Whistleblower Panel Focuses On Justice Dept. Scandal, Unaccountability


Victims and whistleblowers central to a major human rights scandal at the U.S. Justice Department will be among the speakers at the 10th Annual Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival this week in Washington, DC.

A panel on July 26 organized by the Justice Integrity Project is scheduled to include former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, right, and Don SiegelmanHealthSouth founder and former CEO Richard Scrushy, each of whom served more than six years in prison on what many observers have long regarded as trumped-up corruption charges.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department, then controlled by political enemies of Siegelman, manufactured the charges more than 15 years ago in cooperation with Alabama Republicans. The purpose?  To end Siegelman’s political career in disgrace and imprisonment -- and also oust Scrushy from leadership of the multi-billion-dollar company he had founded and to profit from his ouster, critics say.

Participating also on the panel “Righting the Wrongs of a ‘Shadow Government’” in the week-long conference will be Tami Todd, the former top Justice Department paralegal for the prosecution. She was fired after raising concerns internally with tommy gallionthe Justice Department about the gross irregularities that she had witnessed implicating high-level lawyers leading the prosecution.

Another panelist is Thomas T. Gallion, III, right, a prominent attorney for many years in Alabama. He has described the prosecution as part of a scandalous hidden history of corrupt prosecutions extending back decades that he believes occur without accountability from ostensibly reputable employees of the Justice Department and their allies.

The Tuesday session is at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the second day of the conference, and is available for free remote viewing for registrants visiting this site.

The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival

This week's event features panels, films, awards and co-located events by other whistleblower groups. The Summit event ends on July 30 with a Tribute to Dick Gregory providing comedy, plus an awards presentation that features celebrity host Marsha Warfield at the Busboys & Poets Restaurant in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood in the nation’s capital.

The Summit and Film Festival has been managed for years by Michael McCray and Marcel Reid, two former national board members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), who joined the whistleblowing community by protesting corruption within michael mccray marcel reid race power politicsACORN, as recounted in the McCray's memoir, Race, Power & Politics (2009), right, written with Reid.

The event is normally based primarily on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. But it relies heavily this year on Zoom and other remote viewing because of the region’s recent upsurge of coronavirus cases. The program began on Monday, July 25, with a series of panel discussions underscoring the importance of whistleblowing in fostering a healthy civic life in the United States.

Regarding the Justice Integrity Project panel on July 26, it will be moderated by this editor, Andrew Kreig, who has written extensively about the Alabama scandals, including a comprehensive investigative story front-paged for days by the Huffington Post in 2009:

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago.

Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income.

Panelists will describe their experiences and share their thoughts on how best to reform the justice system, a continuing issue involving many controversial situations nationally these days involving the Justice Department, whose personnel are usually praised instinctively by mainstream journalists whose work encourages them to rely on authorities for information.

Alabama Injustice, With National Implications

As for specifics of the 2006 convictions of the Democrat Siegelman and the Republican Scrushy in Alabama’s state capital of Montgomery on highly dubious corruption charges:

The irregularities in the case before Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of the Alabama Middle District prompted massive, unsuccessful and rare -- if not unprecedented -- protests by former prosecutors, law professors and grassroots protesters, with a few journalists breaking the tradition of accepting prosecution allegations with scant criticism.

Some 113 former state attorneys general, the chief law enforcers from more than forty states, wrote an unsuccessful friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing unsuccessfully that no crime had been committed when Scrushy’s company contributed to a non-profit that Siegelman had founded to advocate for better funding for Alabama’s schools. Similarly, more than 40 law professors filed similar arguments in seeking Supreme Court review of the convictions by a jury that rejected the most serious charges against the defendants but compromised to find some guilty verdicts under pressure from the presiding judge.

Our Justice Integrity Project, which published dozens of investigative articles about irregularities in the case, has estimated that well over 200,000 complaints via letters, phone calls and emails from the public about the verdict were received by the Justice Department and White House as part of what became a human rights scandal of global notoriety.

