Examining Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Harassment and discrimination at USDA has gotten worse under the Obama Administration. Witnesses testified sexual assault, harassment, discrimination, and resulting retaliation has increased at the Agency since 2008.
- Whistleblowers shared personal heartbreaking accounts of sexual harassment, hostile work environments, and discrimination.
- FS has shown a lack of accountability and a poor record of investigating allegations of sexual harassment with perpetrators often escaping discipline by retiring, moving, or seeking a promotion.
- The Office of Special Counsel found that the USDA Office of Civil Rights (OASCR) is “seriously mismanaged, thereby compromising the civil rights of USDA employees.”
- FS requested Congressional assistance to simplify the process of firing federal employees.
Clinton School of Public Service Co-hosts Free Whistleblower Summit Lecture Series at Clinton Presidential Library, April 21-23
Historic event coincides with State Reps. Vivian Flowers and Ken Ferguson’s proclamation supporting National Whistleblower Appreciation Day
Little Rock, Ark— On April 21-23 The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will co-host free lectures and events open to the public that celebrate the important role of whistleblowers and their advocates. The events, which will take place at the Clinton Presidential Library and other nearby locations, are cosponsored by The Whistleblower Summit® for Civil & Human Rights; a Washington, D.C.-based organization that will host its fifth annual event on Capitol Hill in July. The Arkansas mini-conference is the first in a series of smaller conferences the organization intends to host outside of the District of Columbia.
Conference organizer Michael McCray, a native Arkansan who moved to Washington, D.C. with the Clinton administration, says his hometown was selected to host the lecture series for a number of reasons including that its state legislature is expected to be the first to support a National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30. State Reps. Vivian Flowers and Ken Ferguson will introduce their proclamation during a 9 a.m. April 22 press conference at the Clinton Presidential Center. The press conference will also address the Flint, Michigan water contamination crisis. Other participants in the conference include McCray, Stephen Kohn of the National Whistleblower Center and Carlton Winfrey, who covers politics for the Detroit Free Press.
"There is no Free Press without confidential sources. There can be no Congressional Oversight without government informants. Whistleblowers are the ‘Fifth Estate’ protecting freedom, liberty and Democracy.”
--Michael McCray, Esq., CPA (inactive)
Among the other events is a April 22 movie night in which the documentary “The Seven Five” will be shown with a discussion led by (Ret) U.S. Chief Deputy Marshall Matthew Fogg. Movie night will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Little Rock, River Market Pavilion. April 23, there will be a book signing and discussion group from 10 a.m. to noon at Pyramid Book Store, 1001 Wright Av., Suite C. Authors participating in the signing include McCray (“ACORN 8: Race, Power & Politics”), Stephen W. Kohn (“The Whistleblower’s Handbook”), Tom Devine (“Corporate Whistleblowers Survival Guide”) and Michael Volpe (The Definitive Dossier on PTSD in Whistleblowers).
Over the last eight years members from the Make it Safe Coalition (MISC) have arranged an assembly of whistleblowers in Washington, DC each year for an annual conference originally known as Washington Whistleblower’s Week. Host committee members—ACORN 8, Coalition for Change (C4C), Project Censored, Justice Integrity Project and Federally Employed Women Legal Education Fund (FEW-LEF), will co-host this year’s Whistle Blower Summit for Civil & Human Rights on Capitol Hill. The theme for the annual conference this year is Black Lives Matter—This Is The Movement!
We are a coalition of individual whistle-blowers, grassroots activists, public interest advocates and policy makers. We provide a sense of community and mutual support for whistle-blowers or civil and human rights activists. During the conference, we also present the Pillar Award for Human Rights. The Pillar is awarded to notable civil and human rights champions; previous recipients include Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). The Pillar is awarded to politicians, community activists and journalists—including documentary filmmakers.
In light of the recent interest in Hollywood films and documentaries about whistleblowers; this year we will present a Pillar Award for filmmakers at the Whistle Blower Summit for Civil & Human Rights. This award will highlight important whistleblower films—from documentaries to feature films. Our goal is to draw attention to important films about whistleblowers or investigative journalists, which may have been overlooked by traditional film festivals. Participant Media screened “The Fifth Estate” to the whistleblower community at the National Press Club during the Whistle Blower Summit in 2013.
The Pillar Award Nominees for “Best Whistle Blower Film” 2015 finalists are
(Listed In Alphabetical Order)
Ian Thomas Ash A2-B-C. Director / Cinematographer.
A2-B-C: (Censored Fukushima Film)
Eighteen months after the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, children who were not evacuated are found to have thyroid cysts and low white blood cell counts. What will this mean for their future?
- Winner—Castell Award: Barcelona International Film Festival (2014)
- Winner—Best of Festival Award: Guam International Film Festival (2013)
- Nominated—Grand Jury Award: Best Documentary Feature (2013)
Michael Cuesta-- Kill the Messenger. Director / Producer.
Kill the Messenger
A reporter becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California. Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb.
