The Silence of the
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
~ o ~
December 22, 2006
AIG Sues Former Worker for Extortion
Forbes, Associated Press
American International Group Inc. sued a former accounting vice president Friday, alleging she has refused to return company computers and confidential information and has attempted to “harass, extort and injure” the insurer.
The insurance company filed its breach-of-contract claim against Dong “Dee” Chung in federal court in Manhattan on Friday, saying she made allegations of accounting improprieties at the company after being terminated earlier this month for “performance deficiencies and rank insubordination.“
AIG said in its lawsuit that Chung, who worked for the insurer for less than a year, has a history of “harassing her former employers and lodging baseless allegations.”
“AIG committed to investigate her allegations – which, AIG determined, related to issues that had previously been surfaced and shared with appropriate regulators – but refused her demand for a settlement,” the lawsuit says.
Chung responded with “what has become an escalating campaign of harassment and intimidation” that included sending privileged and confidential company legal memoranda to competitors and litigation adversaries and a “daily barrage of emails from numerous changing email aliases to AIG directors, officers and employees,” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that Chung also has ignored AIG’s demand that she return a BlackBerry e-mail pager and two company laptops issued to her.
Chung, a U.S. citizen who is believed to be living in Hong Kong, couldn’t immediately be located for comment on Friday.
Last year, New York-based AIG announced it would restate more than four years of its earnings and said, without naming its former Chairman Maurice “Hank” Greenberg directly, that former executives at times were able to “circumvent internal controls over financial reporting.” Greenberg retired from AIG last year.
Earlier this year, AIG agreed to pay more than $1.6 billion to settle accounting fraud allegations by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Spitzer, who was recently elected as New York’s governor, is pursuing a civil action against Greenberg.
“The complaint speaks for itself,” said Chris Winans, an AIG spokesman, on Friday.
Chung joined AIG’s New York office in January as a vice president and assistant director for accounting policy in its Comptroller Division and was assigned to be the company’s Hong Kong designate in its Office of Accounting Policy in June, according to the lawsuit.
AIG said Chung was “unwilling to cooperate with others at AIG or take direction” from her superiors after her hiring and received a verbal warning in July that her performance was deficient.
The lawsuit says Chung didn’t respond to a request for a meeting with her new supervisor in November and didn’t report to the office for an 11-day period in late November, even though her supervisor hadn’t approved her request for leave.
She also refused a request in early December to work from a new office in Hong Kong and ignored additional requests to meet with her new supervisor, according to the complaint. Chung was terminated on Dec. 6, according to the lawsuit.
“Defendant, in response, alleged that AIG had engaged in accounting irregularities,” the lawsuit says. “Defendant concluded her remarks by demanding to know what her ‘settlement’ would be. Defendant was informed that she would not receive any ‘settlement’ and that she should raise any concerns about purported improprieties through appropriate channels.“
In its complaint, AIG also said that Chung, who was acting as her own legal representative, harassed her former employee, KPMG LLP, in a prior lawsuit and was sanctioned by an appellate court in Chicago.
In an order in June 2004, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals admonished and reprimanded Chung for “abuse of the court system through frivolous and vexatious litigation.”
“Any further such abuse will result in the imposition against her of a bar to further access to the federal courts, except in criminal cases and applications for writs of habeas corpus,” the appeals court found.
November 24, 2006
Whistle-blowers tell of cost of conscience
By Catherine Rampell, USA TODAY
He knew there were problems. He didn’t think he was one of them.
In 2002, decorated FBI Special Agent Mike German was investigating meetings between terrorism suspects. When he discovered other officers had jeopardized the investigation by violating wiretapping regulations, he reported what he found to his supervisors, in accordance with FBI policy.
At the time, Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who had raised concerns about how the pre-9/11 arrest of al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was handled, was being hailed as a national hero. German says he had also just received a mass e-mail from FBI Director Robert Mueller, urging other whistle-blowers to come forward.
“I was assuming he’d protect me,” German says.
Instead, German says his accusations were ignored, his reputation ruined and his career obliterated. Although the Justice Department’s inspector general confirmed German’s allegations that the FBI had “mishandled and mismanaged” the terrorism investigation, he says he was barred from further undercover work and eventually compelled to resign. FBI spokesman Bill Carter declined to comment.
The experience is familiar to other government employees who have blown the whistle on matters of national security since 9/11.
Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the average number of employees filing whistle-blower disclosures with the government has risen 43%, from an average of 376 annually in the four years before the attacks to 537 annually after. The statistics are kept by the Office of the Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative agency that handles whistle-blower cases if employees prefer not to directly confront their bosses about suspicions of wrongdoing.
An increasing number of whistle-blowers allege that rather than being embraced, they’re being retaliated against for coming forward.
In the four years before the terrorist attacks, whistle-blowers filed an average of 690 reprisal complaints with the OSC annually. Since the attacks, an average of 835 complaints have been filed each year, a 21% increase.
The number of whistle-blower reprisal complaints is higher than the number of whistle-blower disclosure complaints because employees can file reprisal complaints with the OSC even if they had not previously filed their disclosure with the OSC.
“The sad reality is that rather than learning lessons from 9/11, the government appears to have become more thin-skinned and sensitive,” says Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a non-profit group that offers legal aid to whistle-blowers.
Even advocates have begun to dissuade some government employees from coming forward.
“When I get calls from people thinking of blowing the whistle, I tell them ‘Don’t do it,’ “ says William Weaver, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and a senior adviser to the National Security whistle-blowers Coalition. “Most of the time they go ahead and do it anyway and end up with their lives destroyed.”
