a few more years.

  • Leaving government for the private sector usually involves a great deal of soft corruption: employers who want inside connections, inside knowledge, and lobbying power; obviously, these people can't bring that to the table. Beyond that, they may not have that many skills employers want.

  • Elementary. If you piss off the government of a country, then you better move to another country.
  • by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @09:41AM (#47992679)

    They got caught with their dicks in the cookie jar, and still (still!) they blame the kid who called them out for it.

    Don't fool yourself with ideologies and policy statements and fancy speeches. It's all Bullshit. Democrats = Republicans = Cunts. Power likes to suck itself off and *hates* it when someone gets in the way. Somehow we all know this, but sometimes we need to see it to really believe it. Did many of those who voted for Obama really think the government under his administration would not only be caught spying on US citizens, but that he himself would actively defend it, and that he would use his underlings to spend more effort on the Snowden witchhunt and character assassination than looking into the NSA overreach wrongdoing? It's disgusting behavior, but not wholly unexpected for any reasonably diligent student of political history.

    The only people worse than those trying to acquire power are those trying to retain it.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 )

    Obama called Starbucks and tole them not to hire him.

    Please.

  • by nikkipolya ( 718326 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @10:11AM (#47993005)

    By being a whistleblower they have displayed to the world that they have a lot of risk taking abilities. Now that they have appeared on slashdot, they should consider writing a book about their experiences. The hesitation, the resistance they faced at their work-place, then the moment... They can then sell the rights to their story to movie studios too!! That's the way forward to high risk takers such as whistleblowers. Make it all or loose it all!! They can then go around delivering lectures about their experiences, their book. Go independent, I mean!!

  • Start a web site? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @10:16AM (#47993039)
    Start a web site that can serve as a talent pool for people like this. Many people would consider them american heroes, and if they had more visibility, maybe they would get hired faster. If they show up on a background check, the employers would be more likely to know why and give them a pass.
  • And yet, when I talk to people about shady things that it looks like to government has done or is doing, I am told that if such a thing were happening someone would talk. Someone with a conscience would come forward and expose the shady operation.

    Well, not necessarily. As we see here, there is a high cost to coming forward. If what you are coming forward about is classified, expect to go to prison as well (with the bonus of perhaps not being able to prove your allegation because it is all classified). P

  • by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Thursday September 25, 2014 @10:26AM (#47993153)

    If we were serious about ending criminal acts in the US government, we would:

    1) create a fully independent office inside the government to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers, with powers no less than congress' Special Prosecutor (i.e. equal to the presidency)

    2) offer whistleblowers generous retirement benefits for life (to escape retribution)

    3) give them blanket immunity from prosecution

    4) prosecute the gov't wrongdoers all the way up the chain of command, *starting* at top executive levels

    But the US government does the opposite. That's the very definition of racketeering and organized crime.

  • Terrorism, the universal justification for pretty much every imaginable government abuse. Far better than blaming a conspiracy of an ethnic group like the previous generation fascists chose, terrorism is better because it can apply to anyone, regardless of ethnic makeup. Plus, it never ends, there will no doubt always be terrorists, or at least always someone that can be accused of it. Anyone you don't like can be accused of "helping the terrorists." When in actual fact, blaming terrorists itself helps

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