Breaking news from senior officials at the White House has confirmed negotiations between the President and Department of Justice have begun to rethink the New York City trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his cohorts.
Amid a growing number of lawmakers, residents and surviving family members the President has began to rethink giving terrorists a platform to insult America in such a open trial.
In recent weeks surviving family members of 9/11 have stepped up their concern for a show trial in NYC. Joining the family members are those from law enforcement and fire departments who suffered a significant losses on 9/11. The cost for the trial is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $200 million per year and the last federal trial of the 20th highjacker took four years to complete.
In an effort to stop the September 11th show trial in NYC, Rep. Bill King (R-NY) has moved to defund the NYC trial of KSM and his cohorts. King explained he has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of Justice Department funds to try Guantanamo detainees in federal civilian courts. King called the decision to try the case in NYC “one of the worst decisions ever made by any president.” He went on to say military commissions should be trying terror suspects.
Shortly after King’s announcement to cut funding for the trial, Governor of New York David Paterson said he too is seeking to have the trial moved to another location.
In an apparent change of heart, Mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg said he called Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to lobby for moving the trial outside lower Manhattan.
Mayor Bloomberg has spoken out against plans to move forward with the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, at the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, joining a growing chorus of people who believe the circus trial will be too disruptive and cost the city too much money.
“It would be great if the federal government could find a site that didn’t cost a billion dollars, which using downtown will,” he said to reporters earlier this week.
“It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people,” the mayor said. “Can we provide security? Yes. Could you provide security elsewhere? Yeah, and I mean — the suggestion of a military base is probably a reasonably good one. They tend to be outside of cities so that they don’t disrupt other people.”
“He has a good point and the administration should listen to that point. KSM does not have to be tried in NYC,” Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said during a MSNBC appearance. “If there is evidence that this will either make NYC a target or present unusual expenses, then the mayor- and I’ve been a mayor- should be listened to.”
This week’s statement from the mayor marked a 180-degree turn from his initial reaction to the news, two months ago, that the trial would be held in Manhattan. ”It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered,” he previously explained.
On behalf of the survivors of 9/11, Human Events, a conservative organization, put together a petition with signatures and have sent it to Attorney General Holder. It read in part; “Mr. Holder, as Attorney General of the United States, it was within your power to move the trial of KSM from a military tribunal to a civilian court. It is equally within your power to reverse that dangerous decision. The petition hereby request that you try al-Qaeda’s confessed 9/11 terrorist mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four al-Qaeda cohorts in a military tribunal, reversing your precedent-changing decision to try them in a civilian court in New York City.”
“Our final words are from David Beamer, father of Todd Beamer, one of the heroes of United Flight 93: ‘Our enemies must be thrilled’ he wrote of your decision to give KSM and the others a civilian trial in Manhattan. We are willingly handing them an opportunity to inflict economic harm on New York City, keep their cause in the headlines, gather new intelligence, create new terror strategies, stimulate recruiting, celebrate new found rights, and foist a fresh round of pain and suffering upon their victims.”
Currently the military tribunal has dismissed the case against KSM and four others without prejudice and they can take up the action and move forward with new proceedings, according to Rudy Giuliani former mayor of NYC during 9/11.
Other prominent lawmakers joining the Mayor Bloomberg’s quest to move the trial include Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY).
Speaking confidently about the possible NYC terror trial, John Boehner (R-OH) House Minority leader said the President doesn’t have the votes needed to try the case in the Big Apple.
Congress is almost sure to deny President Obama the funds necessary to conduct the trials in the federal courthouse just blocks away from the Twin Towers, ground zero of the 9/11 attacks that cut short the lives of nearly 3,000 civilians.
“The discussions are under way in case the option of holding the trials in New York City is foreclosed upon at either the state or the federal level,” an Obama administration official said.
Obama has stood by Attorney General Holder’s decision to move the suspects, including self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York to be tried in federal court. Recent polling on this issue finds the majority of Americans would rather see the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks be tried in military tribunals in a quiet fashion.
White House Deputy Press Secretary, Bill Burton said, while the White House backs Holder’s decision to try the mastermind of 9/11 in federal court, senior administration officials see the writing on the wall and there will most likely be a venue change.
When most American families have cut up their credit cards and tightened their spending habits, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) voted to raise the nations’ debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion.
At last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama called for a spending freeze (albeit it will take place next year after the dicey elections in November) the administration is seeking repentance after they increased spending in budgets this year by double digits.
Another component the President called for was bipartisanship. During the Senate session today Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) put a bipartisan bill forth. The bill would have imposed binding limits on total defense and non-defense discretionary spending for the next four years. Boxer nixed the idea of curtailing Washington’s spending problem.
Less than an hour later, Boxer voted to increase the country’s debt ceiling further sealing her tax and spend ways. According to the Associated Press, “Senate Democrats are counting on their soon-to-expire 60-vote majority to raise the federal debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion so they don’t have to take more politically painful votes on government borrowing until after the fall midterm elections.”
Californians are expected to make Boxer earn their upcoming votes. There are three candidates in the race on the GOP side, Chuck DeVore, Carly Fiorina and Tom Campbell- all are within single digits of Senator Boxer.
“Instead of doing what President Obama called for and ‘tightening their belts,’ Barbara Boxer and Senate Democrats rejected a bipartisan proposal to enact a federal spending freeze and instead raised the government’s debt limit,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson Marchand. “Californians are tired of Barbara Boxer treating their wallets like personal ATM machines, and they will hold her accountable for her out-of-control spending spree when they cast their ballots this November.”
In a press release from Senator McCaskill, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) offered an amendment proposing spending caps. The group of bipartisan Senators are calling it “A rare opportunity to impose budget discipline on Congress.
“As public scrutiny intensifies on Washington’s penchant for spending and borrowing, senators will face a clear choice this week when they consider a measure to legally limit the growth of discretionary spending over the next four years. The proposed spending caps will be considered as an amendment to broader Senate legislation needed to permit the U.S. Treasury to borrow more money,” according to the McCaskill press release.
California’s budget crisis coupled with Washington’s spending habits will certainly be on the voter’s minds in November –the question remains will Boxer be the next Senator sent home due to angry constituents?
In an effort to tackle the growing joblessness plight the U.S. workers face, Congressmen Gary Miller (R-CA) and ranking member, Lamar Smith (R-TX) formed “Reclaim American Jobs Caucus.” In a statement issued today the Congressmen responded to a report commissioned by the Chicago Urban League and Alternative Schools Network.
According to the study, illegal immigration affects lower-skilled citizens and legal immigrants chances to gain employment.
“During the course of the 2007-2009 recession, the employment rate of the nation’s teen[s] feel steeply to 26.2% by October-November 2009, setting new record lows each year. No other age group has experienced employment declines of this magnitude in the current recession,” the report said. “Young adults 20-24 years old in both Illinois and the nation also have been adversely affected by the deterioration in labor market developments in the state and nation in recent years, especially men, Blacks and Hispanics, and non-college graduates.”
Both Congressional members, Smith and Miller, noted that these are often the same Americans who face the most competition for jobs. A slow job market adds competition for jobs and result is more competition from illegal immigrants.
“The fact is that illegal immigrants take jobs from American workers, particularly poor and disadvantaged citizens and legal immigrants. The best outcome for low-skilled citizen and legal immigrant workers is the removal of the illegal immigrant population,” Congressman Smith said.
