In extremely troubling news, a whistleblowing nurse in Texas is being put on trial for exposing that bad medicine was being practiced by a doctor. The nurse sent a letter to the state’s medical board, detailing six specific cases (only by file number, sans personal details) of questionable treatment, along with showing evidence that the doctor was emailing patients about herbal supplements that he “sold on the side.”
Nevertheless, the sheriff of the Texas town, who is great friends with the doctor-in-question, and who credits the doctor with saving his life from a heart attack, arrested the nurse for “misuse of official information” – a third degree felony in Texas.
After the nurse was arrested last June, a surprise inspection by state investigators found “several violations by Dr. Arafiles and concluded that the hospital had discriminated against the nurses by firing them for ‘reporting in good faith.’” From the article:
“To me, this is completely over the top,” said Louis A. Clark, president of the Government Accountability Project, a group that promotes the defense of whistle-blowers. “It seems really, really unique.”
The trial started yesterday. We’ll keep you informed.
GAP is no stranger to Marine Corps retaliation against whistleblowers. Franz Gayl, a former Marine and now civilian working for the Marines, faced unrelenting retaliation from blowing the whistle on the bureaucratic holdup of putting MRAP vehicles – which offer significantly greater protection to American troops than Humvees – in the field.
Gayl appeared on GAP's television program, Whistle Where You Work, to discuss the retaliation he has faced as a whislteblower. To watch the episode and learn more about Franz Gayl's courageous struggle, click here.
This post was written by GAP Homeland Security Director Jesselyn Radack for her Daily Kos Blog.
Google has decided to partner with the National Security Agency (NSA) to analyze the recent corporate espionage attack on Google's systems - said to have originated in China - in an effort to prevent similar cyber attacks in the future.
There is an enormous danger to Americans' privacy and a great propensity for error when government and private sector partnerships are initiated without aggressive oversight and meaningful regulation.
Alarm bells sound even louder when the NSA is involved, considering the NSA's infamous record of teaming up with the private sector to invade Americans' privacy in the name of national security. George W. Bush's so-called "terrorist surveillance program," (a.k.a. warrantless wiretapping) authorized under dubious legal reasoning from our favorite former-DOJ official "torture lawyer" John Yoo, resulted in the NSA and telecommunications companies doing an end-run around the 4th Amendment to dig into Americans' private data without warrants.
Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, insists that the Google-NSA partnership is necessary for national security, a mantra we've heard too many times to justify improper surveillance and privacy-invading programs:
There are countless unanswered questions about the Google-NSA partnership: Exactly what information will Google and the NSA be sharing? What happens to that information? What safeguards are in place to guarantee the information shared is kept out of government databases when there is no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity? What authority will the NSA use to obtain information from Google in the name of cyber security? Will a neutral party oversee the partnership to ensure Americans' privacy is protected?
It is especially worrisome that, as reported in The Washington Post, Google and NSA refused to comment specifically on the agreement:
Google and the NSA declined to comment on the partnership. But sources with knowledge of the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google's policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans' online communications. The sources said the deal does not mean the NSA will be viewing users' searches or e-mail accounts or that Google will be sharing proprietary data.
After all of the disastrous missteps and proven illegality that the NSA has committed in recent years, it is unacceptable that all the assurances we have that this program will protect privacy and not result in illegal spying are from "anonymous sources." It seems the NSA is once again saying "trust us, we're the government." Frankly, while trusting the government is an already dubious notion, it is downright laughable coming from an agency like the NSA.
Cyber security is no doubt an important issue. However, private sector cooperation with government agencies, especially ones notorious for secret surveillance, should only be undertaken where there are regulatory privacy safeguards and aggressive oversight in place. Privacy should not be an area where we shoot first and ask questions later. The right to be left alone is far too crucial to our democracy to be cast aside by a few powerful government officials and corporate executives.
Google should heed its own mantra - "Don't Be Evil" - before it leaps into bed with a government agency already known to toss out the rule of law.
Does that sound like a significant amount? You bet. From the article (WaPo):
"Anything over 1 percent would raise a red flag, particularly for the manufacturer," said James C. Fell, who worked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 30 years, and was chief of research for traffic safety programs.
The recent recall of 2.3 million Toyotas and the unprecedented halt in sales of several popular models because of faulty accelerator pedals raises questions about why Toyota and the NHTSA had failed to bring the problem to light previously.
In another hit to Toyota's reputation, the Japanese government has recently ordered Toyota to investigate the braking system on the 2010 Prius, following which the United States said it would begin an inquiry as well. This also raises questions about the efficacy of the NHTSA, as 111 of the 171 complaints filed with the agency by 2010 Prius owners involved brake problems.
Climate science skeptics had jumped on hundreds of emails and other documents obtained by an unknown computer hacker from a British scientific center, the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, in late November.
Climate skeptics claimed Dr. Michael E. Mann, author of some of the emails, seemed to indicate he destroyed some data and was using a "trick" to manipulate other data. The academic board at Pennsylvania State University, where Dr. Mann is employed, defined "trick" as a term used by scientists and mathematicians to refer to an insight that solves a problem in their ruling. Dr. Mann also produced data and emails that skeptics claimed he had destroyed to influence evidence.
Despite the ruling of the board, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), an outspoken climate science skeptic, is still calling for an independent investigation.
GAP’s Climate Science Watch program has been following this issue since the news first broke last year.
Wikileaks has published millions of documents, and fought off more than 100 legal challenges since its inception in 2007. It is famous for posting, among other things, the U.S. military manual for procedures at Guantánamo Bay, which included a list of inmates who would be off-limits for the Red Cross, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority's controversial blacklist of websites that would be banned under the federal government's Internet censoring policy (turning out to be online poker sites, YouTube links, and Wikipedia postings).
The groups’s officers announced its plan to shutter the site in December unless it raised enough funds to continue - but so far fundraising efforts have only netted $130,000, which amounts to a little more than half its annual costs - not including pay for staff.
A statement on the website claimed that Wikileaks had recently received hundreds of thousands of documents pertaining to "corrupt banks, the US detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the UN and many others," but no longer had the resources to release them.