Wednesday, December 12, 2007

HOW - 2007, by Darlene Fitzgerald.

Published by request...

Over this past year, there have been numerous articles,
Senate testimony and reports detailing the Bush
administration’s squandering of billions of our tax
dollars with virtually nothing to show for it. As recent as
this month, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington (CREW) released yet another shocking report
appropriately entitled, “Homeland Security for Sale - DHS:
Five Years of Mismanagement,” which was aired on MSNBC and
published in several major newspapers. In June 2007, the
Washington Post released an article entitled, “DHS, 124
Million Dollars - No Bid Contracts.” Another article
entitled, “Getting Hosed by DHS” and another quotes
Senator Leahy on January 4, 2007 as stating, “More than 50
billion to Iraq private contractors hired to guard busses,
drive trucks, food and shelter troops and rebuild the
country,”and of course there’s not much to show for it.
I could go on and on report after report, but I think you
get the picture.

Each and every time one of these reports exposes the
latest-greatest scandal, the immediate response from the
American public is of course, “HOW can this happen!” As
an insider of our government for many years, as a National
Security Whistleblower, author and most importantly, a
caring citizen who has avidly fought against this “HOW”
for almost 30 years now, I’ve learned a few things about
“HOW.”

Most of the above-mentioned scandals that have managed to
actually make it into the main stream media, no easy task I
might add, make it appear as though this “HOW” is the
result of some illusive, complicated, overwhelming machinery
that is our government. This is simply not so. In my
humble opinion, “HOW” can be broken down into some
basic, simple principals that we as Americans can
understand.

First, we have to realize that our government is made up of
human beings, with all the frailties, good and evil, of our
species. I like to divide government employees (including
the folks at the very top - Congress, Bush administration,
etc.) into four (4) basic categories:

1. Greedy, self-absorbed people whose only real interest in
their jobs is to see just how powerful and rich they can
become, by hook or by crook (mostly the latter). These
employees, unfortunately, tend to rise to the top of every
agency over the backs, or through them with a knife, of the
folks in category number four (4) below. These are people
who have no conscience and truly believe that they are above
the law. This, as you may imagine, is the most dangerous
category.

2. Lazy people. These are the folks that will just “go
along to get along.” They are content in doing just
enough to get by to get a pay check, and not enough to make
any real difference. They will turn their heads the other
way, and maybe even go along with things they know are
wrong. They feel that they can simply ride the coattails of
the folks in category number one (1).

3. Cowards. These are basically good hard-working
government employees that ignore obvious waist, fraud and
abuse in our government because they will feel guilty about
doing nothing - which is exactly what they will do -
nothing. These are people who justify in their minds that
what they think they are witnessing just can’t be
happening (denial), or justify in their minds why they have
to stay silent. FEAR drives this category of folks, and for
good reason, to be further explained below.

4. Stand Ups. These are good, honest folks who work hard,
and refuse to cave into the fear. What fear you ask? The
fear that this article is about, because you see, the FEAR
is the answer to the “HOW.” I’m speaking of the fear
that will be most certainly generated when their government
chain of command retaliates against them, unencumbered by
any real laws or regulations, when these folks dare to
speak truth to power. These folks will find themselves very
quickly at a crossroads where they have a decision to make -
fall into one of the above categories, quit their jobs and
loose their careers, or become a Whistleblower, and stand up
to the bullies that their managers and most coworkers will
very quickly become if they refuse to shut up and get in
line. These people find themselves between a rock and a
hard place - and this is where we get the “HOW” in our
government.

On May 15, 2007, the Government Accountability Project
(GAP), the No Fear Coalition, the Project on Government, No Fear Coalition
Oversite (POGO), and several other Whistleblower
organizations sponsored the Washington Whistleblower Week in
Washington, D.C. in support of the much needed
“Whistleblower Protection Act,” Senate Bill #494 and the
“No Fear Act,” Senate Bill #201. Whistleblowers from
all around the country came to testify before a
Congressional panel in order to get these bills passed.
These bills have already passed the House, overwhelmingly,
and were sitting idle in the Senate. It is important to
note that it was officially read into the record that more
than 700 government employees wanted to appear and testify
at this hearing. This alone, demonstrates clearly just how
pervasive and systemic Whistleblower retaliation has become
in our government. I was fortunate enough to be one of the
25 or so who were allowed to give live testimony.

As I sat there all day listening to the testimony of some of
the bravest folks I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting
tell their horrendous stories exposing government waist,
fraud, corruption and abuse on an enormous scale, I noticed
a few things:

A. Most of these stories were extremely well documented
and witnessed. I’m sure that is exactly why they were
chosen over others to give this testimony.