Those who come forward often face harassment, investigation, character assassination and firing — not to mention the toll their whistle-blowing takes on their families, Weaver and Devine say.
Lack of protection
For those who are fired or have their security clearances revoked — tantamount to firing in the intelligence agencies — there is little recourse.
Most national security whistle-blowers are not protected from retaliation by law. That’s because the intelligence-gathering agencies are exempted from the 1989 whistle-blower Protection Act, which guarantees investigations into disclosures made by federal employees and protects whistle-blowers from retaliation.
Whistle-blowers employed by these agencies must seek recourse within the same agency they are blowing the whistle on. And even if the investigators within their own agency confirm reprisal allegations, the investigators have no power to remedy the situation.
Devine says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled against whistle-blowers in 125 of 127 of the reprisal cases seen by the court since 1994. “They’ve gutted the law,” Devine says, “and it’s degenerated into a rubber stamp for retaliation.”
Lawmakers recently considered two sets of legislation that would affect whistle-blowers. One attempted to extend the whistle-blower Protection Act to cover intelligence agency employees through amendments to the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill.
In October, a conference committee removed the whistle-blower amendments from the final version of the bill.
The other bill that might affect whistle-blowers stiffens penalties for knowingly leaking classified information to those not authorized to receive it. That bill was introduced by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., in response to recent leaks to the media about national security programs, says Bond’s press secretary, Rob Ostrander.
“When classified information is printed in the newspapers, it’s not just Americans who read it,” Ostrander says. “It’s also America’s enemies.”
Bond’s legislation would make prosecuting leakers easier by eliminating the need to prove the disclosure damaged national security. The measure would subject those who leak classified information to a fine and up to three years in prison. It would apply to those who signed a non-disclosure agreement, regardless of their job at the time of the leak.
The bill uses language identical to that in a 2000 bill — dubbed the “Official Secrets Act,” after a similar British law — that was vetoed by President Clinton. It has been endorsed by the Association of Intelligence Officers, a 31-year-old group of 4,500 current and former intelligence officers.
Bond’s legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it does not make it to a floor vote by the end of this session, he will have to resubmit it when the next session begins in January.
The National Security whistle-blowers Coalition, the Government Accountability Project and various media organizations have criticized the legislation and claimed it would deter whistle-blowers from coming forward.
Ostrander says, “There are adequate opportunities for whistle-blowers to contact superiors and the federal inspector general’s office or their own representatives” without leaking classified information to outside sources.
National security whistle-blowers who have come forward since 9/11 aren’t so sure.
Many had been star employees at the top of the pay scale and had spent decades in civil service before blowing the whistle. The median number of years of government service for National Security whistle-blowers Coalition members is 22 years, says Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistle-blower who founded the coalition. Edmonds and others worry that fear of committing career suicide may dissuade others from coming forward.
“I’m one of the last people who survived,” says Rowley, the former FBI whistle-blower and Time magazine “Person of the Year” who recently lost her bid for a U.S. congressional seat in Minnesota. She says widespread, favorable media coverage saved her FBI career
“But is that the important story here — that one person in the country has been fired or is not being used to their fullest potential?” she asks. “It’s the country that’s going to suffer from a lack of whistle-blower protections.”
August 28, 2006
HURRICANE EXPERT THREATENED
FOR PRE-KATRINA WARNINGS
A Greg Palast special investigation for Democracy Now!
DON’T blame the Lady. Katrina killed no one in this town. In fact, Katrina missed the city completely, going wide to the east.
It wasn’t the hurricane that drowned, suffocated, de-hydrated and starved 1,500 people that week. The killing was done by a deadly duo: a failed emergency evacuation plan combined with faulty levees. Behind these twin failures lies a tale of cronyism, profiteering and willful incompetence that takes us right to the steps of the White House.
Here’s the story you haven’t been told. And the man who revealed it to me, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, is putting his job on the line to tell it.
Van Heerden isn’t the typical whistleblower I usually deal with. This is no minor player. He’s the Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center. He’s the top banana in the field — no one knew more about how to save New Orleans from a hurricane’s devastation. And no one was a bigger target of an official and corporate campaign to bury the information.
Here’s what happened. Right after Katrina swamped the city, I called Washington to get a copy of the evacuation plan.
Funny thing about the murderously failed plan for the evacuation of New Orleans: no one can find it. That’s right. It’s missing. Maybe it got wet and sank in the flood. Whatever: no one can find it.
That’s real bad. Here’s the key thing about a successful emergency evacuation plan: you have to have copies of it. Lots of copies — in fire houses and in hospitals and in the hands of every first responder. Secret evacuation plans don’t work.
I know, I worked on the hurricane evacuation plan for Long Island New York, an elaborate multi-volume dossier.
Specifically, I’m talking about the plan that was written, or supposed to have been written two years ago by a company called, “Innovative Emergency Management.”
Weird thing about IEM, their founder Madhu Beriwal, had no known experience in hurricane evacuations. She did, however, have a lot of experience in donating to Republicans.
IEM and FEMA did begin a draft of a plan. The plan was that, when a hurricane hit, everyone in the Crescent City would simply get the hell out in their cars. Apparently, the IEM/FEMA crew didn’t know that 127,000 people in the city didn’t have cars. But Dr. van Heerden knew that. It was his calculation. LSU knew where these no-car people were — they mapped it — and how to get them out.