- Nominated—Joe Barber Award / Best Portrayal of Washington, DC: Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards (2014)
- Nominated—Best Actor (Jeremy Renner): Women Film Critics Circle Awards (2014)
- Nominated—Best Male Images in a Movie:Women Film Critics Circle Awards (2014)
James Spione—Silenced. Director / Producer.
Three National Security whistleblowers fight to reveal the darkest corners of America's war on terror, challenging a government that is increasingly determined to maintain secrecy.
- Nominated—Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Award: Cleveland International Film Festival (2015)
- Winner—Founders Prize / Documentary Feature: Traverse City Film Festival (2014)
Randall Stith--The Hidden Enemy. Director / Producer.
The Hidden Enemy: Inside Psychiatry's Covert Agenda
Today, with militaries of the world awash in psychiatry and psychiatric drugs, 23 soldiers and veterans are committing suicide everyday. Psychiatrists say we need more psychiatry. But should we trust them? Or is psychiatry the hidden enemy? Featuring interviews with over 80 soldiers and experts, this penetrating documentary shatters the facade to reveal the real culprit who are destroying our world's militaries from within. The most dangerous enemy is the one you never suspect...
Kristina Borjesson (filmmaker and journalist)
TWA Flight 800
A thought-provoking documentary about the ill-fated Trans World Airline Flight 800 to Paris, France, which exploded on July 17, 1996 just 12 minutes after takeoff from JFK International Airport, killing all 230 people on board. The special features six former members of the official crash investigation breaking their silence to refute the officially proposed cause of the jetliner's demise and reveal how the investigation was systematically undermined.
The Whistle Blower Summit includes a historic panel discussion with distinguished authors of whistleblower books who will be present to autograph and discuss their books. The book signing will be followed by film screenings of “Pillar Award” nominated whistleblower films. Thus “Movie Night” with the whistle-blowers is one of the highlights of our annual summit, because it gives whistleblowers, advocates and conference attendees an opportunity to interact with the general public in a relaxed atmosphere that promotes camaraderie and builds broad community support.
Teaching for Change's Busboys and Poets Bookstore and Zinn Education Project have sponsored venues for whistleblowers and authors during the Whistle Blower Summit over the last few years. By drawing direct connections to real world issues, Teaching for Change encourages teachers and students to question and re-think the world inside and outside their classrooms, build a more equitable, multicultural society, and become active global citizens.
Last year we launched our own Whistle Blower / Social Justice children’s education initiative, which encourages young people to learn about, appreciate and respect the contributions that ordinary citizens make to society—everyday. We have sponsored a ”whistleblower” essay contest, given out college scholarships to the essay contest winners, and have developed a K-12 / college curriculum that teaches social integrity and corporate responsibility.
The “Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act” Would Provide Military Whistleblowers with the Same Protections as Civilians
WASHINGTON – The Whistleblower Protection Caucus is adding two new members, according to the Caucus’ Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Vice-Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon. Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) are joining the bipartisan caucus, a group of senators committed to raising awareness of the value and need to protect individuals who call attention to fraud, waste and misconduct.
Senator Charles Grassley announced the official formation of a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus during a press conference held in the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Room. The founding members of the caucus are Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (chairman), Ron Wyden (D-OR) (vice-chairman), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE) Thom Tillis (R-NC), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
On the eve of a major Whistleblower Summit in the nation's capital, a federal judge issued a shocking pro-CIA ruling that has the effect of discouraging disclosure about the 1963 murder of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon denied attorneys fees under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to truth-seekers whose decade-long litigation against the CIA unearthed one of the most important disclosures during recent years in the murder investigation.
One revelation from the litigation was that a CIA psychological warfare expert, George Joannides, may have met accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before the killing -- and then failed to disclose that fact in the 1970s to congressional investigators reexamining the case. Joannides was the CIA's official liaison to congressional investigators.
Leon has issued three previous pro-CIA rulings, all reversed by the federal appellate court. His pattern of pro-agency rulings helps underscore the importance of the annual Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights, which began Monday, July 28 and extended for four highly successful days at several locations in Washington, DC. Details are here.
At the Summit, I examined Leon's role during my panel discussion about FOIA litigation on the opening day 28. I did so so earlier during the day also during a radio interview by Gloria Minott of WPFW-FM, which was syndicated nationally by the Pacifica Network and locally at 89.3 FM.
Minott was the main moderator of the Summit, which honored, among others, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio. Nacchio was imprisoned on dubious financial fraud charges after he refused a Bush-Cheney administration demand before 9/11 to help the NSA undertake illegal surveillance of Qwest customers. My information from expert sources for years has has been that Nacchio was targeted by prosecutors as reprisal for being the only major telco CEO to refuse the government's then-illegal spying orders.
More generally, whistleblowers should know that Leon's decision discouraging investigation of President Kennedy's murder helps illustrate how truth-seekers can face hidden obstacles that motivate biased judges and other supposedly independent watchdogs to use their skills to fight disclosure even -- or especially -- when the stakes are high.
Truth-seekers should thus press forward with litigation and other tactics, but should be prepared also to fight in the court of public opinion.