B. Secondly, most of these stories weren’t covered by
the main stream media, and they most certainly should have
been. Some of these stories I’ve summarized below. When
you read what they were in fact whistleblowing about, I’m
sure that you will agree that they were more than worthy of
main stream media attention.

C. The folks that were selected to testify were the
“Cream of the crop” employees with the highest of
ratings on their progress reports - before they blew the
whistle. Most of them brought along their employee folders
which included numerous awards and commendations,
promotions, rave reviews and other accolades just to further
demonstrate this point. Further, most of them had many
years as a government employee, all in good standing.

D. Finally, everyone of these highly decorated, highly
promoted, “Cream of the crop” employees immediately
became labeled by their agencies as unproductive,
incompetent, lazy, and/or crazy, immediately after they
followed their conscience and bravely reported the waste,
fraud, abuse, or corruption that they had witnessed.
Moreover, most of them had either been fired, were in the
process of being fired, or facing criminal charges.

I’ve written a short summary of the testimony of just a
few of the Whistleblowers, including my own. I highly
encourage all who read this article to go online, type in
their names, and read their testimony in its entirety.

1.) Bunnatine Greenhouse

Ms. Greenhouse was a United States Army Corps of Engineers,
senior procurement executive who blew the whistle on
violations of issuing government contracts to Halliburton,
“As the ramp-up to the Iraqi War escalated.” Greenhouse
did what most loyal government employees do. She notified
her concerns to her chain of command. “I immediately
questioned whether the corps had the legal authority to
function as the Army’s delegated contracting authority.
The Corps had absolutely no competencies related to oil
production. Restoration of oil production was simply
outside of the scope of our congressionally mandated
mission,” she explained. “But it was too late, the
Halliburton express had already left the station.”

“I raised concern with officials representing the
Department of Defense, The Department of the Army and the
Corps of Engineers....after the draft had been approved by
representatives of the office of the Secretary of Defense,
the five year, no compete clause remained in place. I could
not sign the document in good faith knowing that this
extended period was unreasonable... Therefore, next to my
signature I handwrote the following comment directly onto
the original document: I caution that extending this sole
source effort beyond a one year period could convey an
invalid perception that there is not strong intent for a
limited competition.” Ms. Greenhouse did this to insure
that her concern over this obvious blatant abuse of this
process would not be overlooked. “Instead, it was just
ignored,” she added.

On December 11, 2003, the Defense Contract Audit Agency
issued a draft report on concluding that this contract
overcharge for the purchase of fuel by $61,000,000.
However, the firestorm over this issue was significantly
dampened a week later when, “The Corps simply asserted
that the price charge for the fuel was “fair and
reasonable.”

Ms. Greenhouse would not back down and just go away. As the
pressure mounted she was eventually, “summoned to a
meeting” where they notified her that she was to be
removed from her Senior Executive Service and from her
position. “I had no other alternative at that juncture
but to file a formal request or investigation with the
then-Acting Secretary of the Army and to appropriate members
of Congress.” She ended her testimony by thanking the
National Whistleblower Center for their support for,
“Without their effort I could not have survived the
political firestorm that burns around me.”

2.) Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Dr. Coleman-Adebayo was a senior policy analyst fo the
Environment Protection Agency (EPA), until she was
terminated, shortly after she reported that an American
company was generating toxic waste that was poisoning
African workers. At that time, she was serving as an
African affairs specialist on the Gore-Mbeki Commission.
Instead of being praised for her findings, she was removed
from the commission. She has received extreme harassment,
death and rape threats when she exposed the environmental
and human disasters taking place in the Brits, South Africa,
vanadium mines. Her concerns were eerily similar to the
complaints of other Whistleblowers. On August 18th, 2000, a
federal jury found the EPA guilty of violating the civil
rights of Dr. Coleman-Adebayo on the basis of a hostile work
environment.

3.) Bogdon Dzakovic

Mr. Dzakovic was a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
security expert who blew the whistle on lax oversight and
testing of security at airports, before and after 9-11.
Dzakovic began by explaining HOW abuses of secrecy are a,
“clear and present danger to homeland security.”
Dzakovic had served seven (7) years with the FAA Red Team,
which conducted undercover test on airport security through
simulated terrorist attacks. “Although we breached
security with ridiculous ease up to 90% of the time, the FAA
suppressed these warnings. Instead we were ordered not to
write up our findings and not to retest airports.” After
the terrorist attack on 9-11 the FAA and other government
officials were all seen in different reports, and in
testimony to Congress saying things like Secretary Rice
stated, “How could we have known this was going to
happen?” “The truth is,” stated Dzakovic, “they did
know. What happened on 9-11 was not a failure in the
system, it was a system designed for failure. FAA very
conscientiously and deliberately orchestrated a dangerous
facade of security.” Dzakovic further testified, “There
are serious indications that FAA deceived the public about
what happened on 9-11.”