“The very jobs that illegal immigrants occupy rightfully belong to out of work citizens and legal immigrants. With 15 million Americans out of work, we need to enforce immigration laws and oppose amnesty for 12 million illegal immigrants,” Smith concluded.
The new Congressional caucus will not only focus on solving immigration issues, but stand up for U.S. citizens and legal immigrants rights to secure valid employment.
California has been hit extremely hard with a higher-than- national average unemployment and long lines at the unemployment offices.
“At home in California, almost weekly I hear from my constituents that illegal immigration is exacerbating the unemployment crisis. Today’s report that a record number of young Americans are jobless once again highlights the fact that we must enforce our current immigration laws to ensure illegals do not take away jobs that rightfully belong to American and legal workers,” Congressman Miller explained.
Any push from the Obama Administration to grant amnesty to those in the country illegally will certainly meet with a strong resistance from the millions of unemployed Americans, legal immigrants as well as those who want the current immigration laws enforce.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
A shaky economy, poor job reports and a Washington spending spree have mere mortals in the trenches screaming ‘the sky is falling.’ The fix is in, the American people have read between the lines and realize the ‘saved or created’ fuzzy math when it comes to jobs just isn’t flying.
The only real number an unemployed worker can rely on is the three million jobs that have been shed since the $787 billion stimulus bill was signed into law. Since then jobs have gone away, foreclosures grew and deficits approached the unsustainable title wave status.
Yet party loyalty holds true. According to a new Gallup poll, 88 percent of Democrats approve of the freshman president while only 23 percent of Republicans think Obama has stood up to the challenge.
This translates to a 65-percentage point gap between Republicans and Democrats giving Obama the largest split for any president in his first year, according to Gallup. The last Democrat President Bill Clinton enjoyed a much lower point gap of 52 points.
While Obama still enjoys a high likeability among Americans, 57 percent, the country isn’t looking for a new best friend, they are looking for a leader.
When Obama placed his hand on the bible, his approval rating was among the highest for an incoming president, according to most pollsters. However, the spending spree he endorsed quickly lost American support.
CBS puts Obama’s approval rating at 46 percent, which translates into a big loss of the Independent voting block. And nowhere was that more evident than the recent special elections.
First there was Virginia governor’s race Obama went to help his man – it didn’t go so well, the new Republican Governor Bob McDonnell will be delivering the President’s State Of The Union rebuttal speech. Up next was Obama’s campaign pitch for New Jersey’s incumbent governor- strike two a Republican was elected. And finally the midnight blue state of Massachusetts and former Democratic stalwart Teddy Kennedy’s seat, again Obama stopped by, made his pitch, insulted people who drive pickup trucks and walked away a three-time loser.
It’s settled, President Obama listened to the voters in very blue states and decided to head to the center, roll up his sleeves and work with all legislators to get Americans back to work. Not really.
On Monday, the President sat down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer and said this; “I’d rather be a really good one term President than a mediocre two term president.” He went on to say, “I will not slow down on the big issues we face in the country.”
Looking back to the crisp clear day a year ago at a torn country in need of repair, Obama became the 44th president and he basked in the winter sun explaining his ability to bring a broken nation together. Obama let a world audience know a new era was on the horizon, one that would work equally with its partners, a hand up not a hand out.
However, after a year of apologizing Obama has received very little from its new partners. Defiant leaders from North Korea and Iran moved full speed ahead with the nuclear programs. Saving the planet didn’t go so well either as the biggest polluters China and India gave nothing at the summit in Copenhagen.
President Obama has the lowest one-year field poll since Jimmy Carter. On domestic issues the President has lost some Democrats due to either being too progressive or not progressive enough. Republicans he never had and it is the coveted Independents that have taken their vote of confidence from Obama.
Candidate Obama made lofty promises, no more back room deals, CSPAN will be there shining the light on the process and K Street lobbyist would not be welcomed at the White House. Yet bills making their way to the President are chalked full of pork and CSPAN didn’t make it into the back rooms.
Obama also had his own ‘read my lips’ moment and told the American people he would not raise taxes on the middle class. Yet he rubber-stamped a tax increase on folks who smoke cigarettes. The largest group of voters who smoke are lower- to- middle class, this translates into a tax increase.
And finally he promised a new era of bipartisanship, he would be the guy who would reach across the isle, apparently the Democratic leadership missed that memo.
The net result of Obama’s first year is disillusionment, frustration and disappointment. The longer than usual honeymoon the media offered him is gone, the fainting at the mere sight of ‘the one’ is gone and the goodwill of many Americans has now vanished.
Looking ahead to another challenging year if the President focuses on creating jobs, reducing the deficit and treating terrorists like, you know, terrorists he has a chance to regain the trust of the American people and accomplish a lot while doing so. It remains to been seen which way the President will govern during his second year in power.
Even intergalactic super stars must rely on their job performance and the fix is in, Obama seems to be another smooth politician who captured the hope of many seeking a new era and was only successful in proving politician’s are incapable of disguising the spoils of power.
How quickly he fell.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
The Massachusetts senatorial elections sent waves of uncertainty to many incumbents across the country and California’s Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has watched her poll numbers drop and competitors pull within single digits.
“Any incumbent who polls below 50% at this point in the season is considered potentially vulnerable,” said Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “However, vulnerable incumbents still have the power of their office and still have a decent chance of winning. The Democratic leaning political gravity of California will certainly give Senator Boxer a boost in that effort.”
The longtime Democratic senator runs best right now against State Assemblyman Chuck Devore, beating him by six points, 46 percent to 40 percent. Two months ago, though, Boxer posted a 10-point lead on DeVore.
The fact that Boxer’s support is frozen at 46 percent against all GOP challengers suggest that the race, for now, is about her rather than those running against her. Boxer is viewed very favorably by 25 percent of California voters but very unfavorably by 34 percent.
“Regardless of the outcome this should be a gigantic wake-up call to the Democratic Party – that we’re not connecting with the needs, the aspirations and the desires of real people right now,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in a San Francisco Chronicle story.
However, what happened in Massachusetts doesn’t predict what is going to happen in California in November, said Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski.
Looking back at the Scott Brown win, Kapolczynski believes DeVore’s conservative supporters will be encouraged. “If the national Tea Party movement is engaged that could dramatically change the Republican primary.”
Newsom says the Republican win in Massachusetts suggests “there’s real intensity and fervor out there, as represented by the Tea Party activists expressing anger at government spending and at job losses. This is real. At our own peril, we dismiss these tea parties as some sort of isolated extremism. It’s not.”
Perhaps more importantly, 55 percent of California voters rate the U.S. economy as poor, while just seven percent 7 percent think it’s good or excellent. Golden State voters remain divided when it comes to California’s economic recovery; 36 percent say it’s getter better, while 35 percent say it’s getting worse, according to a Rasmussen poll.
The conservative resurgence springing up the past year has awakened the GOP – moderate Republicans don’t sell, but conservatives do.
In a recent story from Commentary Magazine, J.E. Dyer, makes the argument for DeVore’s Rasmussen poll numbers. “Boxer’s best margin was 46-40 showing against DeVore, but his is the interesting figure; with his name recognition lower than Carly Fiorina (another GOP in the primary) signifies that voters are likely turning away from Boxer.”
Dyer points to the real problem for Boxer is Obama’s falling approval.