Among those journalists first raising serious questions about the prosecution were investigative reports in 2007 by Harper’s legal columnist Scott Horton, independent bloggers Roger Shuler, Wayne Madsen and Glynn Wilson, and investigative commentary by a few journalists at the New York Times, Time Magazine, CBS News and NBC News.

don siegelman 60 minCBS “60 Minutes,” for example, broadcast a 2008 investigative report led by correspondent Scott Pelley featuring Republican attorneys, including then-McCain for President co-chair Grant Woods, right, a former Arizona attorney general. Woods argued that the prosecution by fellow Republicans in the Bush Administration and Alabama state government was grant woodsbased on politics, not a sound reading of relevant law.

The CBS report also quoted Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson, who stated that she had been a Republican operative for years and knew that fellow Republicans, including then Senior Bush White House Advisor Karl Rove, had targeted Siegelman to prevent him from winning re-election in 2006 after he was narrowly defeated in 2002 following his 1999-2003 term.

As one conflict that Todd (then using the last name Grimes) had separately highlighted, Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary was married to longtime Rove ally William Canary, the campaign manager for Siegelman’s Republican bob rileygubernatorial opponent in 2006, Gov. Bob Riley, left.

As part of the congressional inquiries into the so-called "U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal" of 2006 whereby the Bush administration fired presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys unwilling to bring dubious cases against Democrats, Simpson gave testimony before House Judiciary Committee staff in 2007. She stated that the Siegelman/Scrushy presiding judge, Fuller, a Republican, “hated” Siegelman because of previous political controversies and that Rove led an effort to use the Justice Department to imprison Siegelman to help Republicans win elections in Alabama, with parallel efforts elsewhere.

The courtroom irregularities and the pattern of nationwide abuses attracted also brave but seemingly fruitless interventions by numerous whistleblowers trying to reverse the apparent frame-up of two of Alabama’s most prominent citizens and the destruction of their life’s work, Siegelman and Scrushy.

Richard Scrushy (Early in Career)The central allegation by prosecutors to win their corruption convictions was that Siegelman reappointed Scrushy, a Republican shown at left early in his career, to an Alabama state health board. This was in the same general time frame that  Scrushy’s corporate entities made substantial donations to help retire the debt for a Siegelman-led non-profit that had advocated in a 1998 referendum for more state funding for public schools via creation of a state lottery that might undercut income for private casinos that opposed the lottery.

Siegelman and Scrushy have both denied that there was any “quid pro quo” between the donation and reappointment, with Scrushy saying he did not even want to be on the regulatory board since he was a CEO running a multi-billion-dollar company. Scrushy has said also that he routinely authorized major charitable and political donations for Alabama causes as part of normal operations for a large company, with generous contributions to Republican governors before Siegelman's term.

But prosecutors presented at trial a witness, former Siegelman aide, Nick Bailey, who was facing serious prison time for separate offenses, who richard scrushy it should not happensuggested a relationship between the donations and the reappointment.

Since then experts have repeatedly challenged Bailey’s credibility and focused on many legal irregularities. These include up to 70 secret government pre-trial interrogations of Bailey at an Air Force base, in effect coaching sessions, led by a prosecutor who was a colonel in the Air Force reserves and also without required disclosure to defense counsel of the prosecutors' actions. Such disclosures to the defense to enable it to prepare are ordinarily required under Supreme Court precedent.

Among post-conviction developments: Scrushy was stripped of his leadership of HealthSouth and incurred a $500 million civil fraud judgment while he was imprisoned in the Siegelman scase and unable to defend himself adequately in court. He later published a powerful memoir, It Should Not Happen in America: From Selma to Wall Street, a Journey of Fire and Faith. 

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomSo did Siegelman in his Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation, shown at left.

Panelists will describe their experiences and share their thoughts on how best to reform the system.

Separately, Gallion, published a memoir Shadow Government: Southern Style – A Saga of Political Corruption rom DC to Dixie, describing the years of injustice he has witnessed as a prominent Alabama attorney active in the Republican Party and based in the state capitol.

He decries the injustice of the Siegelman and Scrushy prosecutions, as well as numerous other cases dating back seven decades to a time when his late father was state attorney general.

His treatment blows the whistle on several of his well-connected Republican friends, including the trial judge in the case.

Gallion also links the prosecution to a desire by Alabama Republicans to profit from legalized gambling interests while maintaining a veneer of anti-gambling moralisms.

