The Whistleblowers series returns to CBS tonight, Friday, with its true crime, network news take on “people who put everything on the line to stop illegal and often dangerous wrongdoing when major corporations or individuals rip off the government and U.S. taxpayers.”

The season premiere tells the story of police corruption and Shannon Spalding,

Two weeks after a whistleblower filed an updated federal complaint accusing the network of promoting terrorism, Facebook continues to deal with pressure about questionable content. The details of the complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission were outlined in an Associated Press story.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/%D9%87%D9%8A%D8%A6%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%85/237269353391307?timeline_context_item_type=intro_caAt issue in the complaint: the network’s failure to limit content designed

By Maya Efrati

After nearly a year of research and review, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has released a report outlining best practices for how Congressional staff should appropriately handle information from whistleblowers. Titled “Key Practices for Congress to Consider When Receiving and Referring Information,” the report focuses on what happens when federal whistleblowers reach out to their representatives in Congress, whether in the House or Senate, for help. The GAO produced the report on the request of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.

One of the ways that Congress is able to fulfill its mandate for oversight of the federal government is through receiving and acting on whistleblower information. The GAO report notes that, “[w]hile data is not available on the number of whistleblower disclosures across Congress, a staff member at one congressional office said the office can receive hundreds of whistleblower disclosures every year.” Yet too often, those whistleblowers are retaliated against for bravely speaking up about waste, fraud, and abuse. Compounding the problem, the GAO report demonstrated some existing deficiencies in the process for whistleblowers to disclose their information.

Maya Efrati head shot
Maya Efrati

Crucially, the GAO noted the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of whistleblowers who come forward with information to Congress. Key practices highlighted in the report include that Congress should “Develop… [p]rotocols to keep disclosures secure and protected, while appropriately limiting access to information on a need-to-know basis.”

This includes not only handling of sensitive or classified information provided by the whistleblower, but also  the whistleblower’s own personally identifiable information, which is any details that could allow someone to trace that person’s identity. Whistleblowers often risk their careers and more when speaking up about what they know; no whistleblower should be placed in an even more precarious situation because Congress lacks appropriate processes and guidelines to help them.


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It’s Time for Facebook to be Sanctioned for Misleading Shareholders and the Public About Terror and Hate Speech on its Website 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now has all the information it needs to sanction Facebook for its dishonesty about terror and hate content on its website, thanks to a petition filed by a whistleblower working with the National Whistleblower Center (NWC).  Today, the Associated Press published an explosive story describing and confirming the key findings in the petition. 
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The Swiss bank whistleblower who outed Americans’ secret USB bank accounts says he has information on more wrongdoing. Bradley Birkenfeld, who is described on his website as the “worlds most celebrated whistleblower,”  appeared at an offshore fraud and financial services conference in Miami in April. Birkenfeld was “treated like a celebrity,” reported journalist Brian Ross, who covered the event for Law & Crime Network, a legal website and streaming service.

The National Whistleblower Center supported Mr. Birkenfeld in his case, which involved a $20 billion tax evasion scheme.


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A former White House security officer has denied he was under pressure from Trump administration superiors to approve security clearances, according to reports of his interview with Congressional investigators earlier this week.

His comments are a response to charges levied by Tricia Newbold, a White House staffer who in March reported security clearance problems to Congress. White House officials overruled security staff and granted clearances to 25 employees, she told the House committee.     

 From The New York Times:

Carl Kline, the former director of the White House’s Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee this week that he had overruled the recommendations of his staff and approved security clearances for White House officials on his own authority, and denied that President Trump or anyone else had directed him to do it.
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Four years after the Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed take steps to streamline the FBI whistleblower program, the agency has not taken action, according to a program review.

The Government Accountability Office issued recommendations in 2015 to make improvements like shortening the time it takes to process whistleblower complaints.

So far, the agency has not:
  • Clarified regulations
  • Given complainants timeframes for returning decisions
  • Developed an oversight mechanism to ensure compliance with requirements
  • Assessed the impact of efforts to reduce the duration of complaints or requirements


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The Department of Justice announced Thursday that two pain management clinics in northern Virginia have agreed to pay approximately $3.3 million to settle Medicare fraud allegation brought by a qui tam whistleblower.

The settlement resolves allegations that National Spine and Pain Centers (NSPC), and Physical Medicine Associates (PMA)  fraudulently billed Medicare and other federal healthcare providers. The programs charged for physician services that were delivered by nurse practitioners. The case also involved the ordering medically unnecessary urine drug tests. The whistleblower was former PMA physician assistant.

The case follows news of whistleblower lawsuits moving forward against a Tennessee-based chain of pain clinics for a similar scheme.
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A selection of this week’s whistleblower news, including a harrowing tale of a group of war crimes whistleblowers.
NAVY

Some of details of the case against Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, as reported in The New York Times Tuesday, may sound familiar to many whistleblowers.  Here’s what reportedly occurred when Navy SEAL commandos reported their platoon chief had committed atrocities in Iraq.

(I)nstead of launching an investigation that day, the troop commander … warned the seven platoon members that speaking out could cost them and others their careers, according to the report.

 The Times story is based on a confidential Navy criminal investigation report obtained by the paper.

According to the investigation report, the troop commander, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, said in the meeting that while the SEALs were free to report the killings, the Navy might not look kindly on rank-and-file team members making allegations against a chief. Their careers could be sidetracked, he said, and their elite status revoked; referring to the eagle-and-trident badges worn by SEALs, he said the Navy “will pull your birds.”


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A Greek shipping company and its chief engineer were indicted Tuesday for witness tampering and falsifying records to hide the illegal discharge of waste oil into the sea.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the six-count indictment against Chartworld Shipping Corporation, Nederland Shipping Corporation, and Chief Engineer Vasileios Mazarakis. A federal grand jury in Wilmington, Delaware acted after hearing evidence that the company failed to keep accurate pollution control records and falsified records. The charges also include obstruction of justice and witness tampering, according to the DOJ.

The case was brought under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), a U.S. law that implements the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, commonly known as MARPOL. The law has a whistleblower provision and investigators say they use it routinely when witnesses come forward.


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