“We are encouraged by Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. Some of you may not be aware that DeVore supporters actually had boots on the ground in MA walking precincts and making phone calls,” says Teri Peters a DeVore staffer. “Tweeters for Chuck, have connected with Brown supporters on Twitter and many of them have made commitments to support DeVore for the next big victory. We are building support that we hope spreads across the nation.”
The party of big government that tried (and failed) to pass enormous legislation for health care and cap and trade did so without much support from middle-class America. Most believe the Obama Administration should have been focused on the economy and creating jobs.
“In my view, when people are earning, when their home is secure, when their children are going to school and they’re relatively satisfied with their life, then [when] there’s a problem like health care, they want it solved,” Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said in a Politico story. “It doesn’t threaten them. The size of this bill threatens them, and that’s one of the problems that has to be straightened out.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson Marchand said, “Evidently Dianne Feinstein understands that Massachusetts was a wake-up call for the Democrats, and Feinstein realizes that Californians don’t want a burdensome cap-and-tax bill or massive health care plan that has been crafted behind closed doors. So why has Feinstein’s California colleague, Barbara Boxer, failed to come to this same conclusion?”
Smelling blood in the water, NRSC is ramping up for what appears to be Boxer’s toughest re-election battle of her Senatorial career.
“Californians want Senators who will listen to them – not another partisan rubber stamp for Harry Reid and President Obama’s unpopular agenda in Washington,” Marchand concluded.
The younger generation may not remember the movie Serpico, but for those who do Frank “Paco” Serpico is the original super star when it comes to lamplighting. What in the heck is lamplighting? It is the term Serpico coined to replace the term whistle-blowing.
Lamplighting dates back to the days of Paul Revere when the lamps were lit in the tower warning all the British are coming. It is in that spirit that Serpico renamed whistle blowers to a more positive tone. “Lamplighters are individuals who seek truth and justice, even when confronted with the prospect of great personal loss,” explains a passionate Serpico who took on NYPD corruption.
Nothing fires up the original lamplighter more than talking about the perils those who step up and “do the right thing.” Serpico likens lamplighting to entering the tenements in the Bronx, slipping into a room; turning on the lights and watching the cockroaches scamper into the wood works.
Speaking out against titans in the private industry, like big tobacco, or calling uncle when it comes to wartime government contracts or simply trying to protect the borders from terrorists wishing to do harm to American citizens often means stepping outside the comfort zone.
For Serpico, becoming a law enforcement officer was all he wanted to do. To him
a police officer meant respecting the law and doing what was right. You could say his Italian immigrant family values instilled in him the most important trait for a cop- integrity.
“Given the current situation in America and the world, we are at a unique time in history where it is of paramount importance, perhaps more than ever, to ‘do the right thing,’” Serpico explains.
Speaking about America’s living breathing document, the Constitution, former NYPD tough guy explains that it is the job of each citizen is to distrust government and keep those in power, “in check.”
Shining the spotlight on wrongdoing isn’t just ‘the right thing’ but it must be a mantra. According to Serpico, spending one’s life in the grey-zone of morality is simply unacceptable.
Taking a trip down memory lane, Serpico describes some of the toughest moments he faced was the feeling of isolation, loneliness and the knowing that it’s him against the world. For these reasons and others it is important for lamplighters to seek support from groups like the Government Accountability Organization (GAO), Project On Government Oversight (POGO) as well as Serpico’s new website.
“I get many letters from people all over the country and I can’t read them all, but having a support group with other lamplighter organizations can lend a sounding -board environment to drive away the notion you are alone,” Serpico says.
One of the toughest aspects for those who buck the norm and take on corruption first hand is the fact that management is a big part of the problem. Most lamplighters don’t just make the decision to expose co-worker misdeeds; they really weigh all the pros and cons before walking into the bosses’ office.
Once inside the office, behind closed doors the uncomfortable conversation unfolds, believing that shedding the light on inappropriate actions will eventually lead to changes. However, in most cases it is the lamplighter themselves who is shown the door.
The process then moves along to investigation into the lamplighter’s job performance or results in a transfer to another less important post within the company. Altruistic motives, turn to tampered feelings of discontent- management already knows.
Disappointed doesn’t even describe the feeling I had for police chiefs they just “want you to fade into obscurity,” says Serpico.
Today’s new world order
The conversation with Americas top cop diverts to what America faces today in a world of global politics, domestic issues and war.
“I expected Obama would do ‘the right thing’ and end the war (in the Middle East) instead he escalated it,” Serpico tersely says. “It is clear D.C. is broken and Americans can take a page from the people in Iran.”
Yes, he said Iran and he is referring to the recent uprising in the streets by the young Iranians seeking a new government and who seek equality. “They (politicians) treat us like we don’t have a voice – single we don’t, but together we do.”
Since Serpico is an old law enforcement dog naturally he talks about the Patriot Act. Does is support it, no. Why? “Former Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff wrote the bill before 9/11 and the program is capable of amassing information about Americans and they have no intentions to do the right thing,” Serpico explained.
For example, most Americans believe that the Christmas Day bomber spurred the idea the world needs to place full-body scans in every airport. What they don’t tell you, Serpico points out, “is Chertoff owns the company that manufactures the full body scans. On top of that the scanners will not detect the powder the Christmas Day bomber had in his pants.” Serpico insists it’s all about the almighty dollar.
The big brother status in America riles Serpico to the point where he claims his blog is being monitored and he is unable to practice his first Amendment right without content being taken down. “World domination is in full swing,” he said.
Once the book and movie about his life were finished, Serpico chose to leave America. During Serpico’s decade-long stint in Europe he recalls the FBI seeking to apprehend him in Switzerland. “The FBI and CIA are embedded everywhere.” Like many other Americans, Serpico believes the government’s reach is much too wide.
Through his kaleidoscope vision the Medal of Honor recipient explains people need to wake up to the fact they are being mesmerized by television (this explains the fact he has no TV) and stand up for their God given rights. “If we are all brothers and sisters why are we fighting each other instead of the government.”
Politicians don’t hold too high of esteem in Serpico’s eyes. “Politicians are blood-sucking parasites. It’s all about ego and power, the end result is corruption.”
Cases in point, Serpico writes, “Never before have we, as a nation, stood in greater danger of losing our individual liberties as we are today. We the people of this great nation are being punished for the transgressions of our leaders and their consorts. The leaders, who we have elected or not elected, as the case may be, to safeguard and protect our inalienable rights.”
Can anyone of sound mind dispute these facts? Quoting Michael Parenti, he continued, “Here at home and throughout the world, people are fighting back against the forces of wealth, privilege, and militarism—some because they have no choice, others because they would choose no other course but the one that leads to peace and justice.”
Lamplighting and the future
The conversation eventually circles around to the lamplighting topic where he holds many opinions about the future generations attempt to regain control of their country.
“If this country wants more accountability then they need to honor and praise those who come forward to do the right thing,” Serpico quips. Sensing a pattern, “do the right thing” is a major mantra in Serpico’s life. “Politicians don’t like lamplighters because they are a part of the ‘old boys club.’ They don’t want any changes.”
Serpico was never heralded with a ceremony for his Medal of Honor; he simply picked up the piece of metal and threw it into a drawer. In fact Serpico blames his NYPD Police Commissioner Murphy for putting him into harms way. “He got promoted because of me,” Serpico said.