Gallion repeatedly refers to what he calls "The Cabal" running Alabama, which he describes as primarily Republicans but with important hidden relationships with powerful Democrats that he names. The identities are beyond the scope of this article but are readily found via his public comments as a whistleblower drawing on both research and personal observation.

In 2009, this editor profiled Todd and her heroic whistleblowing for a "Sue," nationwide magazine for paralegals in an article entitled, From Justice Dream Job to Nightmare…Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed. The magazine editor, Chere Estrin, told me it was the most important article they had ever published because it illustrated the pitfalls that paralegals can encounter even when they have every reason to think they are on the side of justice in a case.

GrimesTodd, who formerly used the last name "Grimes," has since become an attorney and is working on a memoir of her own that will address the lessons to be learned from the injustices she witnessed and the whistleblowing she undertook at the cost of her job at the Justice Department. She says she draws inspiration from, among other places, her small town upbringing, training in the law and the powerful best-seller Just Mercy (2014), authored by Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.


Authorities from both major parties have always resisted detailed answers to questions about the irregularities in the case aside from legal filings that for the most part sidestepped issues, with affirmation by pro-prosecution judges who failed to deal in any detail with allegations of mind-boggling prosecution irregularities.

Eric HolderEric Holder, left, the attorney general in the Democratic administration of President Obama, told this editor in an improptu interview after a speech that he was a unfamiliar with the Siegelman case, a highly dubious assertion.

Among the reasons: Holder's wife is an Alabama native, Holder personally fired Todd in 2009, and his Justice Department ardently and successfully fought the Siegelman and Scrushy petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court for review that included the unprecedented friend-of-court arguments by the 113 former state attorneys general arguing that Siegelman and Scrushy had not committed any crime because of the donations to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation.

Federal and state officials did pressure Fuller publicly and privately to resign from his lifetime appointment to the federal bench in 2015 after he was arrested the previous year for beating his wife, his former court clerk in the Siegelman-Scrushy case, in an Atlanta hotel room.

But that matter was separate from the many other scandals regarding the Siegelman/Scrushy cases and similar abuses that have remained unresolved and in many ways uninvestigated in any thorough manner.


Editor's Note: Former Justice Department paralegal Tami Todd delivered in her first broadcast interview a description of her experiences that generated strong commendation from fellow panelists regarding the importance of her revelations and her courage in making them. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was not able to participate. A recording of the program is expected to posted on this site soon. 


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Siegelman/Scrushy Case News Coverage


The rarely photographed U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery is shown at right in chambers in a portrait by freelancer Phil Fleming, Mark Fuller Phil Flemingused here with permission. The photo was minutes after the Siegelman-Scrushy jury verdict in June 2006. The convictions followed a nearly hung jury in what was a second trial for each defendant. Fleming told the Justice Integrity Project that he suggested to the judge, who summoned him into chambers to take photos for what the judge regarded as a notable occasion, that he "cut the Cheshire cat look" because the judge's happy countenance after a conviction seemed undignified for a portrait.



huffington post logoHuffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago.

Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006.

This makes the judge millions in non-judicial income with no notice to litigants that he is being enriched by the federal government while it is also litigating major cases in his court.

huffington post logoHuffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, May 21, 2009, Andrew Kreig, One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of uw clemonformer Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham, right, calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman.

huffington post logoHuffington Post, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power, Andrew Kreig, June 10, 2009. The plight of litigants who face a biased judge is illustrated by the track record of a prominent Alabama federal judge, as well by major recent decisions requiring new trials in West Virginia and Georgia courts.

The track record of Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, Alabama shows that he continues to supervise cases compromised by his personal, financial or political interests despite his promise at his 2002 confirmation hearing to recuse himself from any conflicts. Exposure of Fuller's record is timely because of the Senate's forthcoming hearings for Obama administration judicial nominees, and because of growing concerns about the recusal standard.