About a month after 9-11, Dzakovic filed a Whistleblower
Disclosure against FAA with the U.S. Office of Special
Counsel (OSC). Last year the OSC found a substantial
likelihood that Dzakovic was right and ordered Secretary
Mineta to investigate. “Immediately after our Red Team
warnings were vindicated, however, we were grounded. Later
I was removed from my position as a Red Team leader with no
explanation and placed in a career limbo,” he testified to
the panel.

Dzakovic did what most Whistleblowers do and he took his
concerns to the Inspector General’s (IG) Office. A senior
official from that office stated to him that, “The IG
couldn’t take any action against the FAA unless you give
me a dead body and a smoking gun, I can’t do anything
against the FAA.” Dzakovic further testified “Well, we
now have nearly 3,000 dead bodies, and a smoking cannon, and
the IG still refuses to take action against the FAA.”
“...not one person has been disciplined for mismanaging an
agency that operated in a manner that was a substantial and
specific danger to public safety contributing directly to
the nearly 3,000 deaths on 9-11. As a matter of fact, many
of these same managers have been promoted within TSA and are
still with the FAA, and are managing the FAA internal
investigations/security mission and its hazardous materials
mission in precisely the same way asit mismanaged its
previous aviation security mission before 9-11.”

TSA has been reported repeatedly for misuses of hundreds of
millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money while civil
aviation security is, “little better now than it was
before 9-11" according to Dzakovic. Meanwhile Dzakovic
testified that he has been relegate to doing jobs like,
“punching holes in paper and putting orientation binders
together for the hundreds of newly hired TSA employees. My
current job is even further removed from keeping bombs,
weapons and terrorist off planes.”

4.) Darlene Fitzgerald - summary of my testimony before the
Congressional panel:

I had more than 20 years of combined law enforcement
experience in the military, private industry and as a
Special Agent, when I resigned from my agency because I
refused to work for an agency that was worse than the people
I put in jail. In 1998 I was in charge of a U.S. Customs
task force operating an extensive investigation called
Operation Rite Rail. We uncovered tons of narcotics and
contraband being facilitated into the U.S. from Mexico via
railroad tanker cars - with the apparent approval of U.S.
Customs managers. This resulted in a landmark civil case in
federal court: Fitzgerald - Nunn Vs. Department of Homeland
Security. At this trial Superior Court Judge Yvette
Palazuelos took the stand as our witness and made history by
being the first sitting judge ever to testify against the
U.S. government.

High level-Customs’ managers shut down my investigation
into narcotics smuggling. I had already seized 8000 pounds
of marijuana and 34 kilos of uncut cocaine in just one
pressurized railroad tanker car. I had in my grasp five
more of these cars imported from Mexico that were improperly
manifested as “empty,” yet contained 25 to 40 tons of
suspected contraband. I was ordered off the case and told
to shut down my operation.

At the trial, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAIC) Gary
Pinkava took the stand for Customs, and admitted without
elaboration that he would not allow me or my supervisor to
pressure test, at no charge to the government, these highly
suspected tanker cars. This would have been the largest
seizure on record for any agency. Subsequently, these
tanker cars were surreptitiously released into the commerce
of the U.S. uninspected by anyone.

Sufficient evidence to warrant a grand jury investigation of
the following was most certainly exposed at the above styled
trial: Witness tampering, Facilitation of the importation of
25 to 40 tons of contraband into the U.S., Perjury,
Misprision of Felony, and possible Subornation of Perjury.
This evidence was sufficient to warrant the initiation of a
grand jury investigation - yet there was none. (Complete
transcripts of this trial testimony may be read at
www.BorderGate.net.) Further, since the submission of our
witness list in this case, every single person on that list
has been either severely harassed, arrested, investigated,
threatened, and / or fired.

What my task force and I also exposed is the horrendous
national security terrorist threat that these rail tanker
cars pose to our nation. Timothy McVey blew up the Federal
Murrah Building in Oklahoma City with about one ton of
ammonium nitrate in an unsealed-cargo truck. This cowardly
attack killed scores of people and resulted in more than
eleven damaged buildings being torn down. Yet a terrorist
can put forty times this amount of ammonium nitrate in a
railroad tanker car and pressurize it. This would create
what is essentially the world’s largest “pipe bomb.”