Dr. van Heerden offered this life-saving info to FEMA. They wouldn’t touch it. Then, a state official told him to shut up, back off or there would be consequences for van Heerden’s position. This official now works for IEM.
So I asked him what happened as a result of making no plans for those without wheels, a lot of them elderly and most of them poor.
“Fifteen-hundred of them drowned. That’s the bottom line.” The professor, who’d been talking to me in technicalities, changed to a somber tone. “They’re still finding corpses.”
Van Heerden is supposed to keep his mouth shut. He won’t. The deaths weigh on him. “I wasn’t going to listen to those sort of threats, to let them shut me down.”
Van Heerden had other disturbing news. The Hurricane Center’s computer models showed the federal government had built the levees around the city a foot-and-a-half too short.
After Katrina, the Hurricane Center analyzed the flooding and found that, had the levees had just that extra 18 inches, they would have been “overtopped” for only an hour and a half, not four hours. In that case, the levees would have held, and the city would have been saved.
He had taken the warning about the levees all the way to George Bush’s doorstep. “I myself briefed senior officials including somebody from the White House.” The response: the university’s trustees threatened his job.
While in Baton Rouge, I dropped in on the headquarters of IEM, the evacuation contractors. The assistant to the CEO insisted they had “a lot of experience with evacuation” — but couldn’t name a single city they’d planned for when they got the Big Easy contract. And still, they couldn’t produce the plan.
An IEM press release in June 2004 boasted legendary expert James Lee Witt as a member of their team. That was impressive. It was also a lie. In fact, Witt had nothing to do with it. When I asked IEM point blank if Witt’s name was used as a fraudulent hook to get the contract, their spokeswoman said, weirdly, “We’ll get back to you on that.”
Back at LSU, van Heerden astonished me with the most serious charge of all. While showing me huge maps of the flooding, he told me the White House had withheld the information that, in fact, the levees were about to burst and by Tuesday at dawn the city, and more than a thousand people, would drown.
Van Heerden said, “FEMA knew on Monday at 11 o’clock that the levees had breached… They took video. By midnight on Monday the White House knew. But none of us knew …I was at the State Emergency Operations Center.” Because the hurricane had missed the city that Monday night, evacuation effectively stopped, assuming the city had survived.
It’s been a full year now, and 73,000 New Orleanians remain in FEMA trailers and another 200,000, more than half the city’s former residents, remain in temporary refuges. “The City That Care Forgot” — that’s their official slogan — lost a higher percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II. It would be more accurate to call it, “The City That Bush Forgot.”
Should they come home? Rebuild? Is it safe? Team Bush assures them there’s nothing to worry about: FEMA won’t respond to van Heerden’s revelations. However, the Bush Administration has hired a consulting firm to fix the failed evacuation plan. The contractor? A Baton Rouge company named “Innovative Emergency Management.” IEM.
NEW SONGS BY “THE WHISTLER”
* * * * *
August 20, 2006
Whistleblowers say ordeal
not worth it
By Rob Perez, Honolulu Advertiser
George Smith Jr. wouldn’t do it again.
Neither would Kenneth Mersburgh, Solomon Silva, Norman Salsedo nor Charles Wiggins.
All five were Hawai’i whistleblowers whose reports of wrongdoing the past several years led to criminal prosecutions of fellow government workers for charges ranging from theft to bribery.
While cracking down on illegal activities was a positive outcome, the five said the retaliation they suffered for stepping forward was so great that they would keep their mouths shut if faced with similar circumstances again.
“It’s sad to say (that), but it just wasn’t worth what I went through and what my family went through,” said Wiggins, a former Honolulu Liquor Commission investigator whose testimony helped convict eight fellow investigators but who eventually left the state because of the fallout.
Smith, who suffered retaliation after disclosing abuses at Kailua Wastewater Treatment Plant, said the stress contributed to health problems and became a major drag on his life. “You end up bringing your problems home. You don’t sleep at night. It snowballs right to the bottom of whatever you’re involved with,” he said.
As the state and city in recent years have taken steps to encourage more people to report fraud and other wrongdoing, Smith, Wiggins and others who have gone through the process say it generates so much strain at work and home that they would advise others to think twice about stepping forward.
Not even the prospect of a sizeable financial award would be enough to tilt the balance, they say.
Two other whistleblowers said they would do it again, either because they were obligated as law enforcement officers to do so or because they believed people were being physically harmed. But even they advised caution, noting the constant harassment they endured.
If government insiders are reluctant to blow the whistle, the public can pay a hefty price. Fraud and waste can go unchecked.
Had two whistleblowers not stepped forward, for instance, to disclose billing irregularities at the state’s largest long-term-care provider, Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, the state may not have reached a 2003 settlement that resulted in more than $1 million in penalties and reimbursements going to the government.
The two Hale Nani whistleblowers split a $250,000 reward.
ADVICE: DON’T DO IT
The fallout that whistleblowers tend to suffer is not a problem unique to Hawai’i. No matter the setting, those who go public with charges of wrongdoing often are branded as snitches or troublemakers, bucking in some cases an accepted workplace culture.
Stepping forward can be so traumatic that the Government Accountability Project, a national nonprofit group that defends whistleblowers, doesn’t advise people to do it.
“It weighs so heavily on a person’s life that we don’t actively encourage it,” said Dylan Blaylock, the project’s communication director. “We leave that decision to the person.”
Two recent cases in which Honolulu government workers won their whistleblower lawsuits underscore the difficulties such tipsters can face — even when they prevail at trial, which is rare. Most cases are resolved before going to trial.