However, he was asked by Bernie Kerik, former NYPD Commissioner, to attend a ceremony. It is here a story is repeated regarding three cadets who came to Serpico and shook his hand. “The first walks up and says ‘you’re the reason I became a police officer. The second says something similar. And the third shakes his hand, and whispers in Frank’s ear, we need to talk after the ceremony.” This is successful in getting a good chuckle.
Another ardent admirer of Serpico is former NYPD officer Charles Houser. “He was the reason I became a NYPD officer. I even served at the exact precinct and worked in the narcotics division. We share the same opinions because higher ups try to stop others for doing the right thing.”
“When I was an officer at NYPD I went to a disco after work with a fellow officer. However, my co-worker went outside and was snorting cocaine, much to my dismay. He offered some to me and I was shocked. Girls who were in the alley way with him said, ‘Wow, we are snorting cocaine with NYPD.’ I turned him in the next day, but he had a relative working in internal affairs and was eventually promoted instead of reprimanded. My career suffered as a result of the whistle-blowing,” Houser says. Complaints like these often fall on deaf ears.
Serpico is proud to learn about Houser and sends his best to an honest cop he has never met. After years of employment, letters of accommodations for integrity and serving honorably is easy to see why Serpico is quick to support a fellow officer. “Not all the NYPD cops are corrupt, but in my opinion they still have a lot of work to do,” Serpico critically states.
Serpico-the untold stories
Another aspect to Serpico’s new found activism is constantly pushing forward. He currently has a television series in development called “Serpico– The Untold Stories.”
The producer of the series is excited and honored to work with a true American hero. “Frank ‘Paco’ Serpico, a NYPD Medal of Honor recipient represents the finest in humanity as a dedicated police officer that forever changed New York politics and the NYPD,” explains BJ Davis a veteran Hollywood producer and director of the Serpico the Untold Stories.
“Today, he is just as committed to insuring the rights and equal protection of U.S. citizens as well as the rank-and-file law enforcement officers. It is an honor to partner with him to bring, “Serpico – The Untold Stories”, hosted by Frank Serpico to the American public and giving a voice to Lamplighters (whistleblowers) who have been retaliated against for doing their job. ‘Serpico’ will be previewed at the 2010 NATPE convention in Las Vegas to buyers, written by Frank Serpico and National Whistleblower, VP of LEOAC, former CBP Officer Julia Davis as production begins.”
In an effort to place the spotlight on the unsung heroes who place their lives on the line only to be retaliated against for doing the right thing, the television series will look at different lamplighters every week. “We hope to shine a positive light onto those who come forward,” Serpico said.
The former NYPD tough guy has many admirers around the country. “Frank Serpico was brave, courageous and bold. Long live his name, long live his glory and long may his story be told,” says John Herbert a Serpico fan.
Bottom line for Serpico remains, “We (officers) need to remember the oath we took and not betray it. However, that becomes difficult as police departments are like a fraternity, just as the medical profession and government agencies. It’s a club and they expect you to play by their rules.”
However, the public is not privy to their rules according to Serpico. There is a certain trust between law enforcement officers because they are placed in many life-threatening instances where one needs to place ultimate trust with partners.
This is where it went terribly wrong for Serpico, he placed his trust in fellow officers and they nearly let him die in the line of duty. He explains that it is hard to talk about the last moments of his NYPD career, because it led to being shot in the face by a criminal and his fellow partners did nothing to back him up, not even call for an ambulance.
“It was a pretty low moment and I have nightmares to this day,” Serpico says. “God made heaven and man made hell.”
Like most lamplighters, Serpico would do it again. “But I’m lucky I don’t have to because there are a lot of great people out there to pass the torch to.”
This is part four in a series.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
A bipartisan group of freshmen Congressmen joined Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to introduce legislation that outlines several guiding principles for comprehensive immigration reform.
The freshmen lawmakers are proving they are listening to what the voters are telling them, smaller government, fewer taxes, shoring up the borders and looking at immigration issues sensibly. Off the table is amnesty for those who are in this country illegally.
“Our national and economic security continues to be threatened by our porous borders and the inconsistent enforcement of existing immigration laws,” said Congressman Hunter whose district is near the U.S./Mexican border. “The immigration reform debate must not be dictated by misguided calls for open borders and amnesty. The American people expect security to be a priority and immigration laws to be thoroughly enforced in our communities and the workplace. This resolution emphasizes these principles as the basis for any immigration reform measure that might move forward.”
The Bipartisan Reform of Immigration through Defining Good Enforcement (“BRIDGE”), H.R. 1026, Resolution was introduced by Congressmen Hunter, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Frank Kratovil (D-MD), Glenn Nye (D-VA) as well as 18 other House members and hopes to change the immigration debate as the 2010 Congressional session unfolds.
The immigration BRIDGE Resolution states that Congress make E-Verify mandatory for all employers and hold employees accountable as well; Provide sufficient border infrastructure and manpower to secure and control our borders; Reject amnesty or any legal status that grants citizenship to those living in the U.S. in violation of current law.
The measure’s primary sponsor, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, explained that, “Our government has a duty and responsibility to make our first immigration priority the enforcement of existing immigration laws by ensuring that illegal behavior is punished, not rewarded. Any discussion of comprehensive immigration reform must begin with a renewed commitment to enforce our immigration laws. We need to remove the incentives that encourage illegal behavior if we expect to get immigration under control.”
Senior Ranking House member Lamar Smith (R-TX) agrees, the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee said, “I support the resolution introduced today by my colleagues. Making E-Verify mandatory, securing our borders and rejecting amnesty are some of the keys to reclaiming jobs for American workers and upholding the rule of law.”
With the votes cast in Massachusetts, it’s quite clear Americans are fed up with business as usual, partisan politics and the idea that Washington D.C. knows more about what families need succeed. If citizens have to follow the laws of the country, so should those who hope to immigrate to America and add to its rich diversity.
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As a young girl Darlene Fitzgerald bucked the ‘norm’ when it came to the way she envisioned life. Her father encouraged her to be whatever she wanted to be. Fitzgerald’s quest into the world of boys started early, she wanted to play baseball with the boys when it was unthinkable; it would mark the start of her trailblazing ways something that has not fallen by the wayside.
Fitzgerald took on a fight against major corruption, put her life on the line for her country and ran up against a brick wall with Customs and Border Protection. This happened because there was no whistle blower protection for federal government employees and the military – the folks on the front lines of national security. Now she is taking that fight, and my fight against crony campaign financing to Capitol Hill.
Her story with CBP began by following the rules and firmly believing her supervisors would stand by her when she reported any wrong-doing by other CBP agents. Fitzgerald was wrong. In a long line of government cover-ups and corruption Fitzgerald’s no nonsense attitude was put to the test.
The country she loved and protected with everything she had turned on her. Her lamp lighting (whistle blowing) resulted in her career being stripped from her. But like her stubborn childhood tenacity, Fitzgerald picked herself up, wrote a book (BorderGate) and is now running for the United States Senate in Kentucky. Her new mission is to change the way Washington does business. Those who bet against Fitzgerald making it to D.C. don’t know how determined she really is.
The following is her accounting on the CBP, DHS and Washington-style politics, and why these agencies are wrong for America and what exactly has to change.
“Immediately following the terror attempt aboard the aircraft, Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano announced: “The system worked.” The suspect was able to bring explosives on board a flight from Europe to the U.S. and only failed in his “mission” because his bomb didn’t explode, but “the system worked.” Really? This is a clear failure not only of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but also of the entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of which TSA is a component.
