The rise and fall of the whistleblower

21st July 2016 / Editors Picks, Global

By Graham Vanbergen – The world is heading towards another economic recession driven by a global elite made up of corporations and billionaires on a rapacious campaign in the search for profit no matter what the consequences, let alone considering sustainability. But recently the world started to change a little as the crimes of corporations became ever more egregious in nature and magnitude. The antidote to out-of-control corporations and the dismantling of democracy it seems, was not political will, it was the rise of the whistleblower.

Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 35 years in the USA showed the world what American militarism was really achieving with some of its barbaric endeavours in the Middle East. The public are becoming harder to convince that war is the only type of solution as a result.

A host of pharmaceutical employees have emerged in recent years uncovering and exposing drugs that harm millions of people with subsequent cover-ups and corruption on a truly global scale. Reputational damage occurs, huge fines imposed and boardroom behaviour changes.

Julian Assange and Wikileaks, Edward Snowden and the like added secret surveillance to the public consciousness and banking whistleblowers leading to ‘LuxLeaks’ and the ‘Panama Papers’ added more weight to massive financial crimes being perpetrated with impunity. Financial regulations have been changed as a direct result of public opinion and anger.

However, the only people going to prison for all this malfeasance are the ones who call out these crimes in the public interest. Without them, we would be none the wiser.

It is quite apparent to all those are taking notice that we have anarchy by the rich and powerful whilst law-abiding citizens watch aghast. People have become frustrated at hearing of such enormous crimes. They accumulate in the consciousness of those who are not doing so well in the world.

Inequality is the defining issue of our time. That is income inequality and inequality of justice as there simply cannot be a two-tier system; one for the rich and one for everyone else. And inequality has now boiled down to the simpler understanding that a few have got well ahead and the rest have been left behind.

A litany of political and regulatory failures along with a merry-go-round of revolving doors is now dominating how civilian life works. The result is a creeping colonisation of public life by corporations as they get unprecedented powers to decide on what we do, see, eat, live and behave.

Politicians around the western world have led the charge into what is now nothing more than a continually decaying moral and ethical fabric affected by the terminal cancer of extreme neoliberal economics.

What has become apparent to the down-trodden public is the sheer cowardice of global leaders, who seem unable to stand up to corporate power. This has led to major media outlets being owned by billionaires that now drive the debate to suit their own agenda. It is also apparent that the legal and accountancy professions are playing a leading role in mass tax evasion whilst banking and corporate losses are being socialised onshore and profits off-shored.

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Citing a litany of failures, injustices and political cowardice, “the Panama Papers are, if nothing else, a glaring symptom of our society’s progressively diseased and decaying moral fabric” says the anonymous source for the worlds biggest leak.

It is entering the public consciousness that the establishment and its institutions no longer represent anything other than the wealthy and powerful. Middle and low income citizens and family households are paying the price of a transfer of wealth that is negatively affecting about 80 per cent of adults in Britain.

And yet, when we look at these whistleblowers we see the doubling down by shadowy organisations working for those with a vested interest. The Panama Papers ended up in the hands of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – an organisation backed by George Soros’s ‘Open Society Foundation’, The Rockefeller Family Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund of the international banking cartel, the Rockefeller family.

Soros has used his vast fortune to topple governments in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. He “broke” the British pound in 1992 costing the taxpayer billions for personal profit, was accused of wreaking havoc on the Malaysian ringgit, and was called an “economic war criminal” in Thailand whilst a French court convicted him of insider trading.

The Panama Papers has not been released openly on the internet – only to the ICIJ and selected journalists who have decided not to highlight American individuals or corporations for fraud, theft, tax crimes and the like. They have, however, focused on leaders in the Middle East, Africa and of course Russia in what can only be seen as an information war of disinformation and propaganda.

Likewise with Edward Snowden. The millions of documents released have ended in silence with news outlets saying nothing of the international scandals we should be made aware of. Instead, Glenn Greenwald who graciously accepted the leaks is funded by eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar and ever since, not that much has emerged other than a trickle of information that most people wouldn’t bother reading.

The Pentagon has gone a long way in punishing whistleblowers by utterly ruining the lives of them and their associates, and it has been successful in its acts of intimidation. This is highlighted by a Guardian piece “How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers

“The first (NSA Whistleblower) Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same NSA activities 10 years before Snowden did. Drake was a much higher-ranking NSA official than Snowden, and he obeyed US whistleblower laws, raising his concerns through official channels. And he got crushed. Drake was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally. The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today. Adding insult to injury, his warnings about the dangers of the NSA’s surveillance programme were largely ignored. “The government spent many years trying to break me, and the more I resisted, the nastier they got,” Drake said”

Julian Assange the Australian who founded Wikileaks is a wanted man, particularly by the British and American government’s and has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since August 2012. Likewise with Snowden, he has been stuck stateless in Moscow since June 23rd 2013, both seeking sanctuary of foreign governments for their liberty whilst their lives are under threat and prospects of any future crushed.

“Name one whistleblower from the intelligence community whose disclosures led to real change – overturning laws, ending policies – who didn’t face retaliation as a result. The protections just aren’t there,” Snowden told the Guardian. “The sad reality of today’s policies is that going to the inspector general with evidence of truly serious wrongdoing is often a mistake. Going to the press involves serious risks, but at least you’ve got a chance.”

All of these whistleblowers have one thing in common, they were patriotic towards their country and wanted what was clearly wrong and patently illegal to stop. None of them have actually been found to have caused serious breaches or leaks of intelligence that has led to, say, the deaths of informants or spies. For that, the state turned against them and turned over a new card in the game of bluff. Britain and America were quite prepared to flout laws, disrespect people’s civil rights and grind down hard fought for liberties to virtually nothing without giving logical reason and offering little debate.

When democracies turn people like Manning, Assange and Snowden into antihero thieves cowering in the shadows protected by so-called dubious geo-political agitators you know that democracy is on a very slippery slope and it’s probably already too late.

It is worth noting that Former CIA director James Woolsey has called for Snowden to be “hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted.” Likewise Republican presidential hopeful of 2010 Mike Huckabee has called for Assange to be tried for treason and then executed by saying “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.” When referring to Manning Kathleen McFarland, who served in the Pentagon under the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, concurred with Huckabee. “It’s time to up the charges,” said McFarland, now a Fox News national security analyst. “Let’s charge him (Manning) and try him for treason. If he is found guilty, he should be executed.”

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Shakespeare’s simple line seems to explain it all. It has been used as a figure of speech, in various phrasings, to describe someone’s too frequent and vehement attempts to convince others of some matter of which the opposite is true, thereby making themselves appear defensive and insincere. In the case of government – guilty.

The time of the whistleblower has probably come to an end and we are all much worse off as a result.

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