Interview with National Security Whistleblowers Coalition President Sibel Edmonds
In the first instalment we had a quick overview of the Dirty Dozen campaign, and we looked at three specific whistleblower cases. In the 2nd instalment, we discussed the NSWBC's frustrated efforts to get congress to investigate some egregious crimes, and we took an eye-opening look at the NSWBC's efforts to get some whistleblower protection passed in congress. In this final instalment, we take a closer look at how the Dirty Dozen list was compiled, and we go through the Dirty Dozen list and document the atrocities for each of them.
The Dirty Dozen list is as follows (in alphabetical order)
- Senator Hillary Clinton
- Senator Mike DeWine
- Rep. David Dreier
- Rep. Dennis Hastert
- Senator Orrin Hatch
- Rep. Peter Hoekstra
- Senator Jon Kyl
- Senator Joseph Lieberman
- Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger
- Senator Rick Santorum
- Rep. James Sensenbrenner
- Rep. Mark Souder
Can you guess which of the Dirty Dozen is a nutcase? pathetic? a weasel? a scumbag politician? a fascist? a dangerous moron? an idiot? Read on for the answers.
As I mentioned in Part One of the interview, there are four reasons why people made the Dirty Dozen list:
1) If they have specifically let whistleblowers down
2) If they are powerful in the relevant committees
3) If they are visible
4) If they are up for election
Apparently there wasn't much doubt about who ought to be on the list:SE: Here's the thing - we have 84 whistleblowers who voted on the Dirty Dozen list - tri-partisan - and the list was virtually unanimous - based on their records, and the trials and all of our experience we have had with Congress - it's based on their stance, the dealings we have had with each of them - both the specific whistleblowers cases and also general issues.
The Dirty Dozen list was unamimous, despite the strong competition:SE: This Dirty Dozen list could have easily been 60 or 70 people - unfortunately. It's a sad reflection on how bad things are in Congress. We had to limit the list to a number that we could manage, so we decided to keep it to a dozen people. These dozen people are at the top of our list because they have let us down the most - and also those who have been in the position to do something.
And there are some early contenders for the 2008 Dirty Dozen list:SE: Jeff Sessions would be on the list, but he isn't up for election in November, or Susan Collins - she's the Chair of the Homeland Security Committee - but her election isn’t till 2008. The same with Arlen Specter.
And what sort of activity will we see with the Dirty Dozen campaign between now and November? For example:SE: Again, we are not going to tell voters who to vote for, but on the other hand, let's say someone who is running against Lieberman comes to us and says:"Hey NSWBC, one of the agendas that I have here that I'm promising if I become the senator, or the congressman is that I would work very hard in passing whistleblowers legislation."If somebody were to do that and pledge their support publicly, then we would campaign along with them and do it as a mutual thing, but right now, as it stands we are bi-partisan whistleblowers.
The rest of this post is Sibel describing each member of the Dirty Dozen, and why they were included in the list. (You'll note that some of the quotes I've already used in earlier parts of this interview are actually lifted out of this final section of the interview.)
A few things before I hand over to Sibel
1. Pollster Charlie Cook doesn't think (pdf) that any of the House members in the Dirty Dozen is at risk in November. Regarding the Senate, he notes that the seats of Santorum, DeWine and Kyl are all vulnerable, and of course, Lieberman has a challenge in his primary (does anyone else know of any close races and primaries? please leave a comment). As Sibel noted above, the goal is not specifically to change the results of all of the elections, but to put sufficient pressure on the races so that the Senators and the Representatives will be more willing to push through the whistleblower legislation in January (if not before)
2. The Dirty Dozen were all sent letters prior to the release of the campaign, and given an opportunity to get themselves off the list. You can see the letters, and the prerequisites here
3. I've also made a separate post for each of the Dirty Dozen and simply copied the entire section for that person into the post so that people can link directly to each member.
Over to Sibel:
Senator Hillary Clinton
Armed Services Committee
There are several reasons why Clinton is on the list. We have a partner coalition that I mentioned earlier- they are called Veterans Affairs Whistleblowers Coalition - vawbc.com - and they are doctors and nurses who blew the whistle on some incredible criminal and abuse cases in the VA hospitals - I'll send you their letter to Clinton, and also NSWBC's letter - and we made lots of follow up phone calls and Clinton's office hasn’t even responded!
For the past 4 years these doctors have been trying to get Clinton's attention. a) They are from NY state, her state, and b) some of these cases are of VA patients who have been murdered.