These agencies have long been suffering from incompetent management. The promotion system in these agencies is the “good old boy” crony club. The ‘”best and the brightest” are rarely promoted into management positions. When better-qualified agents/inspectors dare to file any type of legitimate complaint or grievance in an attempt to solve this problem, they are immediately silenced- usually with a phony investigation by the Internal Affairs Department (IA). The retaliation for anyone in these federal agencies who dare to speak truth to power is swift and painful. I know this firsthand.
Moreover, if an agent/inspector observes any behavior from his/her superiors that would cause a breach in our national security, they risk their careers if they dare to report their managers, even though DHS regulations and some federal laws require them to do so. There are thousands of government whistle blowers who have repeatedly given spine-shivering testimony about the gaping holes in our national security to both houses of Congress. I have testified before them in Washington myself. The whistle blowers are neutralized and nothing gets fixed. This happens because there is no real whistle blower protection for federal government employees or the military on the front lines of our national security.
Two of the best government watchdog organizations on Capitol Hill are the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and the Project on Government Over-site (POGO). Both have been trying for years to get real whistle blower protection to no avail. Until agencies like DHS and TSA are no longer allowed to investigate themselves and use IA as the “goon squad” on folks who try to file legitimate complaints, we all remain at risk.
I believe these agencies and others do not have the manpower or the assets to really accomplish their missions. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on Iraq and Afghanistan trying to fight a tactic -terrorism. You cannot wage a war against a tactic. While we have focused on military plans since 9-11, we are bleeding money away from greater investments in intelligence, improving infrastructure, and law enforcement techniques.
Most of the actual Al Qaeda terrorists who have been caught and brought to justice have been apprehended through the use of interagency intelligence such as Interpol and cooperative law enforcement and not “boots on the ground” military. The regular military (army and marines) were not trained to conduct an intelligence gathering manhunt. They are very good at what they are trained for, but it is not this.
Had our elected officials on Capitol Hill listened to the countless government employee and military whistle blowers over the last 20 years, and had placed into effect even a few of the recommendations from GAP and POGO, maybe 9-11 wouldn’t have happened. Hindsight is 20-20, but they’re still not listening. Many counterterrorism experts and top military officials agree that we are not making any real progress in our fight against Al Qaeda by escalating the war in Afghanistan.
‘Make wars unprofitable and you make them impossible,’ Franklin D. Roosevelt said. There are a lot of big corporations making tons of money off of these two wars. Not coincidentally, they are also large contributors to the campaigns of our elected officials on Capitol Hill. This places many in government in a terrible bind and it is not unfair to ask if some of our elected officials are voting the interests of the funders of their campaigns in the name of national security. If we don’t fix crony campaign financing, none of the above will ever get fixed. It’s time the people take back their government from those who own it now.
The legal bribery of lobbying is the disease. The rest (wars, threats to national security, substandard education, substandard healthcare) are merely symptoms that will never be cured until we turn our legislatures back to a system of governing, and not a system of quid pro quo.”
Fitzgerald’s words represent the way many Americans feel today and nowhere was that heard louder than Massachusetts with the election of an Independent/Republican in the heart of a navy-blue state. The citizens of this country are waking up to the issues in front of them and are questioning the elected officials ability to represent “We the People.”
The fact that Fitzgerald’s Senate opponents will no longer debate her says it all- politics as usual won’t cut it any longer. Her platform is simple, get back to basics and clean up Washington D.C. “We need to put the people first,” she said. “We need to protect our whistle blowers so we can root out crony corruption.”
Marthena Cowart, the director of communications for Project on Government Oversight says it best; “The courageous men and woman throughout the federal government who report misconduct and criminality in their workplace are, more often than not, punished instead of rewarded for upholding the oath they take when they join the government. POGO is urging Congress to pass the Whistleblower Protection Act which will, for the first time, grant jury trail access to all federal whistleblowers.”
Sandra Nunn – CBP bullying tactics
In 1988 Sandra Nunn became a Special Agent with the U.S. Customs Service Office of Investigations in the Los Angeles area, like most before her she felt that she was part of an honorable organization with the highest level of integrity. Words like honored and pride were associated with being a Special Agent. During the past 10 years, Nunn served with integrity and professionalism befitting her position as a federal agent, never once shirking or abusing her position.
Nunn investigated international money laundering cases that made national headlines and were featured in TIME and Business Week. “As the case agent I was involved with the illegal smuggling activity via the Southern U.S. border that included tons of illicit narcotics.” As a key undercover operative with this particular investigation, Nunn found more than 1000 fully automatic AK-47’s.
She also served as a diplomatic representative and key investigator with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on two European tours of duty during the UN sanctions against Serbia, casework which included narcotics smuggling, money laundering, espionage, counterterrorism, arms trafficking, and national security.
Nevertheless, beginning in 1997, her career began experiencing retaliation when she chose to step forward and back-up allegations made by a fellow agent of misconduct within the CBP agency by management officials. “My support of fellow agent, Darlene Fitzgerald, by telling the truth in what at the time initially was an EEO related matter, I along with Ms. Fitzgerald, became the unwitting victims of egregious retaliatory acts perpetrated by our management as well as the Office of Internal Affairs in a concerted effort to silence and discredit us,” Nunn explains. Both agents were put under investigation, their work was heavily scrutinized in an effort to intimidate and upset them.
The threats did not end with the two female agents. Another agent who spoke out against the retaliation found two surveillance cameras pointed directly at his personal residence where he along with his family lived.
Despite all the CBP shenanigans, Agent Fitzgerald continued her work with major narcotics trafficking investigation that culminated in the seizure of more than 8,000 pounds of narcotics. Information was developed from this seizure in conjunction with an informant-based situation and it resulted in Fitzgerald locating five railway tanker cars that had entered the country. A fraudulent Customs Manifest tipped Fitzgerald and would lead her to the subsequent weigh-in of each of these respective tanker cars at the Colton Rail Yard demonstrated that these allegedly empty pressurized railway tanker cars were between 25-40 tons overweight illustrating the rail cars were potentially carrying contraband of some kind.
Yet, when both Ms. Fitzgerald and Senior Special Agent Robert Mattivi approached Customs Resident Agent in Charge Gary Pinkava to get permission to perform a simple pressure test at no cost to the Government and no extra manpower, Mr. Pinkava ordered both Fitzgerald and Mattivi not to do their job and not to return to the rail yard. Shortly thereafter, it was learned that the suspect tanker cars had disappeared into the commerce of the United States never to be seen again.
Concerns regarding national security are in play with this incident. To this day the rail cars have not been found and what exactly was in the missing tanker cars. Was it narcotics? Or was it weapons of mass destruction, biological agents, guns, or ammonium nitrate? “We don’t know. We will never know. And the fact that Mr. Pinkava, a high-level management official for the U.S. Customs Service, knowingly and purposefully did this demonstrates the level of explicit misconduct inherent within the U.S. Customs Service,” Nunn said. “What is also disturbing to me is that Mr. Pinkava, even after admitting on the record in federal court that all of this happened exactly as we claimed he has never been investigated, reprimanded or demoted for his illegal conduct.”
This incident becomes a clear example of screw up, move up practices the DHS and CBP continue to employ using their crony-style politics. Instead of punishing Agent Pinkava, he has been allowed to continue in his fully paid full-time position and was promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC).
