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Whistleblower Victory is only First Step!

By Jesselyn Radack and Jim Murtagh  Posted by James Murtagh (about the submitter)     Permalink
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102 Citizen groups banned together yesterday to win the biggest Whistleblower victory in US History. But, that is only the first step. Now, Whistleblower Protection must be extended to Federal employees!

Until yesterday, Congress was more likely to shoot the messanger than to protect whistleblower. But now, the public knows that whistleblowers are like Canaries in the Colemine. Federal servants cannot protect the public, unless truth-telling officials are protected from corrupt bosses who fail to protect  health, safety and civil rights.

Finally, Congress has gotten the message that Americans will not tolerate having their children exposed to unsafe products. In a landmark victory, the House voted 424 to 1 to ban lead and phthalates from items like bathtub rubber duckies that end up in kids' mouths.  But the other significant part of this bill, which is completely overlooked by the MSM, is that it provides landmark whistleblower protection to 20 million workers who report product safety concerns.  This foreshadows three weeks coming up in September during which there will be opportunities to get a vote on reforms to the Whistleblower Protection Act, which desperately needs safeguards like those in the wonderful consumer protection bill.  For anyone who has been through the whistleblower wringer, you know why this is so desperately needed.  And if not, I'll tell you after the jump.

It is nothing short of historic that yesterday Senate and House leaders reached conference committee agreement on major consumer product safety legislation.  For most, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act will prompt memories of massive recalls of "killer toys" tainted with lead over the past year.

But the overlooked aspect of this legislation, and the part I find most significant, is that is probably the best whistleblower law ever passed.  It provides whistleblower rights, enforceable by jury trials, to an estimated 20 million private sector workers connected with the manufacture, distribution, and retail sale of products ranging from toys to clothes, linens, car seats, hardware and household appliances.    

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The tragic thing is that public sector workers who blow the whistle on eveything from faulty airplane parts to tainted beef to unsafe nuclear facilities do not have similar protection.  The current Whistleblower Protection Act says that a government employee cannot be retaliated against for reporting such atrocities, but when they are retaliated against in spades (in my case, criminal investigation, referral to the state licensing bars, placement on the "no-fly list"), there's nothing they can do because the Whistleblower Protection Act has no enforcement mechanism.  It does not create a private cause of action (read: jury trials) to sue the wrongdoer and his or her accomplices in retaliation (in my case, former Attorney General Ashcroft and his functionaries).  Moreover, it does not provide coverage for FBI and intelligence whistleblowers, whose warnings were ignored before 9/11.  The people who can most protect us are the least protected.

Whistleblowers' only day in court to challenge politically-based retaliation is a kangaroo proceeding before the Merit Systems Protection Board--the legal system's lowest common denominator for due process.  Judicial appeallate review is the monopoly authority of a special Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, whose track record is 2-201 against whistleblowers.  

At first, Congress appeard to respond.  In March and December 2007, the House and Senate passed the legislation.  But it has languished ever since, Bu$h threatens to veto the bill, and time is running out.  Please call Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) at (202) 224-3542 and urge him to reserve floor time in September to finish the Whistleblower Protection Act bill (S 274 and HR 985).  Also have your own Senators and ask them to tell Senator Reid that they want floor time in September to finish the bill.   We need netroots communications from voters to Congress.

Jesselyn Radack's The Canary in the Coalmine is available for purchase at patriotictruthteller.net.

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