Rise Up To The Occasion… It Could Very Well Have Been You!

Every Single Person, Every Voice & Every Signature Counts

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Have you ever pulled over your car on a highway shoulder to be a Good Samaritan and help a driver of a broken car desperately in need of assistance? Have you done it despite the heavy traffic, and a remaining long commute to get home after an exhausting long shift at work? Do you remember thinking ‘hope someone, some day, will do the same for me or my loved one’?

Have you ever found a wallet or a cell phone, and then taken the time and effort to locate and contact the owner? Have you done it despite a hectic schedule, having a long to-do list, and in the midst of daily crisis and demands? Do you recall thinking ‘hope someday, someone, will do the same for me?’

Have you ever been before a federal court judge, with your rights being taken away one by one, your entire biographical existence being classified one after another, and during all this, your entire legal team and advisors being removed from the court room in order to make the screwing of your Constitutional rights completely secret and unobserved? I have:

A federal court in Washington yesterday took the rare step of closing an entire oral argument to the public in the case of a former FBI translator who says she was fired for complaining about security breaches. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit announced that today's 30-minute argument in the case of Sibel Edmonds, a Middle Eastern language specialist fired in 2002, will be conducted behind closed doors. The court gave no reason for its decision.

The unsettling story of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds took another twist on Thursday, as the government continued its seemingly endless machinations to shut her up. The U.S. Court of Appeals here denied pleas to open the former FBI translator's First Amendment case to the public, a day after taking the extraordinary step of ordering a secret hearing. 

I am not going to recount that incredibly awful experience as far as the butchering of our Constitution and liberties goes. Instead I want to briefly recount a minor detail with a major effect on me. [Read more...]

POGO Refuses to Rescind Obama’s Transparency Award

Blowing the Whistle on Those Who Falsely Claimed to Act on our Behalf

By Julia Davis

WhistleIn response to the petition from numerous groups and whistleblowers, Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) authored a blog on POGO’s website. While POGO’s response doesn’t contain any earth-shattering revelations, some of the attempts to justify the “Transparency Award” recently given to President Obama warrant a response.

POGO recently pondered whether they should buy a 30-second video spot on the CBS videotron in Times Square. They asked whistleblowers for feedback about the billboard. Unfortunately, they didn’t ask for feedback when it really mattered - prior to bestowing a Transparency Award upon President Obama. Now, in light of the mounting pressure to rescind this award, POGO dismissively refers to our opposition as a mere “distraction”.

Looking Forward, Moving Backward

POGO disingenuously claims that the Bush administration is at fault for the ongoing investigations and prosecutions against whistleblowers, undertaken by the current administration. In POGO’s blog describing the conversation with President Obama on the day when he received a “Transparency Award”, Danielle Brian wrote: 

"I noted, however, that the current aggressive prosecution of national security whistleblowers is undermining this legacy… The President shifted in his seat and leaned forward. He said he wanted to engage on this topic because this may be where we have some differences."

POGO claims that the ongoing prosecutions of whistleblowers simply happened to “ripen” just in time to be pursued by this administration. Such an assertion rings hollow in light of this administration’s decision not to file charges against the Bush regime under the guise of “looking forward and not backwards”, stating that this is “a time for reflection, not retribution". Apparently, this serene forgiveness applies to those responsible for war crimes, torture, and illegal spying, but not to the whistleblowers.

Contrary to POGO’s deeply flawed arguments, it is within this administration’s discretion to decide who gets prosecuted. These decisions have been chilling so far. Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said:  "The whole point of the prosecution is to have a chilling effect on reporters and sources, and it will." While such prosecutions are ongoing, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, OpenTheGovernment.org, Project on Government Oversight, OMB Watch and the National Security Archive saw it fit to endorse these actions through a Transparency Award. By definition, an award is something that was earned, is deserved and encourages more of the same. That is hardly the message our supposed transparency advocates should be sending.  [Read more...]

POGO : Obama Deserves Transparency Award &“ has achieved more openness than any other recent president!”

Project on Government Oversight Refuses to Take Back Obama Transparency Award

takeback In a very wordy, hollow words that is, public response, Danielle Brian of Project on Government Oversight (POGO) not only adamantly declines to rescind Obama’s Transparency Award given to him in secrecy, but she actually praises the President as one who has achieved more openness than any other US president, thus deserving of an award given to him in a secret ceremony. Further, Ms. Brian considers this petition and signatories’ efforts a waste of time and a distraction. Here are a few excerpts from POGO’s public response to the petition and all signatories:

It's undeniable that the Obama administration has achieved more openness than any other recent president.

Of course, the fact that this rescheduled meeting wasn’t on the President’s calendar made it an easy joke. When we discovered this, we described it as “crazy stupid.” But the fact that the meeting wasn’t open to the press didn’t strike me as unusual—I have meetings all the time with policymakers that are not open to the press.

So no, I do not regret taking the opportunity to meet with the President and get him to discuss the prosecutions of national security whistleblowers, and I am not going to withdraw our support for the award.

Public debate and discourse is often healthy. But there is so much to be done to safeguard our rights and expand openness—our community just doesn’t have the luxury to waste time on distractions.

