On November 21, 2008, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) presented a seminar on the new whistleblower protection in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.Continue Reading...
According to a report in today's Washington Times, a leading FBI whistleblower has direct knowledge that illegal activities occurred in the highly controversial and top secret National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. The whistleblower, Supervisory Special Agent Bassem Youssef, is the highest ranking Arab American agent employed in the FBI's counterterrorism division. His earlier concerns, that top FBI terrorism managers lacked expertise and experience in terrorism matters, were documented in a highly controversial deposition in which the former head of the FBI's Middle Eastern counterterrorism program testified that he did not know the difference between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
Below is a January 2008 video of Bassem Youssef and his attorney Stephen Kohn discussing FBI procedures and civil liberties issues at the American Library Association's National Winter Conference.
National Whistleblowers Center Announces the First Training Seminar Covering Whistleblower Rights Under the Newly Enacted Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008
Protections Expanded to Workers Who Expose Safety Defects in Imported Consumer Products and Violations of the Consumer Products Safety Act and the Hazardous Substances Acts
Washington, D.C. November 8, 2008. The National Whistleblower Center is sponsoring the first training seminar covering the newly enacted whistleblower protection provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008. The new law contains groundbreaking whistleblower protections covering millions of workers employed in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of consumer goods. The Act contains strong pro-employee provisions, including the right to a trial by jury, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees and costs.
The all-day seminars are being held in the Taft Room at the Willard InterContinental Hotel,
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. on November 21, 2008.
The new law protects workers who blow the whistle on safety problems in over 15,000 different types of consumer products, including Asbestos, benzene, bicycle helmets, blasting caps, carpets and rugs, caustic or corrosive substances, flammable products, fabrics, fireworks, gasoline, toxic substances, imported consumer products, lead paint, and toys. The protections extend beyond the Consumer Products Safety Act, an include disclosures concerning violations of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the Flammable Fabrics Act, and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act.
This is the first seminar specifically designed to train whistleblowers and their advocates in the mechanics of the Act, and how this law would protect workers who blow the whistle on toxic toys and other dangerous consumer products. Commencing at 9 a.m., the program consists of four seminars covering all aspects of the new law. It is designed to assist workers and their lawyers in effectively presenting claims. CLE credit is available to attorneys.
To review the full program and faculty click here. A registration fee of $495.00 is required, but scholarships are available. Whistleblowers, students, community activists, and members of the press who wish to attend should contact Estelle S. Kohn at 202-342-1903 or email her at email@example.com
In September, as Congress was racing to put together the Wall Street bailout legislation, the National Whistleblower Center was calling for whistleblower protections to be added to the bill. Despite their efforts, Congress did not listen. They authorized the Administration to distribute $700 Billion of taxpayer money, but refused to protect employee whistleblowers who would ensure that it would be spent correctly.
ABC News has this story detailing how the Administration and Congress have done nothing to exercise oversight while the Administration is doling out billions of bailout dollars. But, even if these measures (appointing an inspector general, and setting up a congressional oversight committee) were to materialize, they still will not be effective unless we protect employees who would step forward to report the fraud.
Did you know that whistleblowers reporting under the False Claims Act have accounted for over $1 Billion in recovered federal and state taxpayer dollars this (fiscal) year alone? This Marketwatch.com article details the biggest fraud recoveries in '08, including hundreds of millions of dollars from companies such as Amerigroup, Merck, Bechtel, CVS, and Pratt & Whitney.
Despite these results, the False Claims Act (a civil war-era law that was last amended in 1986) is in need of some retooling. Senators Grassley and Leahy are pushing an amendment package (Bill # S. 2041) that would close the loopholes created by destructive Supreme Court decisions, such as Allison Engine Co. v. U.S. . this legislation should be enacted immediately. Further, because we know that the DOJ is letting hundreds of FCA cases languish without investigation, the DOJ needs to hire more civil fraud attorneys and focus more resources on ferreting out government contractor fraud.
On November 21 the National Whistleblowers Center will be holding an attorney training seminar at the historic Willard Hotel in Washington, DC. This full-day seminar will focus on America's newest whistleblower laws which were passed as part of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act of 2008.
Senator Barack Obama won the presidential election this week running as the candidate for change. The change he promised included bringing transparency and accountability back into the federal government.
During the past year, we have watched President-Elect Obama use his persuasive oratory to change the American political landscape. His oratory included strong public commitments to ensure effective government oversight and whistleblower protection. Workers desperately need a strong national whistleblower protection act. The recent authorization of 700 billion dollars to bail out Wall Street made the need to protect whistleblowers even more urgent.
As President-Elect Obama prepares to announce his appointees, he has the chance to make immediate meaningful change a reality. There are many presidential appointments that have a direct impact on workers who blow the whistle on fraud and corruption. Such positions include key appointees within the Department of Justice who oversee billions of dollars worth of contractor fraud cases.
There are also relatively unknown positions that have tremendous impact on the lives and careers of thousands of whistleblowers. For example, the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board decides federal environmental, consumer safety and Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower cases. Likewise, the Special Counsel has responsibility for protecting federal employees who expose waste fraud and corruption within the federal bureaucracy.
Both the Administrative Review Board and the Office of Special Counsel lost credibility and failed in their missions because of poor appointments by the previous administration. For example, mismanagement by the Bush-appointed Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch was so appalling that the FBI raided his home and office. Even President Bush was forced to fire him two weeks before the election.
The Office of Special Counsel is supposed to protect the public trust by shielding whistleblowers. President-Elect Obama must ensure that an experienced and competent advocate for whistleblowers is appointed as Special Counsel. He must force the Office of Special Counsel to fulfill its mandate to protect whistleblowers.
President-Elect Obama has a unique opportunity to bring change in these crucial areas that will protect workers with the courage and integrity to tell the truth. That’s the change we believe in. That is the change we hope and expect President-Elect Obama will bring to the federal government.
To view President-Elect Obama's survey responses please click here.