“How many other managers like this are jeopardizing our national security and not being held accountable? One must seriously ponder this question. Because knowing what I know and seeing what I’ve seen, it scares me to death that even one instance of this can happen,” Nunn finished.
But, it doesn’t end there. “I was forced to resign my position in protest due to the ongoing retaliation. I suffered bankruptcy and lost my retirement. Additionally, both Ms. Fitzgerald and I, are both highly educated women, were time and time again denied employment opportunities,” according to Nunn.
Nunn didn’t ask to become a whistle blower. But, when she witnessed what she did, it forced her to make a choice- shut up and look the other way or stand up for what’s right. “I did not shrink back from my duties, but stood up and told the truth as any patriot would.”
A logical question many ask lamp lighters is ‘If you could do everything over again, knowing what would happen to you, would you do it again?’ Her response was; “Absolutely, because it was the right thing to do.”
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Courageous individuals who take the road less traveled often reach the end of the road with well-worn shoes, tattered clothing for the thankless actions and peace of mind knowing they accomplished something bigger than themselves.
When Dr. Jeffery Wigand began his career in the medical research industry he never thought his scientific research would send tsunami-like waves throughout the lucrative tobacco industry. Dr. Wigand did just that when he took the leap of faith to right the wrongs being perpetrated by the greedy tobacco companies.
Dr. Wigand started his scientific research career in the tobacco industry with Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation (B&W) the third largest tobacco company. The $300,000 salary secured him a slot as the vice president of Research and Development. With his health care background and impressive degrees, MA, Ph.D., MAT, Sc.D, Wigand set out to establish a new life and earn a respectable living for his young family.
It’s clear that Dr. Wigand wanted to change they way people refer to whistle blowers. “I would like to suggest that we start using the tern “Persons of Conscience (POC)” rather than the pejorative term “whistle blower” because of all its negative connotations, such as tattle tale, snitch, rat-fink, disloyal, etc. A POC sees a greater good worthy of praise and honor and therefore not to be demeaned for noble actions.”
He continues, “Persons of Consciences step forward, often in harms way to right a wrong for the betterment of all citizens of the universe and fulfill the categorical imperative and negate the “bystander” status.”
Dr Wigand is humbled by his experience with big tobacco. “I am honored that people think I am a hero but I do not accept that moniker as others are much more deserving of it. I did what was right, I have no regrets and would do it again. As you see we are ordinary people placed in some extraordinary situations and did the right thing as all should do.”
Clearly a man with a mission
He began is work at B&W on the development of an engineered tobacco product, code-named Airbus, the cigarette had less “biological activity” – industry speak for a nicotine-delivery device that causes less disease.
It is through his prism that he shares his chosen and a few of the many observations and experiences that highlight the behavior of this company- and its total disregard for public health and safety. By putting profits and sales over health concerns and truth, B&W sealed their fate by hiring the young up-and-coming scientist.
The tobacco company clearly articulated the internal mantra: “We are in the nicotine-delivery business, and tar is the negative baggage.” In other words, nicotine is addictive and pharmacologically active and there is a possibility that a product could be safer but never safe.
The company’s extensive use of this technology, which is called ammonia chemistry, allows for nicotine to be more rapidly absorbed in the lung and therefore affect the brain and central nervous system.
It would be a Vancouver meeting that uncovered some bad news regarding cigarettes that would reach senior executives of B&W, the notes clearly distressed management. “We had articulated the antithesis of the external mantra, which was; “Nicotine was there for taste and not addictive and tobacco products could be made safer in many ways, from less biologically active to fire-safe.”
As a result of this meeting a system of sequestering and vetting controversial documents generated by any of the operating companies was ordered and put into place to protect the tobacco company. In addition, all safer-cigarette work was terminated and all further work on that project was transferred overseas, along with the documents. This would end Dr. Wigand’s hope to produce a safer tobacco product and begin the cover up of “if we hook `em young, we hook `em for life.”
“I did my best not to rock the boat until August of 1992, when I received a draft copy of a National Toxicology Program report exposing one of the additives used by the company as carcinogenic,” Dr. Wigand explained. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me and really put me in trouble. The compound called coumarin would seal the deal.”
Dr Wigand explained that coumarin is a flavoring that provides a sweet taste to tobacco products, but it is also known to cause tumors in the livers of mice. It was removed from B&W cigarettes, but according to documents, B&W continued to use it in its Sir Walter Raleigh aromatic pipe tobacco until at least 1992.
“There are times I wish I hadn’t done it (went public). But there were times that I feel compelled to do it. If you asked me if I would do it again or if I think it’s worth it? Yeah. I think it’s worth it. I think in the end people will see the truth,” Dr Wigand explains his logic behind stepping into the media spotlight and testifying regarding to dangers of the tobacco industry.
There was another report generated by independent researchers, as part of a national toxic safety program, it presented evidence that coumarin is a carcinogen that causes various harmful cancers.
In fact, many tobacco products are laced with more than 600 intentionally added chemical additives that are put into the tobacco and waste tobacco-derived materials in order to lessen the harshness generated when burning a bioorganic material. This bioorganic material that tobacco generates also uses over 5,000 toxic chemical pyrolysis compounds. These combustion type chemicals are so toxic you cannot bury them in solid-waste disposal areas, according to Dr. Wigand.
Tobacco critics often compare the dangers of tobacco products to the use of hard drugs. For example, critics point to the fact that tobacco kills more people in the U.S. than hard drugs. This is directly opposite to what the big tobacco companies were saying under oath in April of 1994. The seven chief executive officers of all the major U.S. tobacco companies appeared in Congress and stated that nicotine was not addictive and that nicotine was there for taste therefore smoking was no more dangerous to your health than eating Twinkies. This was a blatant lie.
“While employed with B&W, I began to share my negative knowledge with the FDA. I did it with the agreement that I would have a completely anonymous working relationship. I would travel to the FDA offices in Rockville, Maryland, under assumed names going through unmarked entrances,” Dr. Wigand explained.
Meanwhile there were other reports floating around the tobacco industry like “The Cigarette Papers.” A Dr. Glantz shared these 1950-through-1980s documents with Dr. Wigand. “These documents mirrored my exact experiences from 1989 through 1993 at B&W as well as provided me the first opportunity to see data I never saw while at B&W. This was the final and culminating step in my journey to an epiphany.”
August of 1995 would begin Dr. Wigand’s relationship with famous television program CBS ‘60 Minutes.’
“I needed to set my moral compass back on a true heading,” he said.
Somehow B&W learned of the interview and threatened CBS with a lawsuit based on tortuous interference, something that could be worth billions in damages. Dr Wigand was devastated to learn his interview would be withheld from the 60 Minutes original program.
However, by October, the transcript of the interview was leaked to the New York media. “Bedlam hit Louisville when the story hit the streets. I was sued for ex parte for theft of trade secrets, violation of my confidentiality agreement and restrained from discussing tobacco, lost my freedom of speech and First Amendment rights.”
At this point CBS provided the Wigand’s with 24/7 physical security by former secret service agents. “They lived with us every minute, checked and opened the daily mail, started the car in the morning, followed me to school, where I was teaching high school chemistry, biology, physical sciences, and Japanese, to check my class room, escorted my two daughters to school, play, and so forth. Ultimately, the school was forced to place physical security at my classroom door due to the recurrent daily threats. Not a fun time,” says Dr. Wigand.