Howard Tom Sun, a city painter, alleged that he was written up in 2000 by his supervisor, isolated, not given job duties and denied leave after he reported concerns about workplace hazards, including discovering a punctured gasoline tank at the Pali Municipal Golf Course. At one point, Tom Sun said in a sworn affidavit, a supervisor called Tom Sun’s co-workers to a meeting and threatened them if they helped with his whistleblower case.
A year ago, a federal jury found in favor of Tom Sun and awarded him $1.5 million in damages. At the time, Tom Sun said the jury was sending a message to the city that it should be more concerned about its workers and the public.
But U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren several months later virtually wiped out the award, reducing the amount to $1. Although Kurren upheld the jury’s findings that Tom Sun’s constitutional rights were violated after he spoke out, the judge ruled that Tom Sun failed to prove any actual damages and therefore was entitled to only a nominal award of $1. Kurren also denied Tom Sun’s request that the city pay his attorney fees, which totaled more than $147,000, according to court records.
In his January written ruling, the judge noted that Tom Sun continued to work as a city painter, that his duties and work conditions appeared to be unchanged and that the city’s policies for painters essentially remained the same.
“In short, this litigation accomplished little beyond giving to the plaintiff the satisfaction of having a court recognize that his constitutional rights were violated,” Kurren wrote.
Venetia Carpenter-Asui, Tom Sun’s attorney, argued that the court denied her client the opportunity at trial to provide evidence regarding damages. In a court filing, she asked for a new trial, but Kurren denied that request as well.
Carpenter-Asui and Tom Sun did not respond to Advertiser requests for comment.
Although favorable jury verdicts for plaintiffs are rare in whistleblower cases in Hawai’i — only a few have been reported over the past decade — a second one came in May.
A state jury found that the city retaliated against Smith, Silva and Salsedo, who at one time all worked at the Kailua sewage treatment plant, for reporting suspected wrongdoing several years ago. The jury awarded each $25,000 in damages.
The jury did not find in favor of Mersburgh, another plant worker and the fourth plaintiff in the lawsuit. Mersburgh was the first to report suspected wrongdoing to police and prompted the other three to come forward.
Their whistle-blowing led to an investigation that resulted in one Kailua plant supervisor, Harry Hauck, pleading guilty in 2004 to theft, and another supervisor, Jay Gonsalves, pleading no contest last year to theft.
Silva and Salsedo told police they were taken by Hauck to work on a sprinkler system at the home of Gonsalves’ relative while on overtime with the city. Hauck and Gonsalves were friends. Salsedo told police in one instance in 2002 he spent more than four hours at the private residence.
Yet after the wrongdoing came to light, both supervisors were promoted while the four rank-and-file employees suffered retaliation, the workers said.
“The system is a failure,” Silva said.
In court documents, Hauck’s attorney even cited the fact that his client was promoted after being disciplined to argue that the criminal charges should be dismissed because the case was old. Two bribery charges subsequently were dropped.
For at least three of the four whistleblowers, their lives have since taken a turn for the worse. Mersburgh is on unpaid leave, and Smith is fighting the city over compensation issues for a planned retirement he said was hastened by the retaliation. Silva was fired for allegedly threatening a supervisor. The jury ruled the firing did not violate his rights, but Silva said the incident happened because of the retaliation.
Only Salsedo, a mechanic now working at the city’s Sand Island treatment plant, has fared better on the job, having been promoted twice. But even he believes the system leaves whistleblowers unprotected from harassment. He said he was the target of threatening and intimidating comments, sometimes even getting calls at home.
Asked if he would ever blow the whistle again, Salsedo didn’t hesitate with a reply: “I wouldn’t even think twice about opening my mouth. I would just look the other way.”
The city declined to answer questions about this case or others because they involved personnel matters, which are confidential.
Rodney Ching, Hauck’s attorney, said his client accepted responsibility for what he did but isn’t the criminal some people might make him out to be. He noted that Hauck’s guilty plea was deferred, and the city promoted him because his bosses recognized the incident was a minor blip in an otherwise stellar career.
Gonsalves’ attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
ROUGH ROAD TO COURT
It is unusual for whistleblower cases to enter the court arena, partly because attorneys are reluctant to take them on unless the potential for damages is enough to justify filing a lawsuit.
Over the past 12 years, the city has handled only 14 such lawsuits, according to city figures. Five, including the Tom Sun and Kailua sewage-worker cases, resulted in financial settlements or jury verdicts against the city. The settlements and verdicts totaled nearly $1.2 million. Seven of the lawsuits are still pending, while two were dismissed.
Employees can avoid the potential fallout from blowing the whistle if they do so anonymously. But workers say that usually doesn’t result in a serious investigation. Anonymity also tends to make investigating a case more difficult because investigators can’t ask follow-up questions.
While Hawai’i whistleblowers say they weren’t afforded adequate protection from retaliation, the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act is considered a strong one.
“I think Hawai’i has as broad protections as anywhere,” said attorney David Simons, who represents whistleblowers.
The law basically prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who reports or is about to report a suspected violation of law or regulation. In 2002 it was strengthened to broaden the circumstances under which the law applies and to lengthen the statute of limitations to two years, instead of 90 days.
The problem, according to those who have gone through the process, is that the law doesn’t prevent the many different ways, sometimes subtle, sometimes indirect, that a person can be harassed and intimidated before and even after a lawsuit is brought.
