A new organisation to help whistleblowers set up in London
Whistleblowers must not only face the wrath of powerful and unforgiving opponents, as the cases of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning illustrate. They also face other trials, of which we know little. There is endless personal hardship, the loss of friends, the swift shrinkage of financial resources, the nightmare of unemployment and unemployability, and crippling legal costs. In short, the prospect of coping with manifestly life-altering circumstances.
The new Whistler Fellowship Alliance, set up by Gavin Mcfayden, Director of the London-based Centre for Investigative Journalism, and Eileen Chubb, a former health care worker who blew the whistle on elderly patient abuse in hospitals and health-care homes in the UK, WFA will provide “emotional and legal assistance to those who have or are considering righting a wrong.”
“If you take up the issue of abuse internally, your employer does not take action. It you decide to go public, you are not employable, and that is happening on a huge scale,” said Ms. Chubb at a pre-launch event organised at the City University London on February 18. After she lost her job, and her legal case, Ms. Chubb set up Compassion in Care, a trust that now works with people like her.
“It was only after I left government could I see with clarity how former colleagues were suborned into manufacturing fraudulent evidence during the Iraq war,” said Ray McGovern, a retired Central Intelligence Agency analyst-turned political activist, who returned his Intelligence Commendation Medal in 2006 in protest against CIA’s alleged involvement in torture.
A former senior NSA official, Thomas Drake spoke of his “horror” in the aftermath of 9/11 to discover that “the very Constitution that I had taken an oath to defend was being subverted in the name of national security. Little did I know at that time that I would end up being declared an ‘enemy of the state.”
According to him, the U.S. government had information that if it shared would have stopped 9/11 itself from happening. Taking the decision to “work within the system as long as I could do so,” he came up against successive blocks. He even made a detailed presentation before a Congressional Committee on what he calls “the dirty secrets of the secret state that had the evidence for 9/11 and chose not to share it before [the event], then covered it all up afterwards.”
“I had become radioactive,” Mr. Drake said. He went to the press in 2005, was indicted under the Espionage Act in April 2010, and faced 35 years in prison. He was declared indigent as he could not pay legal fees. His case was fought by Jesselyn Radack, a former U.S. Department of Justice Ethics Adviser. Eventually, all 10 felony charges against him were dropped.
Ms. Radack, who is also legal adviser to Edward Snowden, was herself blacklisted for exposing a major reconstruction fraud in Iraq. She was put on a “no-fly” list by the U.S. government. “I have dedicated my life to protecting whistleblowers,” she said.
Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer, had to leave the British Security Service in 1997. With her partner David Shayle, Ms. Machon was on the run for several years for exposing illegal intelligence activities.
The formal launch of the organisation is on March 20.