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The Treatment Of Whistleblowers Essay

2056 words - 8 pages

It used to be that whistleblowers were applauded, and they still are in the private sector, but it seems as if government whistleblowers are criticized and many are even criminally charged. There is certainly a different take on their activities. In fact, some advocates counsel federal employees not to come forward with information because if they do, their lives will be destroyed (Shulman, 2007). What often happens is that they will never be able to work in their careers again in the same capacity (Shulman, 2007). Many whistleblowers not only lose their jobs, but they lose their families and friends, and much of their money ends up going to attorneys (Shulman, 2007). Indeed, in today’s day and age, there is a surge of whistleblowers prosecutions, and it is quite worrisome (Burghardt, 2011). Are the rights of citizens being eroded in order to protect bureaucratic secrets? Many case studies in this area support the notion that thing have gone awry. First, we shall look at the concept of whistleblowers
Whistleblowers often make their way into the public eye, but what is a whistle blower exactly? What are the criteria? Whistle blowing is "raising the alarm in public about a wrong being committed in private" (Vickers, 2002, p.42). By definition, a whistle blower can only "blow the whistle" on an organization of which he is a member (Vickers, 2002). That point is rather obvious. After all, the concept of being a whistleblower is providing inside information. Also, it brings up a significant problem. People are reluctant to "blow the whistle" because they can lose everything they worked for. It seems almost unfair. The person in this predicament will have to decide whether or not to keep his job as is, or to do the right thing and tell the truth. The decision is not easy. Further, some whistleblowers doubt their information or rationalize the truth. It can take awhile for someone to speak up, and the hesitancy is largely due to a corporate culture that does not support the practice.

It should be noted that there are "whistle blowing" statutes in many
jurisdictions where an employee is allowed to report illegal activity and will be protected from being fired (Larson, 2003). Indeed, whistle blowing is largely encouraged in society in general as the government wants people to come forward when the giants of Corporate America are doing something bad. Of course, when it comes to leaking government secrets that is a different matter entirely. The National Whistleblowers Center says that under Section 403 of the Intelligence Authorization Act, the head of an employee's agency may accuse a whistleblower of leaking classified information (Burghardt, 2011). If this were to occur, the simple accusation could lead to the individual's blocking of access to federal pensions, and this is true even if they are in retirement (Burghardt, 2011).
One case that involves a whistleblower who has been ostracized is Thomas Drake. Drake is a former...

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