These include the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling June 8 that a West Virginia Supreme Court judge should have recused himself from a case involving a major contributor to his judicial election campaign. Also, a federal judge in Georgia admitted last month that he shouldn't have tried and sentenced a high-profile political adversary who now seeks dismissal of the charges.

huffington post logoHuffington Post, As Rove Testifies About Firings At Justice, Why Did DoJ Fire Whistleblower? July 8, 2009. New questions are surfacing about political intrigue at the U.S. Justice Department after former White House political strategist Karl Rove provided his long-awaited responses to House Judiciary Committee staff Tuesday about allegations that he pressured prosecutors to target Democrats nationally. Few details have emerged about Rove's questioning on such topics as the 2006 dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

GrimesBy remarkable coincidence, however, the Justice Department separately confirmed Tuesday that it has fired Alabama whistleblower Tamarah (Todd) Grimes. She was the top in-house paralegal for the prosecution team that won corruption convictions in 2006 against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, a Republican.

Grimes later provided her Justice Department superiors and Congress with evidence that the rights of the defendants were violated. Siegelman and Scrushy cited her revelations heavily in their motions since June 26 for a new trial based on new evidence. In an interview today for this article, Grimes alleged a bone-chilling conspiracy to frame the defendants for political gain.

She says her experiences opened her eyes to parallels outside Alabama and to the ruinous consequences for federal government employees of protesting injustice.

"No one helps you," says Grimes, who adds that she was browbeaten with threats of false criminal charges by her superiors and investigators alike. She says Congress needs to enhance protections for whistleblowers to prevent wrongdoing by government officials.

Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler responded, "The Department takes seriously its obligation under the whistleblower law, and did not violate it with regards to the termination of this employee. For privacy reasons, it would be inappropriate to comment any further on this personnel matter at this time."

huffington post logoHuffington Post, As Rove Testifies About Firings At Justice, Why Did DoJ Fire Whistleblower? Andrew Kreig, July 8, 2009. New questions are surfacing about political intrigue at the U.S. Justice Department after former White House political strategist Karl Rove, right, provided his karl rove HRlong-awaited responses to House Judiciary Committee staff Tuesday about allegations that he pressured prosecutors to target Democrats nationally.

Few details have emerged about Rove's questioning on such topics as the 2006 dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons. 



Justice Integrity Project, Judge Denies Siegelman Co-Defendant Scrushy New Trial, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 24, 2012. An Alabama federal judge imposed a reduced 70-month prison term for former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy Jan. 24 on a 2006 corruption conviction after denying Scrushy’s request for a retrial based on new evidence.

richard scrushy  and son resizedMiddle District Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller resentenced Scrushy for bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges involving the one-time billionaire’s donation beginning in 1999 to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation at the request of then-Gov. Don Siegelman. Scrushy, who has always disputed the size and circumstances of the donation alleged by prosecutors, is shown at right with one of his sons during a prison visit.

Justice Integrity Project, Supreme Court Denies Siegelman, Scrushy Appeals, Andrew Kreig, June 4, 2012. True to recent form, the U.S. Supreme Court denied relief June 4 to former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges.

This sets the stage for Siegelman's reimprisonment in the most notorious federal political prosecution and frame-up of the decade.

The court denied without comment the certiorari petition of Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth, Inc. In 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller sentenced them to seven-year prison terms on multiple charges from Siegelman's solicitation of donations from Scrushy in 1999 for the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation. Siegelman supported the foundation's initiatives to increase school funding with a state lottery over the opposition of a Republican-orchestrated coalition.



Justice Integrity Project, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 29, 2014. Federal authorities continued this month their remarkably harsh, unjust treatment of the nation’s most famous political prisoner. The U.S. legal jihad against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman continued even as the Obama administration separately cited “human rights” as the rationale for new U.S. sanctions and other interventions overseas.

Justice Integrity Project, Courts Strip Disgraced Judge Of Cases, Forbid Contact With Wife, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 17, 2014. A federal appeals court in Atlanta took the rare step last week of reassigning all cases from a prominent judge who had been arrested on a battery charge against his wife.

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman's Judge Charged With Wife-Beating, Affair With Clerk, Aug. 11, 2014. Atlanta police this weekend alleged wife-beating by the Alabama judge who helped railroad into prison former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.  Police charged U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller with battery early Aug. 10 following an altercation late Saturday night at the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Police did not identify the victim aside from saying it was Fuller's wife. Police reported that she was injured but declined hospital treatment.