In one case, some pharmaceutical companies give the VA hospitals $2000 per patient if the patient gives consent and signs up for some experimental drugs - and in some cases, some of these administrators and doctors - they forged patients' signatures in order to get the $2000 per head - just like guinea pigs - and some of these patients died. And because of the medical history of some of these veterans, they shouldn’t even have been given these experimental drugs - even if they had given their consent.
One guy involved in this case has been jailed for life - but they didn’t pursue it to the other doctors - but what happened was that before it even became a public issue - these pharmacists and doctors blew the whistle, and instead of looking into the issues and investigating it, these people were fired. They had to go and fight it with IGs and other such bodies - some of them got their jobs back but they're still being harassed there. But most of these problems that they reported haven’t been corrected. There has been no accountability, and many of these cases haven’t even been investigated.
So for the past 4 years these people have been trying to blow the whistle - boxes of letters, faxes, emails to Sen. Clinton’s office for the past four years. Not a response! Sometimes they get a canned response of 3 lines saying 'Sen. Clinton has always voted for an increase of budgets for the VA.' This is a high profile case - its been in the NY Times - its a whistleblower case, its a NY state case - and we are looking at this woman, Clinton, who is hawker than the most hawkish - or she pretends to be. She says she's pro-military 'send them to Iraq, let them die' - but here, she's not even looking after these veterans' rights when they're being murdered in VA hospitals. These same issues are widespread throughout the country in the other VA hospitals, not just in New York.
When we at the NSWBC found out about it, we were outraged - so we started sending letters. We called Clinton’s office, and we asked her to give us an appointment so that we could brief her and show her some of the patient files, together with the doctors. Nothing! No response. So that's one issue with Clinton.
The second issue with Clinton is that she's on the Armed Services Committee. We have had many DoD whistleblowers - either on a) big - very big - Halliburton related contract issues, and b) we have had whistleblowers on torture issues, for example Sergeant Provance who I mentioned earlier. He testified in the hearings in the House - it's just outrageous. These cases have been mailed to her office - and to this day, her office has not requested a single hearing into any of these DoD whistleblowers cases - some of them high profile. To this day they have not released a single press release, they have not responded to us, they have not responded to these whistleblowers (when I say 'they' I mean the staff members and Clinton’s office.) This woman is the hawkest of the hawks out there! and here we have Clinton - the queen of publicity whores - she is literally out there on TV and radio all the time, and at every chance she gets she wants to show her 'leadership skills' - and she's from NY. We want to go to her constituents in NY and say 'let's look at this woman’s track record, really!' a) where does she stand? Because she's a woman who takes NO ACTION - that should be her motto! and b) she pretends she's a hawk - but on the other hand, she sits and watches these people being abused and being screwed up, and murdered in VA hospitals in her own state! c) she doesn’t even respond to any whistleblower cases and therefore she's anti-accountability - and is against oversight, and against the public's right to know.
Her constituents have the right to know about this. You're looking at 10 to 15 senior level people - doctors and pharmacists - they’re not disgruntled employees. Some of these people that were fired have new jobs now - they’re practicing doctors - and some have gotten their jobs back, and they are still being retaliated against by the VA administrators
So this fits into the 'inaction' category that we mentioned earlier, but also 'pretension' - that would be another word to use! Another thing that I would like to say to people is that the latest surveys show that over 70% of people have lost faith in congress - they don’t have any confidence. Hillary, I believe is a very good example of why some people just shrug and say 'well - they're politicians - what do you expect, they're all just dirty scumbags - they’re' not going to represent the people'. Sen. Hillary Clinton - with this type of inaction - and coming and pretending with a bunch of baloney - she's a good example of this scumbag politician. Does she take a stand? Does she really do anything about issues that matter? No! Again - I’m not talking about one whistleblower's career - I’m talking about the issues. I believe her constituents have the right to know.
When I send you the letters about Hillary, you'll be able to link it in your article - and also the VAWBC website - and I also invite anybody who says 'well - they have to prove more' - well, they have to prove something to us. I would say 'why is the burden of proof in this case with us? Here is the information if you don't believe us.'
