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Dissenters’ Digest for November 2012

Dissenters’ Digest takes a look at last month’s top stories covering whistleblowers, watchdogs, and government accountability.

WPEA Becomes Law. After a 13-year run of last-minute stumbles, backroom negotiations, unnecessary compromises, and a mounting heap of ruined careers, whistleblowers will have marginally better protections for blowing the whistle on fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal government. The law lags behind private sector counterparts, which allow whistleblowers to challenge retaliatory conduct before a jury of one’s peers. The law does call for the Government Accountability Office to study the need for jury trials, in two years. Other provisions include strengthening the ability of the Office of Special Counsel to bring disciplinary actions against retaliators.

Draining the Swamp. A promising new campaign to clean up the corrupting influence of money in politics vows to “unseat” politicians who refuse to support the American Anti-Corruption Act. If successful, could become the benchmark against which all public interest advocacy campaigns would be measured.

Nation of Laws. President Obama planned to accelerate rulemaking for his drone kill list program in case Mitt Romney were elected president but has since slowed it down, raising questions about the extent to which the rule of law may be suspended when a Democrat is in the White House.

Below the Fold:

  • The Merit Systems Protection Board’s revised regulations, made final in October, are now in effect.
  • Former MSPB chair Beth Slavet was appointed director of OSHA’s whistleblower protection office.
  • A Cisco executive vowed to “make” a whistleblower his “hobby” after the whistleblower disclosed a memo detailing Cisco’s apparent overcharging of California State University.
  • CIA Director David Petraeus resigned after admitting he maintained an affair with a biographer. The scandal arose after the FBI investigated Petraeus’ personal email account, raising concerns about the government’s surveillance powers and the media’s veneration of military generals.
  • U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning will take some responsibility for releasing files to Wikileaks in exchange for reduced charges. After 917 days in captivity, Manning recently testified on his pre-trial detention, the first time the public has heard from him since his arrest.
  • The National Whistleblowers Center fired almost its entire staff.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee, seeking to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, approved legislation to require police to get a warrant before searching emails or other electronic files.
  • Senator Chuck Grassley asked Attorney General Eric Holder to let the DOJ inspector general review FBI whistleblower protections, citing the DOJ’s “horrendous” record of rectifying FBI whistleblower cases.
  • The National Archives blocked “Wikileaks” as a search term from its public search engine.
  • In the first two weeks of November, until its passage by Congress on Nov. 13, there were 7 articles about the WPEA, as measured by Google News. That brings the total for the previous 60 days to 127. By contrast, NWC’s Sept. 11 press conference about the $104 million reward to UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld commanded almost 300 articles in one day.
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