Eric HolderJustice Integrity Project, Media Helped Eric Holder Polish His Image...."Bloody Sunday" Selma March Next Month Provides Another Stage, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 21, 2015. The media fail to report rampant abuses at the U.S. Justice Department.

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder polished his legacy Feb. 17 with a National Press Club speech that illustrated the sharp limits of political accountability and media curiosity in the nation’s capital. Holder (shown in an official photo) received for the most part the standard deferential treatment accorded to high officials. Moderators screened audience questions, as commonly the case, thereby keeping discussion focused within comfortable parameters.


Justice Integrity Project, Court Ruling Against Siegelman Compels New Strategies, Andrew Kreig, May 24, 2015. A federal appeals court last week rejected former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s latest appeal, thus inflicting a devastating defeat upon those who seek a rule of law in the United States. The misguided but unanimous ruling by three Atlanta-based judges requires new and more aggressive political priorities by justice seekers nationwide who have long been appalled by one of America’s worst human rights abuses.

We need to recognize more publicly that the vaunted U.S. system can inflict injustice repeatedly with utter ruthlessness and impunity in selective political prosecutions and cover-ups. The naïve believe that such judicial and prosecutorial misconduct occurs only overseas or in isolated and corrupt U.S. localities. Instead, certain prosecutions authorized at top federal levels are designed to ruin political enemies like Siegelman — his state’s most prominent Democrat during his 1999 to 2003 term and in the years shortly thereafter — and/or to protect the reputations of important institutions, as in the cover-up that has thwarted him and many other victims around the nation. 

Justice Integrity Project, Wife-Beating Siegelman Judge Resigns, Ends Horrid Career With Civic Lesson, Andrew Kreig. June 4, 2015.  A notorious federal judge has resigned under the threat of impeachment — Mark Fuller Mug Shotand thus provided a harsh but useful lesson for civic activists everywhere.

According to a federal court order June 1, fellow judges within the Atlanta-based Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recommended to the national Judicial Council that Alabama U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller be impeached as a first step for removal from his lifetime appointment. Fuller, a federal judge since 2002, announced through his attorneys his resignation effective Aug. 1.

The resignation provides important civic lessons in the career of a judge whose disgraceful conduct we have been documenting for six years. But the system has protected him until an Atlanta policeman arrested him last August in Atlanta on a misdemeanor charge of battery against his then-wife, Kelli Gregg Fuller. He is shown in a jail mugshot the morning of his arrest. A close study here and elsewhere of Fuller’s record has shown that his legally dubious decision-making has:

•    Benefited his political allies and other cronies;
•    Inflicted great suffering on political and personal targets appearing in his court;
•    Become involved in repeated personal scandals; and
•    Received until now minimal correction from timid oversight systems in the courts, Executive Branch and congress.


whistleblower summit banner


2022 Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival: Major Organizers, Selected Highlights

Members of the watchdog organization ACORN 8 host the annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival, held from July 25 through July 31.

The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival is an annual gathering of whistleblowers and their advocates, as well as civil rights community members on Capitol Hill. The event, formerly known as the Washington Whistleblower’s Week, is yearly organized in honor of whistleblowers and the first amendment activism. It is usually held during the week of July 30, the National Whistleblowers Day.

michael mccray marcel reid anti fraud award

ACORN 8 leaders Michael McCray and Marcel Reid, shown at right, were honored in 2021 as keynote speakers at the annual convention of the  Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), which reported nearly 90,000 in the world's largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education. 

ACORN 8 discovered a multi-million-dollar embezzlement at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and ignited a media firestorm that engulfed the venerable association in 2008. A boogie man of the right, ACORN had attracted numerous detractors. Some were disgruntled, others fought for political or partisan advantage but only the reform-minded ACORN 8 (a group of eight) stood the test of time as credible whistleblowers. In 2010, ACORN filed for bankruptcy to thwart public calls for transparency and accountability.

Organizers from ACORN 8 this year welcomed opened the 10 annual Summit on July 25 with this year's co-hosts: the Northeast Filmmakers Lab, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Recent events in the United States led to the theme for the annual conference: Does The Truth Still Matter? 50 Years After The Watergate Break-in. The host committee was joined by Former New York City Detective Frank Serpico, who received his Medal of Honor from New York Police Department over 50 years after his act of valor and courage.

