Then-governor Susana Martinez addressing 2016 Republican Convention
AP Photo/J Scott Applewhite
❝ A bodyguard for former Gov. Susana Martinez says in a new lawsuit that state police officials retaliated against him for raising concerns about misconduct by another member of her security detail, including concerns about the misspending of campaign funds.
New Mexico State Police Officer Tony Fetty claims officials around the governor instead sought to protect her ex-bodyguard, Ruben Maynes, and alleges the two had a personal relationship.
❝ The lawsuit adds to questions other state law enforcement officials have already raised in recent months about why Maynes received a $200,000 out-of-court settlement from the New Mexico government after leaving the governor’s security detail and what relationship, if any, he had with the state’s top elected official and her family…
❝ Fetty says in his lawsuit that colleagues told him Maynes was “protected” — that is, untouchable for political reasons.
The officer says: “Because of the overlapping of Agent Maynes’ personal life and frequency of non-professional concerns expressed by Gov. Martinez about Maynes, it became clear … that there was a personal relationship between Gov. Martinez and Agent Maynes.”
Surely, you didn’t think salacious tales of sex and corruption were limited to federal officials in Washington, DC.
❝ For the first time since the Trump administration came to office and began dismantling the key science underpinnings of federal climate policy, a senior agency official has invoked the protections of the whistleblower law to publicly object to what he calls an illegal attempt to intimidate him.
The official, Joel Clement, had been the director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Interior Department before he says he was arbitrarily reassigned to an obscure accounting post to punish him for speaking up about protections for native Americans in Alaska. He says that was ordered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to force him to be quiet or quit — and to send a message.
Clement, who publicized his formal complaint in a commentary published Wednesday in the Washington Post, said his case is not an isolated example but part of a pattern.
Witch Hunt is one of Trump’s favorite condemnations of journalists working hard to present facts to confront his lies – and more. No doubt many of his appointed flunkies – like Ryan Zinke – not only approve of their boss’s lies; but, join willingly in shameful practices like those described by Clement in an attempt to close down criticism and confrontation.
Not unusual for rightwing ideologues. Reminiscent of that Republican creep, Joe McCarthy, who popularized the witch hunt as his favorite political theatre decades ago. Trump’s theatrics promise a revival.
❝ The U.S. Justice Department has joined a whistleblower lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group Inc that claims the country’s largest health insurer and its units and affiliates overcharged Medicare hundreds of millions of dollars, a law firm representing the whistleblower said on Thursday…
❝ The lawsuit, filed in 2011 and unsealed on Thursday, alleges UnitedHealth Group overcharged Medicare by claiming the federal health insurance program’s members nationwide were sicker than they were, according to the law firm Constantine Cannon LLP.
The Justice Department has also joined in allegations against WellMed Medical Management Inc, a Texas-based healthcare company UnitedHealth bought in 2011…plus several more affiliates who say they can’t imagine why they’re accused of being co-conspirators.
❝ The lawsuit by whistleblower Benjamin Poehling, a former UnitedHealth executive, has been kept under seal in federal court in Los Angeles while the Justice Department investigated the claims for the past five years.
The wheels of justice in America grind exceedingly slow in those rare circumstances when they’re set upon corporate theft and fraud.
❝ After his warnings about Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme went ignored for years, Harry Markopolos urged U.S. regulators to encourage tipsters. Now, the forensic accountant and a team he put together are in position to benefit from those new incentives.
❝ U.S. government settlements with State Street Corp. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. could produce a windfall for three former employees who blew the whistle on the banks’ alleged mistreatment of foreign-currency-trading clients. Mr. Markopolos, who assembled the group and advised them, could reap a slice of any payouts awarded to the whistleblowers…
Those awards could exceed a combined $100 million, the largest such awards on record, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.
❝ The currency investigations have changed the way trust banks operate, crimping what had been a profitable corner for the banks as the markups in currency trades have fallen, analysts said. The potential payouts also could encourage more tips to regulators about possible improprieties.
“Whenever there’s a big award…there’s an uptick of filings and submissions,” said Erika Kelton, an attorney who has represented whistleblowers. “Those large awards show these programs work, and that the risk of stepping forward may be a risk worth taking.”
I’ll second that emotion.
❝ An explosive exposé shows that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden repeatedly tried to raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance, but was ignored.
Hundreds of internal NSA documents declassified and released by journalists prove that claims made by senior officials in the Obama administration and prominent politicians like Hillary Clinton, who accused Snowden of failing to use available whisteblower protections, are false…
❝ U.S. government officials have previously claimed that Snowden did not raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance before leaking classified documents to reporters. The NSA originally insisted that Snowden had simply sent a single email raising concern of potential overreach.
Internal documents, on the other hand, VICE News writes, reveal “that not only was the truth about the ‘single email’ more complex and nuanced than the NSA disclosed to the public, but that Snowden had a face-to-face interaction with one of the people involved in responding to that email.”
The exposé also reveals that the NSA admitted to altering emails related to its discussions about Snowden…
❝ In her response, Clinton echoed a debunked story that claimed that Russia and China got access to Snowden’s classified documents. The shoddy report originated in a right-wing British newspaper that referred to Snowden as a pilfering “fugitive” and cited no evidence, only unverifiable claims by anonymous British officials.
