With a focus on issues compelling wronged government employees and others to blow the whistle against all forms of corruption, entangling and often ruining their lives and fortunes thereafter in a maze of legalities and retaliation, the twelfth annual Whistleblower Summit convened for three days on Capitol Hill. The keynote speaker at the First Plenary was Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a strong advocate of empowering and protecting whistleblowers. A bill he sponsored, the Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act, was signed into law four days prior to the conference.
July 30, the first day of the conference, was designated National Whistleblower Day by the Senate, to commemorate the first Whistleblowers Law on July 30, 1778, passed unanimously by the founding fathers prior to their signing of the Constitution. So it's an age-old event, still explosive all over the country, wherever "employees are silenced about schools, science, police departments, and all levels of governance," according to seven surveys sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
The Senate also proclaimed July 30 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day to honor whistleblowers, more than 63 of whom attended the conference, many of them featured on panels enabling them to tell their stories in detail.
Beyond whistleblowing in its multiple venues, specific emphasis was on wildlife crime whistleblowing.
A key theme was obstruction of mainstream media (MSM) reporting of the outrages perpetrated against victims of corruption who become whistleblowers. Relevant communications with the MSM, in the last 25 years more than previously, are being obstructed and must be cleared by press and information officers (PIOs), which amounts to censorship--unethical but spreading. Where the officers clear interviews, PIOs dictate what staff can discuss and also bar reporters from specifying whistleblower names and interviewing outside sources. Often officials listen in on interviews.
Wrote Kathryn Foxhall of the SPJ Freedom of Information (FOI) Committee: "Silencing people is a recipe for skewing information and hiding dangerous and critical information. This is a continuous danger to public welfare and we welcome you to join us in this fight."
Co-Hosts of the conference were ACORN 8, LLC, the Justice Integrity Project, The Pacifica Foundation, Project Censored, Coalition for Change (C4C), and Federally Employed Women--Legal Education Fund.
A compelling, harrowing documentary film, Whistleblowers, detailing the stories of the "New York Eight," spanning a wide range of outrages involving abuse of children and disabled populations, was premiered on July 30 in the evening at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC, including two panel discussions--one by the whistleblowers in the film, and the other by the filmmakers.