Also during this time Mississippi lawmakers were looking into the ills of tobacco and were seeking retribution for all the medical costs related to the tobacco industry. They approached Dr. Wigand about testifying in court. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that his deposition could go forward but ordered it “sealed.” Concurrently, B&W went to the Kentucky Supreme Court and obtained a contempt order against Dr. Wigand should he testify in Mississippi’s afternoon court session.
It was decision time for Dr. Wigand and after reflecting on the issues, he decided to go forward because he had already paid the price. “I would most likely never get the opportunity to do it (testify) again. B&W would tie me up in court for an eternity. I decided to go forward and have never looked back since that day. The deposition in the Chancery Court Hose was a fiasco. The tobacco industry lawyers were as abundant as sand on the beach and adamant in their efforts to prevent the proceeding from going forward with threats and constant verbal interruptions,” Dr. Wigand explained.
The turning point for many things in the war on tobacco began in 1996 when the sealed deposition from Mississippi found its way to the Wall Street Journal.
After that B&W spent millions for a smear campaign by using private investigators, a publicist and large law firms. Luckily for Dr. Wigand it did not succeed in discrediting him in the court of public opinion because the Wall Street Journal refused to print a story without assessing the validity of the accusations.
On the other hand, the local paper in Louisville published the B&W orchestrated smear campaign without investigating any of the allegations. Adding fuel to the fire, someone managed to put a live bullet in his mailbox and threatened his daughters- despite having two armed-security personnel on duty.
The ordeal culminated with a divorce notification from his wife of ten years on their 10th wedding anniversary. Not much more could happen. “It was not what I expected and it is the most disappointing aspect of this whole journey,” Dr. Wigand said.
“B&W’s lawsuit against me ended in June of 1997. Since that date, I have been free to speak my mind as to how the industry steals our children at an early age and how the industry knowingly markets a product that kills when used as intended.”
The journey into the spotlight ended with a major motion picture “The Insider” that starred Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Although it marked the beginning of the end for Dr. Wigand’s voyage of sharing the evils of the tobacco industry with the world, it would mark a new beginning on his quest to ensure children steer clear of the highly-addictive drug called tobacco.
The blockbuster movie was about the truth; will and can big tobacco use its might to intimidate the guardians of free press? That is the chilling relevant take-away message from the film, one that can transcend the passage of time.
Dr. Wigand leaves with a relevant quotation from J.F. Kennedy; “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of these acts, will be written the history of this generation.”
Mission of the Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has been around for 30 years and while the decades may have focused on different red herrings throughout the country the nonprofit public interest group’s mission has remained steadfast. The GAP organization promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistle blowers and empowering citizen activists.
“We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety and Federal Employee/National Security programs,” according to a company website. “GAP is the nation’s leading whistle blower protection organization.”
Another organization offering support to those who decide to pursue the lamp lighting method to shine the spotlight on private and government wrong-doing is the National Whistleblower Center. They have supported Americans who are willing to step outside the company line in order to ensure wrongs are righted since 1988.
Their attorneys have been associated with it and supported whistle blowers in the courts and before Congress. They have achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety, government and corporate accountability.
In addition to defending the jobs and careers of a number of lamp lighters, NWC’s victories include the following: National Whistleblowers Center using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel government agencies to release hundreds of thousands of pages of information documenting government misconduct; Exposing misconduct at the World Trade Center and the 9/11 crime scenes, including theft by FBI agents and the mishandling of evidence.
NWC has been successful in documenting deficiencies in the FBI’s counterterrorism program, requiring the FBI to create whistle blower protection for FBI agents (the first time in U.S. history).
The organization has worked closely with Congress to ensure passage of critical whistle blower protection laws, such as the No-Fear Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Corporate Whistleblower Protection Act and the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act.
Other issues tackled by NWC include prevention of federal agencies from gagging employee free speech critical of agency policies, banning “hush money” payments for all environmental and nuclear federal safety cases and the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars for the United States taxpayers from corrupt government contractors.
Working with employees the NWC forced the Department of Justice to review thousands of criminal convictions resulting in the release of innocent defendants from prison, exposed the illegal no-bid contract between Halliburton and the Army Corps of Engineers for the reconstruction of Iraq after the 2003 invasion and subsequent war.
By establishing numerous legal precedents to strengthen whistle blower protections for public and private sector employees NWC increased rights of lamp lighters, including expanding the scope of protected whistle blower speech, enjoining government regulations which restricted whistle blowing and expanding the use of the Privacy Act to prevent the government from smearing its critics.
For those who take the journey into the spotlight they can expect whistle blower retaliation. This unacceptable behavior takes on different shapes and forms, including; denial of rights and benefits, isolation by peers, demotion, loss of promotion, libel, slander, defamation of character, cut in pay, public scrutiny, privacy violations, blown cover (for under-cover agents or informants), job termination, harassment, stress, death threats, baseless investigations, malicious prosecutions and attempts on the whistle blower’s life (like Frank Serpico).
The “lamp lighter” needs to keep in mind retaliation is prohibited by law which states, “A federal employee authorized to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action may not take, fail to take, or threaten to take any personnel action against an employee because of protected whistle blowing.”
While there is a long way to go in this country regarding the treatment of courageous citizens who step out on that ledge and risk it all in the name of right verses wrong, with the support of whistle blower organizations the road is a little more traveled and can be easier for defenders of truth to reach the finish line.
This is part two of a week long series.
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When one thinks of the term whistle blower, most think about Frank Serpico of NYPD fame. Serpico’s tough, gritty persona allowed him to turn the tables on corrupt cops and his no nonsense, take no prisoners attitude forced the NYPD to take a good hard look at the way they conducted police business. His harrowing “Lamp Lighting” story eventually became a Hollywood major motion picture starring Al Pacino, another Hollywood tough guy.
Whistle blowers or “lamp lighters” as Serpico refers to them as often to do not make the big screen, but their stories are just as compelling and very hard to read about. Julia Davis’ experience is one such story; Blackhawk helicopters, sneak and peeks, eaves dropping, multiple agents tailing her every move and finally two false arrests.
It seems unimaginable for someone who emigrated from Communist Ukraine hoping to leave behind the corruption and make a fresh start in America would experience such a plight. Little did she know her journey to the U.S. would be meet with the same Draconian government policies Davis thought she was leaving behind. Davis made the trip to America with the hopes of becoming a special agent in the FBI. After she completed her college education in Russia’s equivalent of the NASA program, Davis packed her bags with stars and stripes in her eyes.
Her enthusiasm wouldn’t last too long, the FBI informed her she would have to get her start in law enforcement with another agency, get a few years under her belt and reapply. She did just that and settled on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. Meanwhile, she continued prepping for her dream job that would take her to Quantico, Virginia. She attended an accelerated foreign language class in Farsi because after 9/11 the FBI was looking for candidates who spoke the Middle Eastern language. (Davis is fluent in five languages)
Julia Davis’ CBP nightmare
Davis is a former Customs and Border Protection Officer, who was born in Kiev, Ukraine, educated as an Aviation/Spacecraft Engineer with a Masters degree, who speaks several languages fluently. Davis’ inquisitive mind and lifelong interest in the criminal justice system prompted her to apply for federal employment. She scored 100 percent on her tests to become a federal agent with the Department of Homeland Security and received an offer of employment with Department of Homeland Security as a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent.