To date, there is no evidence Snowden’s leaks jeopardized U.S. security in any tangible way. The Obama administration has frequently claimed this, but thoroughly redacted its official reports on how this is supposedly true to such a point that no one can actually read its justification…
❝ In his testimony to the European Parliament in March 2014, VICE noted, Snowden was asked whether he “exhausted all avenues before taking the decision to go public.”
“Yes,” he replied. “I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than 10 distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them\.”
“As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the U.S. government,” continued Snowden, who had been an NSA contractor with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, “I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about law breaking in accordance with the recommended process.”
❝ The hundreds of pages of internal documents from the U.S. government that are now available, VICE News emphasizes, show that Snowden “had repeatedly attempted to raise his concerns inside the NSA about its surveillance of U.S. citizens — and the agency had done nothing.”
My cynicism about government led by either of the two old parties continues unabated. Defense of constitutional freedoms is not a standard honored by either party. There may be differences in corruption. Most of the time that feels like inquiries about being “a little bit pregnant” from an anti-abortion fanatic.
The only part I find confounding is that – in practice – Democrats really have nothing to lose by standing up and supporting whistleblowers, freedom fighters in a long American tradition. Their backwards practices in foreign policy are generally forgiven by a perpetually ignorant electorate. And the average voter still thinks the Dem Establishment is out there standing up for the little guy. They really should try living up to a reputation leftover from the days of FDR and the New Deal.
❝ From the time we began reporting on the archive provided to us in Hong Kong by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, we sought to fulfill his two principal requests for how the materials should be handled: that they be released in conjunction with careful reporting that puts the documents in context and makes them digestible to the public, and that the welfare and reputations of innocent people be safeguarded. As time has gone on, The Intercept has sought out new ways to get documents from the archive into the hands of the public, consistent with the public interest as originally conceived.
❝ Now, The Intercept is announcing two innovations in how we report on and publish these materials. Both measures are designed to ensure that reporting on the archive continues in as expeditious and informative a manner as possible, in accordance with the agreements we entered into with our source about how these materials would be disclosed, a framework that he, and we, have publicly described on numerous occasions.
❝ The first measure involves the publication of large batches of documents. We are, beginning today, publishing in installments the NSA’s internal SIDtoday newsletters, which span more than a decade beginning after 9/11. We are starting with the oldest SIDtoday articles, from 2003, and working our way through the most recent in our archive, from 2012…we will periodically release batches until we have made public the entire set…
❝ Accompanying the release of these documents are summaries of the content of each, along with a story about NSA’s role in Guantánamo interrogations, a lengthy roundup of other intriguing information gleaned from these files, and a profile of SIDtoday. We encourage other journalists, researchers, and interested parties to comb through these documents…to find additional material of interest.
❝ The other innovation is our ability to invite outside journalists, including from foreign media outlets, to work with us to explore the full Snowden archive.
Here’s the link to the growing archive of NSA documents. Courtesy of Edward Snowden…and the editors of The Intercept.
❝ ‘I’ve been waiting 40 years for someone like you.” Those were the first words Daniel Ellsberg spoke to me when we met last year. Dan and I felt an immediate kinship; we both knew what it meant to risk so much – and to be irrevocably changed – by revealing secret truths.
❝ One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency; who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint. They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: what begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice…
❝ A single act of whistleblowing doesn’t change the reality that there are significant portions of the government that operate below the waterline, beneath the visibility of the public. Those secret activities will continue, despite reforms. But those who perform these actions now have to live with the fear that if they engage in activities contrary to the spirit of society – if even a single citizen is catalysed to halt the machinery of that injustice – they might still be held to account. The thread by which good governance hangs is this equality before the law, for the only fear of the man who turns the gears is that he may find himself upon them.
Hope lies beyond, when we move from extraordinary acts of revelation to a collective culture of accountability within the intelligence community. Here we will have taken a meaningful step towards solving a problem that has existed for as long as our government.
❝ Not all leaks are alike, nor are their makers…There are authorised leaks and also permitted disclosures. It is rare for senior administration officials to explicitly ask a subordinate to leak a CIA officer’s name to retaliate against her husband, as appears to have been the case with Valerie Plame. It is equally rare for a month to go by in which some senior official does not disclose some protected information that is beneficial to the political efforts of the parties but clearly “damaging to national security” under the definitions of our law…
If harmfulness and authorisation make no difference, what explains the distinction between the permissible and the impermissible disclosure?
The answer is control. A leak is acceptable if it is not seen as a threat, as a challenge to the prerogatives of the institution. But if all the disparate components of the institution – not just its head but its hands and feet, every part of its body – must be assumed to have the same power to discuss matters of concern, that is an existential threat to the modern political monopoly of information control, particularly if we’re talking about disclosures of serious wrongdoing, fraudulent activity, unlawful activities…
RTFA. Please. Edward Snowden provides historical context and constitutional validation for transparency our government is scared crapless about enabling – even by an act of courage.