Three high-profile whistleblowers and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter headline a panel and the first tour stop for "The American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability." The program taking place at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts is sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Business Ethics Program of the College of Business Administration, the College of Law and the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Presenters at the UNL event are Thomas Drake, National Security Agency whistleblower; Gary Aguirre, Securities and Exchange Commissions whistleblower; Mike McGraw, Kansas City Star Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter; and Jesselyn Radack, a Department of Justice whistleblower. Organized by the Government Accountability Project, the tour is part of a national campaign to educate the public about the phenomenon and practice of whistle-blowing. The program is free and open to the public.
Drake made national headlines this summer from his prosecution by the Department of Justice. His story continues to receive widespread coverage. A life-long military and government intelligence analyst, Drake attempted to expose massive NSA mismangement and the agency's use of a data-collection program that was more costly, more threatening to American citizens’ privacy rights and less effective than a readily available alternative. After reporting such problems through proper channels to no avail, Drake began sharing unclassified information with a reporter.
For his actions, Drake was arrested during a raid on his house and subsequently charged under the Espionage Act. He faced 35 years in prison, but in June the case against him fell apart and he accepted a plea bargain to a misdemeanor. He will serve no jail time, pay no fine and the judge admonished the prosecution. Drake's case was the subject of a recent 60 Minutes segment, a front-page article in the New Yorker and stories in daily newspapers across the nation.
In 2006, Aguirre rocked the financial world by alleging wrongdoing by SEC officials for their failure to allow a proper investigation to proceed, possibly because of political connections. Aguirre is a former SEC lawyer who was dismissed by the agency following his attempt to subpoena John Mack – a prominent financial figure who later became the CEO of Morgan Stanley – in an insider trading investigation of Pequot Capital Management, one of the country’s former leading hedge funds. Aguirre’s story sparked outrage, a Congressional investigation, and eventual vindication by the U.S. Senate.
McGraw is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning special projects desk reporter for the Kansas City Star. He has covered a wide range of issues in-depth, including organized labor, meatpacking, the federal judiciary, NASA, occupational safety and health issues, building collapses, food safety, housing issues and art world fraud. He is a former member of the Board of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a contributor to IRE's "The Reporter's Handbook." McGraw has taught investigative reporting at the Missouri School of Journalism and the University of Kansas, and has worked with several whistleblowers for his stories.
A DOJ whistleblower who served as a former ethics adviser to the department, Radack will serve as moderator for the panel. She accused the FBI of committing and ethics violation in its interrogation of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh without an attorney present, that the DOJ attempted to suppress that information and that former Attorney General John Ashcroft made an incorrect public statement about Lindh. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11. Since her own case, Radack has been a champion of whistleblowers, recently serving as counsel on whistleblower issues to Drake. She currently serves as GAP National Security and Human Rights Director.
“The UNL College of Business Administration’s Business Ethics Program, the College of Law and the College of Journalism and Mass Communications worked together with the Government Accountability Project to bring this dynamic group of prominent whistleblowers to the university and the state of Nebraska. Our students and the public benefit from hearing from those who chose to do the hard thing, the right thing,” said Janice Lawrence, who serves as director of the business ethics program.
A full description of the tour can be found at: http://www.WhistleblowerTour.org.
Nationally ranked by Businessweek, the Business Ethics Program at the UNL College of Business Administration was founded in 1998. The program focuses on the integration of ethics throughout the existing business curriculum. Ethics is currently integrated into approximately 90 percent of the courses offered at the College of Business Administration.