Detective Kenneth Kamakana, a highly decorated Honolulu Police Department officer who received $650,000 from the city in 2003 to settle a whistleblower case, said he was subject to constant harassment, had his car vandalized, was shunned by other officers and given the least desirable assignments after reporting to the FBI about alleged wrongdoing in HPD’s elite Criminal Intelligence Unit.
“It was like hell,” Kamakana said.
In a recent interview over breakfast, Kamakana said he still suffers nightmares because of the horrible experiences. Yet he said he would report suspected wrongdoing again if faced with similar circumstances because “that’s my job. If you can’t do your duty, you don’t belong in this occupation.”
Dr. Terry Allen, a former Hawai’i prison physician, likewise said he would blow the whistle again, although he probably wouldn’t pursue a civil lawsuit.
Allen was awarded $110,000 in damages from the state in 1999 for retaliation he suffered after publicly disclosing inmate abuse.
The state appealed the federal court decision, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in 2002. Allen’s attorney fees, which the state also had to pay, totaled more than $500,000.
Allen, now a Washington state resident, said the system is not designed so the typical worker can fight back. The tremendous amount of time and cost involved in taking such a fight to court — with no guarantee of winning — makes the process beyond the reach of most people, he said.
‘DAVID VS. GOLIATH’
Attorney Michael Lilly, a former state attorney general, said he’s turned down hundreds of people who had meritorious whistleblower or wrongful termination cases over the years, not because they lacked merit but because the potential damages didn’t justify pursuing litigation.
“We’re talking about in most cases David vs. Goliath,” Lilly said. “Those employees are taking on a gorilla who has most of the evidence” and tremendous resources to devote to a case.
Many people don’t even bother to call attorneys, let alone report their concerns to superiors.
Randy Perreira, deputy executive director of the Hawai’i Government Employees Association, said he hears about cases in which workers are reluctant to speak up because of retaliation fears.
“That feeling is very real,” he said.
Perreira noted that the union in a few cases in recent years has pursued grievances on behalf of employees who alleged they were retaliated against.
To encourage people to report fraud against the government, the state enacted a law in 2001 that allows whistleblowers to get a percentage of money recovered by the government.
Attorney Tom Grande, who has represented clients using that statute, believes it has had a major effect on not only recovering money for the government but stopping practices that hurt the delivery of healthcare to seniors and the poor.
In one such case, the state reached a $4 million settlement in a medical-fraud lawsuit in 2001, and the two pharmaceutical company employees who disclosed the illegal recycling of prescription drugs split $750,000.
TREATED LIKE ‘A PARIAH’
The city encourages workers to report misconduct and provides a variety of ways, including a complaint line, to make such reports.
Whenever a city employee files a complaint about another worker, both parties are reminded that retaliation is prohibited, according to city spokesman Bill Brennan.
When the whistleblower law works, the wrongdoing is identified, corrected and no retaliation occurs, Brennan said.
He questioned the notion that few cases come to light because employees are afraid to report suspected wrongdoing. “In the end, there may not be anything about which to ‘blow the whistle,’ ” Brennan said in a written response.
Wiggins, the former city liquor inspector, said the city didn’t seem to welcome his stepping forward. The city never even thanked him for his role in helping federal authorities get convictions of the other liquor inspectors, he said.
“The city treated me like I was a pariah, (like) I was the bad guy,” he said.
In 2003, Wiggins settled his whistleblower lawsuit against the city for $387,500. The government did not admit liability.
But even after Wiggins moved to the Mainland, the case continued to haunt him.
Wiggins said he was turned down for numerous law enforcement jobs after the agencies learned he was a whistleblower. “No one wants to hire one,” he said. “It was like poison.”
Only three months ago, Wiggins landed his first job in law enforcement since leaving Hawai’i. He was hired as an investigator for the Virginia public defender’s office. But Wiggins said his nine years with HPD and his nine years with the liquor commission were not counted toward his salary, essentially meaning he is getting rookie pay.
Despite all that has happened, Wiggins doesn’t regret blowing the whistle. But he said his experience sends a clear message to others contemplating blowing the whistle. “What it says is you’re better off keeping your mouth shut,” he said.
For more, GO TO > > > Confessions of a Whistleblower
August 16, 2006
FBI probes bank over
alleged fraud cover-up
By Rick Daysog, Honolulu Advertiser
The FBI is investigating claims that American Savings Bank officials tried to cover up theft, including one case in which a bank employee allegedly took several hundred thousand dollars from a 91-year-old customer.
FBI agents interviewed the bank’s former security director Bert Corniel yesterday after he charged in a lawsuit that the bank asked him to stop reporting fraud cases to federal and state officials, said John Perkin, Corniel’s attorney.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Johnson, who prosecutes federal crimes in Hawai’i, said yesterday he could not confirm or deny that an investigation is under way. A person at the Honolulu FBI office said late yesterday the bureau had no immediate comment.
The bank said the charges are false and it is cooperating with the FBI investigation.
“Although we cannot comment on the investigation, we can say that we have and will continue to cooperate and provide investigators with all the relevant information as it is requested,” said American Savings Bank in a written statement. “Mr. Corniel’s concerns … were thoroughly investigated and found to be without merit.”
Corniel and bank customer Ada Lim, 91, alleged in separate lawsuits filed on Aug. 2 that a manager at a bank branch took hundreds of thousands of dollars from Lim.