Also, she's always in front of the camera - yet for all her exposure, going through her statements in the press or in hearings or whatever, not once has she even mentioned the term "whistleblower." Now - considering the fact that we have had unprecedented numbers of whistleblowers in the past four years since September 11 - every week you open the newspaper there's a story about whistleblowers - from the Homeland Security, the DoD, the CIA, the FBI and you read about the retaliation against whistleblowers - and yet not once has Clinton even mentioned whistleblowers - and she's on the Armed Services Committee! Her behavior is outrageous and yet somehow, whistleblowing isn’t an issue for her. That says a lot in terms of where she stands, too.
And it's not like people say this issue doesn’t exist. It’s a very major issue. It wasn’t up till 2001 - but since September 11 whistleblowing is in the list of the top 5 issues. Since 2001, one of the big issues is whistleblowers. This administration is always screaming "We have leakers!" but of course we have so much fraud and waste and abuse and criminal activities that is forcing these whistleblowers to come forward - because we have so much bad stuff going on - but regardless, we have this huge issue of whistleblowers - and yet Clinton has not responded.
When we request to go and brief her, and her staff - see with her office she doesn’t want to know. She’s not even giving appointments. Why? Because we are not defense contractors, we are not contributing to her campaign. Mrs. Clinton - why is it that your staff - being on the Armed Services Committee, and therefore responsible for DoD whistleblowers - why is it that they don't want to even become aware of the issues? or even give an appointment for half an hour? To me, that says a lot. For someone who is so high profile, and who pretends otherwise. People need to be aware of this.
You know, in a way, even though I'm fighting against them, I have more respect for those people who oppose whistleblowers directly and say 'we're opposing it, we're not going to protect whistleblowers.' But these hypocrites who just sit down behind closed doors and actually go along with those who oppose whistleblowers, but out in public, they just pretend they don't know anything, as if this justifies their inaction. But then, when it comes to talk, they say they have these leadership skills and they care for this country, and they think they are 'it' - well that is hypocrisy. I respect someone more like say Dreier or Souder who come right out and say 'I'm anti-whistleblowers - and I don't believe we should be giving any rights to whistleblowers ' - at least we know where they stand, but this hypocrite Clinton, watch out, because she's far more dangerous, because this woman has no stand - and it's simply inaction - and this type of person has no leadership skills. She should not be in a leadership position.
However, with Clinton, I don’t know how much we can influence her election because I know that she has been running strong but remember that she got booed at the Take Back America conference!
Ya know, everyone always looks for the first person to boo at these things, and once one person started many others joined in. It was great to see some Dems with spines out there! So I guess that's as much as we hope to achieve with Hillary being on the Dirty Dozen list - we can start the booing!
(Clinton excerpt copied here )
- NSWBC Letter to Clinton Re: Whistleblowers' Dirty Dozen
- VAWBC Letter to Clinton Re: VA Hospitals & Corruption
- NSWBC Letter to Clinton Re: VA Whistleblowers - NY
- TSA Whistleblower Letter to Clinton
- Abuses Endangered Veterans in Cancer Drug Experiments
Senator Mike DeWine
Senate Judiciary Committee
Mike DeWine, in Ohio, well, he's just incredible. Have you seen the bill he introduced? He's a nutcase - as far as being far-out Right and pro-White House. After this illegal eavesdropping stuff came out - he introduced a bill with 5 or 6 points. The last point in his bill says 'we need to criminalize whistleblowing. Whistleblowers from agencies that deal with National Security or Law Enforcement should be liable to go to jail for up to 15 years and should be fined up to $1 million. The guy actually introduced this! This guy is a fascist!
He introduced this bill into the committee and he is going to push it for a vote! The conference is in September - and he's really pushing it hard - and he is on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter is the chairman, DeWine kind of has the 2nd chair on that - but DeWine has found other Republicans who have been backing him. I will send you the bill he proposes - there is one provision there that says that we should criminalize whistleblowing - with jail time and a fine. This is the first time ever that congress has tried to criminalize whistleblowing. It’s incredible! That says it all about DeWine.
The Judiciary Committee is very relevant to whistleblowers issues.
(DeWine excerpt copied here)
- NSWBC Letter to DeWine Re: Whistleblowers' Dirty Dozen
- DeWine Bill: The Terrorist Surveillance Act 2006
Rep. David Dreier
House Rules Committee
Also on our list is David Dreier - he is Chair of the House Rules Committee (which I discussed earlier). He is the one who has rejected all the whistleblower amendments and bills presented to the committee - and prevent them from coming to vote - anything that has to do with whistleblowers, he's against it.
