Panel is Centerpiece of National Assembly Aimed at Strengthening Federal Whistleblower Protections

(Washington) – The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is pleased to announce that tomorrow, as part of the National Whistleblower Assembly conference currently underway, a blockbuster panel discussion will be held on Capitol Hill examining the past, current, and future state of the controversy surrounding the warrantless wiretapping scandal.

The discussion, “Domestic Surveillance: The Next Steps,” will run from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Russell Senate Office Building 385, tomorrow (Tuesday) March 10. The panel will feature prominent individuals and nonprofit leaders involved with the secret surveillance scandal since the story broke in 2005. The panel will be moderated by GAP Homeland Security Director Jesselyn Radack, herself a Department of Justice whistleblower. Topics covered will include: the current FISA provisions; lawsuits against the Justice Department regarding Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of domestic surveillance; the Obama administration’s public stance on the matter; and what interested citizens, advocacy groups and politicians can do to ensure privacy rights. Participants in the panel include:

Thomas Tamm: In his first public speaking appearance, Tamm, the subject of a recent Newsweek cover story, will discuss his experience of working in the Justice Department unit handling wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies when he stumbled upon the existence of the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, which deliberately circumvented the FISA Court. He blew the whistle to the New York Times, which didn’t report the story for 18 months, after which President Bush condemned the leak as a “shameful act.” The Times won a Pulitzer prize for the story, but Tamm became the subject of a criminal leak investigation, and had his house raided, property seized, and friends and family interrogated

Marc Rotenberg: The Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) will discuss how EPIC is the lead plaintiff in a FOIA lawsuit to release the Justice Department’s most controversial Office of Legal Counsel memos on secret surveillance.

Michael Macleod-Ball: The Chief Legislative and Policy Counsel for the ACLU will discuss how the ACLU legislative agenda is geared toward addressing ongoing surveillance issues. In particular, he’ll touch on the expiring pieces of the Patriot Act, NSL reform, and the ACLU’s call for accountability of executive branch abuses in recent history – including a review of surveillance policies.

This panel is part of the National Whistleblower Assembly, an annual national conference of whistleblowers, which seeks many goals including raising awareness of pending federal whistleblower protection legislation to be introduced by the House this month. Last month, legislation that would have granted federal employees involved with stimulus funds the right to blow the whistle on uncovered wrongdoing, waste and fraud, was stripped out of the House-Senate conference committee that reconciled the $787 billion “Stimulus Bill.”

The NWA started on Sunday and has events running throughout Wednesday. Click here for a full list and updated schedule of events for NWA:

Individual co-sponsors of the NWA include GAP, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), National Whistleblowers Center (NWC), the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL), Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest, and the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW).

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.