Lim deposited more than $600,000 into her American Savings account in 2004, only to have most of the money siphoned out of her account by the bank employee, who was helping to manage Lim’s finances, the lawsuits allege. The bank employee opened an account with Bank of Hawaii and deposited various sums from Lim totalling $304,000, according to Lim’s lawsuit. The bank employee bought a condominium using $110,000 of Lim’s money, the suit claims.
Corniel said in January 2005, when he was investigating the Lim case, the bank employee confessed to him that she took the money. American Savings officials said the transfer was a loan from Lim to the employee, Corniel said.
Corniel said American Savings officials told him not to report the fraud as required by law to federal regulators and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
For more, GO TO > > > American Savings Bank: Behind the Blinds
June 23, 2006
Message from a 9-11 Whistle-blower
From 8th Estate Public Media & Research:
My name is Richard Grove …
In the summer of 2001, I was terminated from my job for raising questions about “anomalous” fiscal transactions.
On August 21st, 2001, I was bribed by my ex-employer to “keep quiet”.
On September 7th, 2001, I contacted ex-coworkers and was urged to present my evidence in a staff meeting the following Tuesday morning.
The staff meeting, which I was to join during a break, was interrupted; and I never made it there. I was in traffic in Lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11th, 2001; and the meeting I was to attend was on the 96th floor of WTC 1 (the North Tower) at Marsh & McLennan, the company for whom my ex-employer had been staffing a software project.
There I sat in traffic, watching black smoke pour out of the hole in the side of the building- directly where my ex-coworkers and I were to confront a certain Marsh Executive involved with the anomalous financial activity that triggered my untimely termination.
As I’ve learned more, and more about what happened that day, I’ve focused less on the controversial “How” (i.e. HOW the real terrorists perpetrated a multi-dimensional plan through which they would simultaneously undermine the Constitution, steal hundreds of billions of dollars, profitably solve an “unsolvable” real-estate crises, and launch a never-ending crusade throughout the globe in the name of the terrorist attacks that they themselves created).
Instead I’ve focused on the “Who” and “Why”, as the financial records left in the wake of their exodus following their crimes is much easier to prove in Court- specifically Marsh’s involvement in betting against American Airlines pre-9-11… a clear indicator of foreknowledge, as the insider trading of the airline stocks was clearly a pre-meditative strategy, determined to profit from the mass murder…
To summarize, what I’ve discovered … based on my own personal experiences and research, not based on what the mass media and traditional newspapers have programmed me to repeat:
1. The events of September 11th, 2001(as extensive research and factual documentation depict) do not resemble in any way, shape, or form, what has been faithfully recited ad nauseam by the mainstream media and press within the United States.
2. The aforementioned mainstream media and press are very much aware at the helms of all organizations, and are provably complicit to the state sponsored terrorism that affects each and every one of us…
3. The evidence reflects that people who we trust and revere as “leaders”, specifically: Rudolph Guiliani (ex-New York Mayor, 2008 Presidential hopeful), George Pataki (current Governor of New York), Eliot Spitzer (New York State Attorney General, running for New York State Governor), and of course, the 1970’s White House “Team B” (now known as neo-cons – or “new-cons”, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz) right up through George H.W. Bush, and the current President George W. Bush… are in fact working on the Terrorists behalf, if they are not the Terrorists themselves (and at the very least, are all professional gangsters).
4. In order for 9-11 to be perpetrated, the Terrorists needed control of elements of the highest echelons of the Intelligence Community and the Defense Department…
5. In order for 9-11 to be “successful” in the eyes of the Terrorists, total control of the U.S. Media Markets was necessary….
6. Critical Elements of the Intelligence Community of the United States, as well as the U.S. Military, in association with NATO, have been strictly controlling and manipulating Black Markets, Arms Markets, and, specifically in reference to 9-11, the Global Illicit Drug Market.
7. American International Group, a.k.a. AIG (is the world’s largest insurance company). Until recently AIG’s CEO (as you will soon learn elsewhere throughout 8thestate.com) was Maurice “Hammerin’ Hank” Greenberg; ex-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and ex-Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). AIG’s foundation grew out of Cornelius V. Starr’s “insurance work” between China and the U.S. in 1919. AIG since the 1950’s has been a front created by U.S. Intelligence interests for the purpose of laundering drug money, under the ruse of Insurance, and noting that C.V. Starr’s career in Intelligence and AIG’s ties to the “Air America” Military Drug Caravan were not coincidental.
8. The “Terrorists” are those who participate in and profit from the Global Illegal Drug Market, and the people who are in the front lines of controlling this market are Politicians, Media Moguls, Military Officers, Intelligence Directors, Insurance Companies, and the Counter Terrorist “Experts” themselves….
The hundreds of billions of dollars in illegal drug money that is annually laundered via this scheme is then “processed” through the U.S. Stock Market, and aggregated by companies like AIG and Marsh & McLennan (the world’s largest Insurance Broker, which until Eliot Spitzer’s pseudo-investigation had Jeff Greenberg, Hank’s son, as it’s CEO) with the help of companies like Kroll Associates (Private Intelligence Firm responsible for World Trade Center Security from 1993 to 2001, coincidentally owned by AIG and sold to Marsh in 2004… Kroll CEO Michael Cherkasky became Marsh CEO in response to Spitzer’s “investigation” into AIG and Marsh).
Who is Michael Cherkasky? Great question. He brought Eliot Spitzer into the NY City District Attorney’s Office way back when, and is a contributor to Spitzer’s campaign to become New York Governor….
We’re ALL affected by 9-11 in ways that most people never take time to fathom… but there are SOLUTIONS, and yes, even a panacea.