As an immigrant herself, Davis sought her American dream by striving to serve her new country. In early 2002, Davis graduated with honors from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, receiving an Outstanding Achievement Award. She reported to her duty station at the San Ysidro, CA Port of Entry in San Diego and quickly learned her new job. She built good relationships with coworkers, received outstanding performance reviews and started to move up the ranks within CBP.
But her American dream was shattered when she reported a series of ongoing national security breaches pertaining to deficient processing and subsequent entry of subjects from countries with terrorist ties, into the United States, as well as her concern over the removal of metal detectors and X-ray equipment from the Port inspection areas and the reduction in the security staff.
Davis noted that she found these developments “alarming and disturbing” given the “very high-security level and risk” involved at one of the busiest and largest points of entry into the country. Not wanting to let this go she filed a report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force about another potential security breach at the Port. She noting that an unusually high number of individuals from suspect, or “Special Interest Countries” entered the United States over a ten-hour period on a national holiday, known to be a potential entry time for terrorists.
The memo was given to CBP employees as specific Intelligence alerts that were issued, designating 4th of July a “date to watch,” specifically stating in the intelligence dissemination Muster Agenda: “It has been purported that al-Qaeda leaders may infiltrate the United States borders via Mexico possibly during significant holidays or anniversaries.”
Davis noted that she raised the issue with the Port Director and was told to contact the Intelligence Unit Office. However, in what appeared to be a further breach of security, there was not a single Intelligence officer on duty in the Intelligence Unit despite the heightened risk of entry of terrorists over the summer holiday. This failure and deficiency was pointed out by Davis and directly reflected on the Office of Professional Responsibility within the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
It would be the same agents that should have been on duty to handle this matter and whose absence was called out by Davis in her report to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which included ICE/OPR Agents Jeffrey Deal and Herbert Kaufer. Her whistle-blowing activities garnered media attention and embarrassed the DHS. Former CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner was approached by a Los Angeles Times reporter with respect to Davis’ report to the FBI/JTTF.
The Agency responded by subjecting her to multiple investigations (as many as 19 during her employment and over 34 after she involuntarily resigned from the CBP agency), aircraft, land and vehicular surveillance and referred to her as a “Domestic Terrorist,” raided her house with a Blackhawk helicopter and a Special Response Team (with a total of at least 28 armed agents involved in that operation). This caused Davis and her husband, BJ , to be maliciously prosecuted, falsely imprisoned (twice) and actively interfered with her potential employment.
The Davis’ found that these actions were spearheaded by the same ICE/OPR personnel that were embarrassed by Davis’ report to the FBI/JTTF and media scrutiny that followed.
All criminal charges against Davis and her husband were dismissed, including a finding of factual innocence. Additionally, the court ordered the government to return all items taken in the two warrantless searches of the Davis’ residence and office.
To date, the CBP agency has not complied with that court order. The government’s attack on Davis, following her reports of national security lapses at the Port of San Ysidro, was clearly motivated by the government’s desire to chill Davis’ free speech and to incapacitate her at any cost before she could do any more damage to the reputation of her former employer.
It was also undoubtedly meant to improperly deter other officers from coming forward with allegations of discrimination or whistle-blowing disclosures. In light of the years of false allegations the Davis’ brought a lawsuit against the United States, ICE/OPR Agent Kaufer and CBP/OPR Agent Deal for their misconduct, abuse of government resources and selective prosecutions. The trial is currently scheduled to take place in March of 2010.
Past whistle blower laws
In the United States, legal protection for whistle blowers varies depending on the subject matter and the legal jurisdiction. The first U.S. law adopted specifically to protect whistle blowers was the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912, which guaranteed the right of federal employees to furnish information to Congress. Victims of whistle blower retaliation have to be aware of the deadlines and means for filing proper complaints. Examples of the deadlines involved are as follows:
10 days – The time limit for Arizona State Employees and Ohio public employees;
30 days – The time limit for environmental whistle blowers to make a written complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA].
45 days – The time limit for federal employees to file a complaint of discrimination, retaliation or other violations of their civil rights laws with their agency’s equal employment opportunity (EEO) officer.
90 days – The time limit for airline workers and corporate fraud whistle blowers to make their complaint to OSHA.
180 days – The time limit for nuclear whistle blowers and truck drivers to make complaints to OSHA and for victims of retaliation against union organizing and other concerted activities to improve working conditions to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
According to Project On Government Oversight (POGO), the Whistle blower Protection Act (WPA) has “suffered from a series of crippling judicial rulings [that] have rendered the Act useless, producing a dismal record of failure for whistle blowers and making the law a black hole.” Thomas Devine, one of the WPA’s key advocates stated: “My baby turned out to be Frankenstein.”
During the entire Bush administration, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) ruled in favor of whistle blowers in only two cases. Since 1994, Federal whistle blowers have lost more than 98.5 percent of cases at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) offered praise for two MSPB appointments by President Obama. Unlike the Bush administration appointees who compiled a 1-44 track record against whistle blowers, these leaders are seasoned veterans with a proven track record of commitment to the merit system throughout their careers.
Last year, June of 2009, Washington, D.C. issued a MSPB ruling in Robert J. MacLean v. Department of Homeland Security Agency. MacLean blew the whistle on the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Agency (TSA) plan to improperly remove U.S. Air Marshals from long distance flights during a heightened terrorist alert.
MacLean was concerned that the TSA’s plan posed a serious threat to public health and safety. After MacLean’s internal warnings were ignored, he made a public disclosure that was protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) subsequently fired MacLean in flagrant violation of the law. The MSPB declined to review this retroactive relabeling and upheld MacLean’s termination.
Agencies through the country continue to work with whistle blowers or lamp lighters across the country for the brave actions of everyday Americans in reporting wrong doing by governmental or law enforcement agencies. One such group is the Law Enforcement Advocates Council. Davis is determined to help other government whistle blowers and recently joined the Board of Directors for the (LEOAC) as a Vice President.
“I am most humbled that we were able to add former CBPO Julia Davis to our board as a Vice President. Julia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a former law enforcement officer, entrepreneur, writer, producer, and scientist. We share a vision for what needs to be done to improve the security of America, and improve the the protections and civil rights of our law enforcement officers, especially whistle blowers who just want to do their job and protect our nation,” said founder Andy Ramirez.
“I first learned of her case about two years ago, and included it as a key aspect of my report, Unjustifiable & Impeachable, which addressed DOJ, DHS, and the Courts. Anyone who is not familiar with Julia’s story needs to take the time to learn her story as her case demonstrates everything wrong with how our government abuses their powers to cover-up their security compromises. Our government failed Julia and has given her their worst. She, being a person of high integrity and honor, has stood tall in the finest traditions of America’s best and brightest. In my opinion, her case should be textbook reading for all law enforcement officers who will learn from a heroic and courageous patriot.
Julia brings a fresh perspective to our board, especially given her incredible life story having been born behind the Iron Curtain. She knows what governments can do to a society’s citizens firsthand. I know she will do all she can to help restore the rule of law, a sense of justice, and fair play, which is a hallmark of America. We share the goal of ensuring that officers can do their job without the fear of false charges being brought against a citizen as a form of retaliation and retribution, or political intrigue, or to cover up a crime and gross incompetence,” Ramirez finished.