It is important to note that there have been no other rail
tanker car seizures since that done by my task force in
1998. Have the drug smugglers and terrorist simply quit
trying to enter the U.S., or have they been operating freely
with the assistance of corrupt and / or incompetent managers
within DHS.

The real victims here are all of the brave Whistleblowers
who have come forward with important information that
exposes threats to our national security. What has
happened, and continues to happen to all the Whistleblowers
in my “BorderGate” story is not only wrong, but it
places our country at grave risk as well. To quote a famous
French free thinker Voltaire, “Being right is dangerous
when government is wrong.”

That concluded my testimony.

It is important to note that the only major news
organization that covered this important Congressional
testimony was CSPAN. No other major news agency bothered
covering this most important, scandalous testimony. This
too is a large part of the problem which results in the
“HOW.” In years past, the media was the ultimate check
and balance for our government. Now, I’m sad to say, they
are not. Had the media rolled up their sleeves and not
“jumped in the boat” with the Bush administration - Had
they done their jobs and asked the hard questions in the
first place, maybe we would have never rushed into the Iraq
war.

When the media does squeeze a Whistleblower’s story into
their busy day of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and
Ellen’s dog, they only tell about the scandal itself. I
have yet to see any main stream media conduct a followup on
what happens to the Whistleblower who risked everything to
bring them the information. The public never knows of how
the Whistleblower is almost always fired from their job, and
then cleverly “blackballed” from future employment by
their previous government managers. You never hear about
how the Whistleblower is usually the major bred-winner of
the family, and when they can no longer work their spouses
don’t understand and divorce them. The Whistleblower
becomes isolated, loses his/her home, files bankruptcy and
is dragged through a divorce. Then, because of the mountain
of stress piled upon them in a relatively short period of
time, the Whistleblower begins to have serious health
problems. I personally know of too many Whistleblowers who
have died from stress related heart conditions, or have just
outright given up and committed suicide. Their lives are
destroyed, and all because they had the guts to do the right
thing. I personally have had family members state, “You
had that great job making all that money and didn’t have
the brains to just shut up and keep your job - how
stupid.” This is rarely, if ever, covered by the media.
To the press, the Whistleblower is simply cannon fodder - a
person to use to get their story.

Maybe, if the media would air more time and space to
Whistleblowers instead of hours and hours of Britney Spears
and Paris Hilton, maybe if they did their jobs, maybe we
wouldn’t be asking so much about “HOW.” I’m
convinced that if Richard Nixon had completed his
“Watergate” crimes in 2007, he would have gotten away
with it. The days of “investigative journalism” by real
reporters are seemingly over. It’s all too easy and much
cheaper for media executives to air “talking head” news
on Britney Spears and Paris Hilton than to do investigative
reporting.

As I sat in Congress that day in May 2007 and listened to
the numerous accounts of government waste, fraud,
corruption, abuse, and most important, the horrendous
retaliation faced by the Whistleblowers who dared to speak
truth to power, I realized that I had the answer to HOW.
This is HOW our government officials get away with it all -
because they can. As you read this article, what is
probably the most important piece of legislation in our
history sits dormant in the Senate. The Whistleblower
Protection Act would provide a real punch to the “HOW.”
Yet, our Senate does nothing, and our media has yet to
report that this bill is being ignored - much like how the
media has ignored the Whistleblowers themselves who dare to
take on the “HOW.”

Further, as you read this letter our national debt grows at
just under $ONE MILLION DOLLARS A MINUTE (as reported on
December 6th, 2007 by MSNBC & other news organizations),
largely due to stories like the ones testified to by
Whistleblowers this year before Congress. Now that you the
reader fully understands “HOW,” I encourage all who
read this to do your part to assist Whistleblowers to combat
the “HOW” by calling or writing to Senator Harry Reid.
Senator Reid has the power to move this bill to the floor
for a vote. Every phone call or letter to his office will
help (202) 224-3542 / fax (202) 224-7327. I also encourage
you to learn more about “HOW” by visiting the following
web sites:

The Government Accountability Project: www.whistleblower.org

The Project on Government Oversite: www.pogo.org

The BorderGate web site: www.BorderGate.net

By: Darlene Fitzgerald
National Security Whistleblower
Author: “BorderGate, the story the government doesn’t
want you to read”
www.BorderGate.net
e-mail: darleneian@highland.net

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