It’s called Communication…
The 8th Estate is the state of being where one thinks for themselves, and enjoys the state of infinite possibility and hope…
Richard Andrew Grove
Richard Andrew Grove has extensively documented massive fraud and conspiracy which compromises the very foundation of American’s financial institutions. He names names and spotlights 2.3 trillion of taxpayers money, a trillion in gold bullion and hundreds of billions in pre-911 stock market trades which records were conveniently covered-up in the collapse of the WTC. This is the whistleblower that will collapse the 911 fraud! – and the largest single theft and continuous theft in known history. FOLLOW THE MONEY!
For more, GO TO > > > The Eagle Hooded – Part III
~ ~ ~
Get your FREE DOWNLOAD of Richard Grove’s revealing book
by clicking here
Sibel Dinez Edmonds, a Turkish-American, was “hired as a translator by the FBI shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 because of her knowledge of Middle Eastern languages. She was fired less than a year later in March 2002 for reporting shoddy work and security breaches to her supervisors that could have prevented those attacks.” 
“On January 14, 2004, the Justice Department’s Office unclassified summary of the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s report on Edmonds found that many of her claims ‘were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.’” 
On April 21, 2005, a “day after taking the extraordinary step of ordering a secret hearing,” the Washington, D.C., U.S. Court of Appeals “denied pleas to open the former FBI translator’s First Amendment case to the public,” taking what James Ridgeway called “another twist…, as the government continued its seemingly endless machinations to shut her up.” 
Edmonds’ March 2, 2005, Testimony
After the Department of Justice succeeded in April 2004 to quash her testimony in “a class action lawsuit over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,” on March 2, 2005, Sibel Edmonds made her Statement Before the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and Internal Relations. The essence of Edmond’s opening statement was “Emerging Threats: Overclassification and Pseudo-classification.”
Background: FBI Whistleblower
On July 13, 2003, CBS News’ posted an October 2002 interview by Ed Bradley with Edmonds. The introduction states that:
“This is the story of hundreds, if not thousands, of foreign language documents that the FBI neglected to translate before and after the Sept.11 attacks because of problems in its language department – documents that detailed what the FBI heard on wiretaps and learned during interrogations of suspected terrorists.”
Edmonds said that “the documents weren’t translated because the divison was riddled with incompetence and corruption.”
The Department of Justice “has taken the unusual step of retroactively classifying information it gave to Congress nearly two years ago regarding a former F.B.I. translator who charged that the bureau had missed critical terrorist warnings, officials said [May 19, 2004].”
“Law enforcement officials say the secrecy surrounding the translator, Sibel Edmonds, is essential to protecting information that could reveal intelligence-gathering operations. But some members of Congress and Congressional aides said they were troubled by the move, which comes as critics have accused the Bush administration of excessive secrecy.” 
The Independent UK‘s Andrew Buncombe reported on April 26, 2004, that the Bush administration’s Department of Justice is seeking to keep Edmonds from “providing evidence about 11 September intelligence failures to a group of relatives and survivors who have accused international banks and officials of aiding al-Qa’ida.” 
“Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed by a law firm representing more than 500 family members and survivors of the attacks to testify that she had seen information proving there was considerable evidence before September 2001 that al-Qa’ida was planning to strike the US with aircraft. The lawyers made their demand after reading comments Mrs Edmonds had made to The Independent.” 
DOJ “is seeking to stop her from testifying, citing the rarely used ‘state secrets privilege’ … senior government lawyers will try to gag Mrs Edmonds, claiming that disclosure of her evidence ‘would cause serious damage to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States’.” 
Tom Flocco wrote April 27, 2004, that Edmonds “did not back down regarding reported evidence she uncovered implicating espionage in the FBI and State Department when we recently asked whether she thought the explosive information would ever see the light of day.” 
“‘As you know, I cannot say much about that’,” Edmonds said, “‘but why do you think Attorney General John Ashcroft asserted State Secret Privilege in my case when I decided to go public with what I had found in the translations?’ … Justice Department lawyers at the request of FBI Director Robert Mueller invoked the arcane legal procedure which even allows the withholding of evidence documents from the judge,” Flocco wrote. 
“The translator alluded to additional but more volatile allegations in a phone call on Friday night to Kyle Hence, cofounder of 9-11 Citizens Watch, who said in a widely distributed email that Edmonds told him ‘if what she knows is revealed, it could lead to charges of treason being leveled against officials at top levels of the U.S. government,'” Flocco wrote. 
“Hence added, ‘If that is the case, then all those who have been involved in keeping this information from getting to the public are complicit in this treason.'” 
Flocco cautioned that “Americans might not have to wait too long to find out,” as in a Washington, DC courtroom on April 27, 2004, “FBI attorneys will appear before Judge Reginald Walton in an attempt to block attorney Ronald Motley’s subpoena request to depose Edmonds as a witness for his $1 trillion lawsuit on behalf of 9-11 families to tell what she knows about prior warnings of the attacks.” 
In “DOJ Asked FBI Translator To Change Pre 9-11 Intercepts,” Tom Flocco wrote March 24, 2004:
“Attorney General John Ashcroft told me ‘he was invoking State Secret Privilege and National Security‘ when I told the FBI I wanted to go public with what I had translated from the pre 9-11 intercepts”.
Edmonds said, “My translations of the pre 9-11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date specific information enough to alert the American people, and other issues dating back to 1999 which I won’t go into right now.”
