By Kevin Stoda in Kuwait
Recently, I was happy to see during my visit to the United States Embassy here in Kuwait a sign encouraging employees there (and people visiting the public services section) to whistle-blow if and when they need to.
The poster indicated that there were certain rights one had to blow the whistle on corruption and other bureaucratic malfeasance on-site. This is very appropriate because annually the U.S. Embassy tries to promote a decrease in corrupt practices here in the Middle East by shining its light on a variety of shenanigans and illegal mistreatment of companies and individuals by employers, local government officials, and various businesses in the region.
As a concerned American, one great organization to look into and support is the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). Browse their web site and see what they offer: http://www.pogo.org/index.shtml
WAR-PROFITEERING AND CORRUPTION Recall that during WWII a little-known politician named "Harry S. Truman, then a U.S. Senator, launched a special committee to investigate fraud and waste in WWII contracts. While today's lawmakers have held only a handful of hearings on Iraq war contracts, the Truman Committee held 432 hearings with 1,798 witnesses and issued 51 reports between 1941 and 1948. The Truman Committee saved taxpayers some $15 billion (in 1940s dollars) and prevented hundreds, if not thousands of deaths by uncovering faulty military equipment.
For example, the Committee revealed that the military helped aerospace firm Curtiss-Wright cover up defects in airplane motors it sold to the Air Force."-Finally, on September 21, 2007 a pair of young senators from Missouri and Virginia have presented a bill with over 25 supporters calling for far greater oversight investigating war-time contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. See Senators Webb and McCaskill's bil l.
I don't know why it has taken so many years for such an oversight to begin, but we Americans need to ensure that some two hundred hearings are held annually and get back every last penny of the billions boondoggled out of U.S. taxpayers over the past decade or so.The wonderful Project on Government Oversight (POGO) website has also, for example, been investigating a variety of questionable companies and their practices. On POGO's website we see listed contractgors involved in scams and scandalous behavior on government contracts""all documented since 1995. POGO calls it the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database of http://www.contractormisconduct.org/ , and there is more than Halliburton on the list.
There are some 50 companies listed on that data, including top leaders in government military- and oil contracts. All 50 had shown misconducts dealing with government contracts during the first 10 years of research.. At the top of the list so far are 5 companies (ahead of Halliburton) in overall federal contracting with instances of misconduct :(1) Lockheed Martin(2) Boeing Company(3) Northrup Grumman(4) General Dynamics(5) Raytheon
Between 1995 and 2005, these particular five leaders in government contracting had already demonstrated misconduct costing the U.S. government nearly 2.7 billion dollars.Worse still, oil giant Exxon-Mobile (by itself) had over 4 billion worth of misconduct related to federal contracts in the same period. Misconduct includes improper book keeping, non-deliveries charged, etc.
Several non-oil companies, such as McKesson and Boeing as individual firms, also had almost a billion dollars in misconduct instances in the 1995-2005 period. NOTE TO WHISTLE BLOWERSSadly, currently it is very dangerous to whistle blow, especially if one is a government bureaucrat. POGO warns:
"Whistleblowing is often not easy. Exposed whistleblowers are almost always reprimanded, fired, and/or harassed, even if they have not "gone public" and even if their allegations are proven to be true. It takes a lot of courage and forethought to take on a powerful government agency or a private contractor. The mental, emotional, and fiscal hardships that a whistleblower may encounter should be fully understood before any steps are taken to disseminate information - publicly or not.
In recent years, protections for federal employees have been unraveled by hostile judicial rulings. As a result, federal employees have little protections against retaliation."
POGO recommends a variety of procedures to protect whistle blowers. I think the news media needs to shine the light more on these scandals and persecution of past whistle-blowers.
Note: Too bad, most of cannot even get jobs in the federal government because of the fear that we will whistle blow.
"Cracking Down on War Profiteering"- http://www.corporatepolicy.org/topics/warprofiteering.htm