Friday, May 18, 2007

Washington’s peculiar zoology

Scott Shane at NYT:
"The whistle-blower, a species in Washington’s peculiar zoology as well established now as the talk-show pundit or the campaign consultant, is enjoying an unusual spell in the sunshine. It is Whistle-Blower Week, so declared by a coalition of advocacy groups, and there is unusual acclaim for those whose leaks make possible Congressional hearings and newspaper exposés.
Some events have featured the rock stars of the government whistle-blowing world, including Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, an Army Corps of Engineers official who objected to no-bid Halliburton contracts, and Colleen Rowley, a former F.B.I. agent who tried to alert superiors to the threat of Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks. Their celebrity was a reminder of the central role such insiders have routinely played in shaping the news.

But lurking around the edges of the awards ceremonies and panel discussions, avidly taking notes, were people who did not want to give their names — just yet.

At one seminar, a veteran Congressional investigator, Emilia DiSanto of the Senate Finance Committee, gave out her fax number (202-228-2131) and invited information from people too fearful to reveal their identities. Already, Ms. DiSanto explained, she works with several people who prefer to be known only by their noms de whistle: “We have a Mr. Blue. We have Apples. We have P. J.”

Under the oak trees in a park near the Capitol, Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican and a sort of patron saint of whistle-blowers, spoke on Thursday to more than 100 whistle-blowers, wannabes and representatives of what might be called the whistle-blowing lobby, the platoon of Washington advocacy groups with names like the Government Accountability Project and Taxpayers Against Fraud.

“You’re very much part of the system of checks and balances,” said Mr. Grassley, 73, who received an award and posed for snapshots with a long line of admirers.

“Whistle-blowers pay a high price,” he said, adding, “There’s a great deal of pressure in government to go along to get along.”

In the crowd was Michael German, a 16-year agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation who resigned in June 2004, after two years of what he describes as retaliation for his complaints about the mishandling of a terrorism investigation. He enjoyed a degree of vindication after Mr. Grassley earlier this year obtained transcripts appearing to uphold Mr. German’s account of the case."
Count me among those who aren't too impressed with Sen. Grassley.


Miguel said...

I'm not too impressed with Grassley either but, unfortunately, he is about the best we've got on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Miguel said...

I'm not too impressed with Grassley either but, unfortunately, he is about the best we've got on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

lukery said...

btw - i remember seeing footage of Grassley saying/chuckling something like 'no Senator wants to upset the FBI' implying that the FBI can hurt whoever they want. do you have any idea where/when that was?