It appears as if the people at POGO didn’t even bother to read the petition and the cited facts. But I believe they know the facts. They know them too well. Yet, despite all these cited facts, despite all the cited actions taken by this President and his administration (yes, last time I checked presidents were held liable for their appointees’ practices!) against transparency and whistleblowers, despite all the measures taken by this President and his administration towards unprecedented levels of secrecy, POGO deemed, and still deems,  this president worthy of a Transparency Award; in a closed secret meeting not even logged in White House Schedule-Records.

Further, maybe even worse, despite repeated appeals, despite more than 25 whistleblowers’ implorations, despite more than 20 pro-transparency and pro-liberties organizations’ requests, despite the outcry from the public and journalist communities, POGO insists on the non-existent merits of this award, and it refuses to acknowledge it as a very dumb mistake; and adamantly refuses to take it back. And finally, POGO considers you, me, and everyone else on this petition a group that has the ‘luxury to waste time,’ and calls this petition a ‘distraction.’

Let me address a few ludicrous claims and positions presented by POGO:

Obama Should Not Be Held Responsible for His Administration’s Practices

POGO shields and defends Obama by asking people to blame and go after the agencies, not the President. They put forth a ludicrous and warped defense by claiming that presidents should not be held liable for the practices of the agencies headed by the president’s handpicked appointees.

First, this is akin to saying Hitler didn’t personally participate in annihilation, internment, torturing and killing; those were practiced by his military and police force, thus, he should not be blamed. This is similar to arguing that Abu-Ghraib practices and scandals were limited to a handful of lower-rank military personnel, and those above them with the authority and responsibility should have been absolved from any accountability. POGO says the awful anti-transparency and anti-whistleblower practices are implemented by the agencies and the bureaucracy, and the President does not have any power over them, so leave the President alone, give him awards, and go chase after his employees.

Secondly, POGO’s ludicrous position in absolving the President from his administration and agencies’ anti-transparency and anti-liberties practices reeks with hypocrisy and double talk. This is the same NGO that consistently (and justifiably) blamed the Bush-Cheney office for atrocious practices implemented by the agencies under them.

And finally, based on POGO’s argument we should not bother electing presidents, since presidents and presidential powers have nothing to do with the executive branch and its practices. POGO has declared presidential authority and responsibility moot.

Words Speak Much Louder than Actions & The Award Was Given Based on Obama’s Words

POGO, with a straight face, is telling the public to disregard Obama’s record and pay attention only to his words. This is like letting a serial rapist pedophile who happens to be an author of books on ‘protecting children against pedophiles’ go free despite damning evidence proving him guilty of raping and molesting children. This is similar to absolving the Catholic priests that were found guilty of child molestation because they spoke the right words on Sunday.

POGO even goes further and engages in double-talk and actions similar to the President himself. It is disingenuous for Danielle Brian to claim on one hand that it's not Obama's fault that the whistleblowers are being prosecuted, when she, Brian, in her own blog said that when she brought up anti-whistleblowers practices and  the Drake prosecution during the "Transparency Award" meeting, Obama said straight up that he disagreed with her position.

On one hand POGO asserts that ‘there are many things to bemoan in the Obama administration’s implementation of its open government goals,’ yet, on the other hand, they claim that Obama deserves and had actually earned the transparency award. POGO does not refute the facts and cases cited in our petition on Obama’s record as the worst president on whistleblowers and transparency, yet, they find this completely irrelevant to their decision to present this President with an undeserved mockery transparency award.

Do As We Say But Don’t Do As We Do!

Interestingly, as an organization funded by millions of dollars from special interest corporations-foundations that engages in issuing hundreds of in words-only cosmetic petition campaigns, POGO considers the petition signed and backed by numerous noted government whistleblowers, organizations, and activists, ‘A Waste of Time,’ and a major (and inconvenient) ‘Distraction.’ Danielle Brian actually stresses that petitions are useless, and tells people not to waste time going after Obama’s transparency award by campaigning with this petition. If POGO truly believes that then why do they spend millions of dollars, and high six-figure salaries for petitions to Congress and agencies, rather than actually supporting government whistleblowers with badly needed legal advice and help? [Read more...]

Peter B Collins Interviews Coleen Rowley: Take Back Obama Transparency Award!

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Listen to the show here.

Please Sign the Petition Here:Take Award Back.Com

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Rescind Obama’s “Transparency Award” Now!

Tell POGO, OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, Open the Government.Org, and the Reporters Committee to publicly take back their Transparency Award to President Obama

takebackaward

The following petition was co-written by Coleen Rowley and me, and has been backed by more than 25 government whistleblowers and over 20 organizations. Awarding the worst president in US history when it comes to government whistleblowers with a Transparency Award is a huge insult. Presenting a president who has dramatically increased government secrecy with an Anti-Secrecy Award is ridiculous. Rewarding one of the worst US presidents when it comes to invocation of unconstitutional state secrets privilege is ludicrous. This award is a major insult to all liberty-loving Americans. This award is a slap to all freedom-liberty seeking activists. This award is dumb, highly damaging, and extremely dangerous by what it says it represents. Please stand up and say ‘NO’ to this award by signing this petition. I urge you to demand that this award be taken back immediately. I implore you to not let them get away with this in your name. I am asking you to sign this petition and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Don’t let them mock our nation, our people and our values: Take Obama’s Transparency Award Back Now.

Please Sign the Petition Here:Take Award Back.Com

Thank You,

Sibel Edmonds

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by contributing directly and or purchasing Boiling Frogs showcased products.