Incredibly, Edmonds said “The senate Judiciary Committee, and the 911 Commission have heard me testify for lengthy periods of time (3 hours) about very specific plots, dates, airplanes used as weapons, and specific individuals and activities.”
This explosive information has been kept under wraps by the White House, CIA, FBI, and DOJ since Edmond’s 60 Minutes interview segment.
In the “Sept. 11 commission cites intelligence agency failures,” Chris Strohm wrote March 24, 2004:
Edmonds said that the FBI had “real, specific” information relating to the Sept. 11 attacks before they happened. Sibel Edmonds worked for the agency working from Sept. 20, 2001 to March 2002.
“Edmonds said she was hired to retranslate material that was collected prior to Sept. 11 to determine if anything was missed in the translations that related to the plot. In her review, Edmonds said the documents clearly showed that the Sept. 11 hijackers were in the country and plotting to use airplanes as missiles. The documents also included information relating to their financial activities. Edmonds said she could not comment in detail because she has been under a Justice Department gag order since October 2002.
“Edmonds has testified before the Sept. 11 commission, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.”
Wrongful Dismissal Suit
Edmonds sued in July 2002 to contest her firing from the FBI. However, the suit was dismissed in July 2004 by Judge Reggie Walton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked a rarely used power and declared the case as falling under “state secret” privilege.
The A.C.L.U. joined her cause in January 2005, when it asked the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reinstate her suit against the government. 
In February 2005, lawyers for the government said in a brief filed with the court that the suit could not continue without “disclosing privileged and classified information”, and would therefore cause “significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” 
Reclassification of Testimony
“The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) sued the Justice Department and Attorney General John Ashcroft in June 2004 claiming the retroactive classification of Edmond’s testimony was a violation of the First Amendment.” 
Related SourceWatch Resources:
9-11 Truth Movement links to other 9/11 investigation pages
For more > > > Office of the U.S. Trustee vs. Harmon – Witness: Sibel Edmonds; The Freedom To Sing; The Secret Nests: The FBI; Harmon’s Claims to the FBI
March 23, 2005
Israel Trying to Gag
Institute for Public Accuracy
Vanunu exposed the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal in 1986. He was released from prison in April 2004 after serving an 18-year sentence, most of it in solitary confinement.
Since then, Israeli authorities have placed numerous restrictions on his activities and attempted to prevent him from speaking to non-Israelis or media. Last week, a Knesset committee hearing on his case was abruptly cancelled and Vanunu was indicted for violating the Israeli government restrictions. The charges include speaking to various media and attempting to attend Christmas Eve Mass in Bethlehem. [The charge sheet is available online.]
Despite the prospect of being taken to prison again, Vanunu is continuing to speak to journalists. Reached yesterday by the Institute for Public Accuracy, Vanunu said: “The charges against me are another total failure of Israeli democracy. They are not ready to admit that I am alive, free and have survived 17 and a half years of barbaric treatment. They are unable to respect my most elementary rights of freedom of speech.”
March 4, 2005
Coleen Rowley: FBI missed chance
to unravel 9-11 Plot
Former FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley once wrote a blistering memo accusing the FBI of squandering a chance to unravel the September 11th plot.
Just three weeks before 9-11, agents in Rowley’s office uncovered that Islamic extremist Zacarias Moussaoui had paid for lessons to fly a Boeing 747. They arrested him, but her superiors at FBI headquarters refused to let them seek a warrant to search his laptop computer, a move that may have changed the course of history.
Her view from inside America’s war on terror has given her a unique perspective finding the balance between fighting terrorism effectively and maintaining civil liberties. “We saw a need for the Patriot Act after 9/11, some things needed to change. But, that doesn’t mean it is now considered an inviolate, perfect law,” she says.
“Where is the pro-active nature now on protection of civil liberties, and putting those structures in place that will prevent a future abuse?”
* * * * *
NEW SONGS BY “THE WHISTLER”
* * * * *
THE EAGLE HOODED: THE 9-11 COVERUP
PART I – PART II – PART III
THE NATIONAL WHISTLEBLOWER CENTER
MORE TO COME (Maybe)
To see more of what’s going on behind closed doors
down at the whistleblower slaughter house…
American Savings Bank: Behind the Blinds
The Bankruptcy Buzzards
Broken Trust: The Book
Buzzards in the Bank of Hawaii
Buzzards in The Boyd Group
Claims By Harmon
Confessions of a Whistleblower
Delta Airlines: Flying with the Bankruptcy Buzzards
DIRTY MONEY, DIRTY POLITICS & BISHOP ESTATE
Part I – Part II – Part III – Part IV – Part V – Part VI
First Hawaiian Bank: Conquered by the French in ‘98
The Freedom to Sing
The Hawaiian Insurance Companies
I Sing the Hawaiian Electric
Kroll the Conspirator
The Marsh Birds
Marsh & McLennan’s Mercer Consulting
New Songs by “The Whistler”
An Octopus Named Wackenhut
Of Vampires and Daisies
Office of the U.S. Trustee vs Harmon
The Puna Connection
RICO in Paradise
The Rise and Fall of Summit Communications
The Secret Lives of Duke and Dusty
Sukamto Sia: The Indonesian Connection
Tinkering with e-Toys
Vultures in the Meadows
Vultures in The Nature Conservancy
Vultures of the Sandwich Isles
Vultures up to their beaks in Tesoro Petroleum
Who’s Guarding the Henhut?
~ ~ ~
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Last Update December 22, 2006, by The Catbird