Participants at the July 25 opening panel: Michael McCray, Mike Camoin, Frank Serpico, Marcel Reid and Dee Ann Divis.

July 25-29: Panels, Films and Co-located events (See schedule for details). Panels are free to watch but fees (either per film or for an overall pass) are required for films.

July 30: Tribute To Dick Gregory and Pillar Awards Presentation: Join Marsha Warfield, the celebrity host for the Tribute to Dick Gregory, in a celebration of free speech heroes and the awardees at the 10th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys & Poets restaurant. Speaking truth to power is difficult. Sometimes the hardest truths are best told through jest.

Participants on July 30 include: Marsha Warfield, Marcel Reid, Jimmy Cunningham.


reality winner cbs 60 minutes pelleyCBS 60 Minutes, Reality Winner: The 60 Minutes Interview, Scott Pelley, July 24, 2022. Reality Winner, shown above in a "60 Minutes" photo, was arrested in 2017 for leaking classified information about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. She has been recognized by whistleblower organizers for her actions.

Scott Pelley: You knew it was stamped "Top Secret." You knew what that meant.

Reality Winner: …I knew it was secret. But I also knew that I had pledged service to the American people. And at that point in time, it felt like they were being led astray.

Editor's Note: In 2021, the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival awarded its annual Shaw Marven award to Reality Winner, who in turned credited the Summit's recognition as an outstanding whistleblower for helping her transition to back to society (in Texas) after her imprisonment.

OpEd News, 10th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival Celebrates Whistleblowers from Knapp to Now! Michael McCray, July 25, 2022. ACORN 8, in association with the Northeast Filmmakers Lab (NEFL) and the Society of Professional Journalists (DC Pro Chapter), will co-host the 10th Annual Whistleblowers Summit & Film Festival from July 25 through July 31, 2022.

The Whistleblower Summit features FREE public policy panels online and on Capitol Hill (registration required). However, the Film Festival and Special Event Tickets range from $20 for individual tickets to $150 for week-long passes, which are available NOW at (www.WhistleblowerSummit.com).

Recent events led to the theme for the annual conference"Does The Truth Still Matter? 50 Years After The Watergate Break-in.

The hybrid event will take place virtually and on Capitol Hill and will include panel discussions with prominent whistleblowers, distinguished authors, emerging filmmakers, and policymakers. At its core, the Whistleblower Summit celebrates free speech and advocacy. "Sometimes the hardest truths are best told in jest. Thus we are pleased to announce a 'Tribute to Dick Gregory Comedy Showcase' as a capstone event for this year's summit." said Marcel Reid, Festival Director.

Famed New York City Detective Frank Serpico (David Burnham, NYT Reporter and Inspector Paul Delise) are nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award. Earlier this year, Frank Serpico received his Medal of Honor from NYPD over 50 years after his heroic actions resulted in the creation of the Knapp Commission. Prior recipients include Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley.

Alexander Vindman (Photo by Ana Isabel Martinez Chamorro).In recognition of more recent acts of moral courage, the Vindman brothers are nominated to receive the Shaw Marvin Pillar Award, the highest military whistleblower award presented at the Whistleblower Summit.

Alexander Vindman, right (Photo by Ana Isabel Martinez Chamorro) is the Former Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council. He and his brother suffered retaliation after Alexander reported a shakedown for military aid to Ukraine by Former President Trump. He is currently a doctoral student and senior fellow for the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). In addition, he is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Here, Right Matters.

"This is an exciting collaboration," said Mike Camoin, Northeast Filmmakers Lab.

The 10th Anniversary Whistleblower Summit features a screenplay contest and a new creative support incubator hosted by the Northeast Filmmakers Lab. NEFL empowers emerging filmmakers to complete and present their projects by leveraging world-class industry expertise. Our Hollywood Pitch Lab, a three-day immersive training, will conclude with a "Pitch Contest" to industry professionals for valuable prizes.