Waxman actually had a press release saying that three times they rejected these amendments even though it was bipartisan, introduced by Waxman and Davis - basically saying that National Security Whistleblowers and contractors should be covered and that the House Rules Committee and their Leadership prevented it. So that's why Dreier is on the list - he's anti-whistleblowers and in his leadership position he has been preventing the whistleblower legislation. He is a very important one.
The reason that Dreier is so anti-whistleblower is that these people are in bed with the executive branch, the Whitehouse. People like Dreier and Hastert. If you look at all of their actions, they seem to see their job as protecting the President and the White House - rather than the oversight body - the congress of the United States that was established to provide checks and balances. And the issue of whistleblowers - not only the executive branch stands against it, and these people such as Dreier and Hastert and also Pat Roberts in the Senate - they see themselves as the guardian angels of the White House.
But you see, it's not just the Executive Branch that hates whistleblowers. You also have look at the other powerful actors - the defense companies and the rest of the military industrial complex. Do you think they like to see any whistleblower protection? Of course not! These companies take advantage of the situation. It is these companies that are doing these deals that are fraudulent or unfair.
Do you know the Bunny Greenhouse case? That's a good example of why these companies also don’t want effective whistleblower legislation.
So these people, Dreier and Hastert, are pro-executive branch, and pro-White House, and they don't even believe that their duty is as the other branch that is there to maintain the system of checks and balances - and so they have given the carte blanche to the White House.
You know, I didn’t even know who Dreier was till 3 or 4 months ago - when finally after working so hard - we passed this bill through the committee with Waxman, and we finally got Tom Davis' signature - and we were all excited that we'd finally got it - but then we were told 'No, no - you've still got to get passed someone who is very anti-whistleblowers - he's not going to let this go any further - and I was like 'Dreier - who the hell is he? The Rules Committee? What kind of committee is that? I've never heard of the Rules Committee!'
You see - let's say when a committee in the House passes a bill, meaning that the Republicans and Democrats vote on it and they pass it - that's only in the committee. Before it is put up for vote on the entire House floor, that bill that has already passed the committee has to go to the House Rules Committee, and these committees have to then get permission from the House Rules Committee to take it to the other committees, and then to the House floor. The House Rules Committee is in a position to simply say "No - we don’t want this bill to be voted on this year. We'll look at it next year. Why? We don't have to give you any reasons." They can block it there and it can get stuck in the House Rules Committee, even though it might have had bipartisan support. And the House Rules Committee has been blocking every single whistleblower legislation - even the bad ones! Even the bills that we consider really weak - bills that we'd prefer not to pass because we think they are so weak - because it only gives the illusion of protection - they block even those! It's David Dreier and Dennis Hastert, as the Leadership, who are preventing these bills.
As you know, Dreier nearly took Tom DeLay's position when DeLay was forced to stand down. It all makes sense - see how it all fits together!
(see also Hastert, below)
Rep. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House
Why is Hastert on the Dirty Dozen list? Hastert's inclusion on the list has nothing to do with my personal case - because I never went to him when I blew the whistle and was reporting it to congress - and of course you understand why I couldn’t! His is the last office I would want to go to.
He is in the leadership position in the House - and talking with other NGO's who deal with whistleblowers - like POGO and GAP etc - and also dealing with people in Congress who have been trying for the past 2 or 3 years to push certain bills and legislation - they have gone on the record clearly stating that the biggest problem is the House Leadership - especially Dennis Hastert - who basically prevents these bills to come up for vote, and also he stands really really strongly against whistleblowers .
But I haven’t had any direct contact with his office - and we have never had any specific cases dealing with his office. His inclusion on the list is based on the record compiled by all the NGOs that the House Leadership, led by Hastert is the major problem.
David Dreier is in a similar situation. Dreier is on the House Rules Committee, Hastert is the Speaker of the House - and as Speaker, he is part of the House Leadership that has been blocking any bills that have to do with whistleblower legislation - or any hearings. They have the power - because when you talk about House Leadership - you're looking at the chairman, and the WHIP, and the Speaker and the Chair of the Rules Committee. Those three or four people have the power to influence the Chairs of all the other committees. Even if the other Chairs want to have a vote, the Leadership can just block it. They just put pressure on each other. When Feingold was saying that some democrats were trying to put pressure on him, we're talking about the same scenario. And it's not just us - all of the other NGO's are saying the same thing - whenever any legislation gets stuck it's because the House Leadership that stands completely against it.
(see also Dreier, above, and Hatch, below)