"So whether you are a filmmaker, screenwriter, or a whistleblower"everything starts with a pitch!" said Michael McCray, Managing Director. Finally, the film festival will include an educational screening of the Netflix docu-series MELTDOWN. This vital film portrays the Three Mile Island whistleblower and the advocates who supported him, presented by the Government Accountability Project (GAP) on Capitol Hill.


OpEdNews, Opinion: The Whistleblower Crackdown, John Kiriakou, July 26, 2022. This is National Whistleblower Week, with Saturday marking john kiriakouNational Whistleblower Appreciation Day. The National Whistleblower Center in Washington has its annual lunch, seminar, and associated events scheduled. Whistleblowers from around the U.S. attend, a couple members of Congress usually show up, and we talk about how important it is to speak truth to power.

I've been attending these events for much of the past decade. But I'm not sanguine about where our efforts stand, especially on behalf of national security whistleblowers. Since I blew the whistle on the C.I.A.'s torture program in 2007 and was prosecuted for it in 2012, I think the situation for whistleblowers has grown far worse.

In 2012, when I took a plea to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 for confirming the name of a former C.I.A. colleague to a reporter who never made the name public, I was sentenced to 30 months in a federal prison.

In 2015, former C.I.A. officer Jeffrey Sterling, who blew the whistle on racial discrimination at the agency, was sentenced to what Judge Leonie Brinkema called "Kiriakou plus 12 months," because I had taken a plea and Jeffrey had had the unmitigated gall to go to trial to prove his innocence. So, he ended up with 42 months in prison.

Things just got worse from there.

The prosecutors of drone whistleblower Daniel Hale asked Judge Liam O'Grady to sentence him to 20 years in prison. O'Grady instead gave Hale 46 months. But to spite him, and to show prosecutors' anger with the sentence, the Justice Department ignored the judge's recommendation that Hale be sent to a low-security hospital facility in Butner, North Carolina, and instead incarcerated him in the supermax facility in Marion, Illinois, with no treatment for his debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder.

I was in the courtroom during Hale's sentencing. When prosecutors asked for the draconian sentence, Hale's attorneys cited my sentence of 30 months and Sterling's 42 months. Prosecutors retorted that they had "made a mistake with
Kiriakou. His sentence was far too short."

It was clear that since my own case, the Justice Department's ongoing prosecutions of national security whistleblowers wasn't discouraging people from going public with evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality in the intelligence community. Perhaps, they thought, tougher sentences would do it. Don't count on it, I say.

In the meantime, I ran into another national security whistleblower at an event recently. He told me that the F.B.I. had recently paid him a visit. I chuckled and said, "Because you're so close to them and they've been so kind to you?"

We laughed for a moment, but he was serious. He is still on probation and the F.B.I. offered to get that probation lifted if he would tell them anything and everything he knows about Julian Assange and Ed Snowden. He told them that he speaks through his attorney and wanted no further contact with them. His attorney told the F.B.I. that his client had nothing to say, would tell them nothing about Assange or Snowden even if he knew something and to not contact his client again. They haven't.

The Assange Nightmare

If you're reading this, you've likely followed the nightmare that Julian Assange has been experiencing for years now. He could be extradited to the United States by next year and he faces more than a lifetime in prison. That's the Justice Department's goal - that Assange die in a U.S. prison. Ed Snowden likely faces the same fate if he were to find his way back to the U.S.

In order to try to smooth the path for Assange's extradition, prosecutors have promised British authorities that Assange would not be placed in a Communications Management Unit or a Special Administrative Unit, where his access to the outside world would be practically nil.

They've also promised that he would not be placed in solitary confinement.

But that's all nonsense. It's a lie. Prosecutors have literally no say in where a prisoner is placed. It's not up to the judge and it's not up to the prosecutors. Placement is solely at the discretion of the Bureau of Prisons (on recommendation from the C.I.A., which spied on Assange and his lawyers) and they haven't made any promises to anybody.

Belmarsh Prison in London is awful. But Supermax Marion, Supermax Florence, USP Springfield, USP Leavenworth, USP Lewisburg, and any of the other American hell-holes where Assange and other whistleblowers are and can be placed would be worse.

Though it's National Whistleblower Week, we can't pause to celebrate. We can't bask in minor successes.

We have to keep up the fight because that's what the Justice Department is doing.