NPR: Whistleblowers Say DOJ Grants Failed to Protect Kids Behind Bars

NPR covered the story of GAP client Jill Semmerling, who faced retaliation after blowing the whistle on the misuse of Department of Justice grants by various states. These grants were intended to protect at-risk youth by ensuring they were not housed with criminal adults. However, “Kids who were abused in foster care and who ran away were being put in jails next to adult criminals,” while certain states continued to collect the funds. GAP Legal Director Tom Devine is quoted.

Key Quote: Tom Devine, the legal director at the Government Accountability Project, is Jill Semmerling’s lawyer. 

“She became a bloodhound trying to find out who was responsible for mixing domestic violence victims with hardened criminals” and trying to stop it, Devine says.  

Semmerling says she uncovered leads that the practice wasn’t isolated to Wisconsin. But her bosses allegedly told her not to go there. Eventually, she says, the Justice Department yanked her from the case altogether. 

The Guardian: Don’t Abandon Darfur, UN Whistleblower Says

GAP client and UN whistleblower Aicha Elbasri authored this piece in The Guardian urging the international body to put Darfur back on top of the policy agenda. She details her whistleblowing on unreported crimes by the Sudanese government and the International Criminal Court’s recent suspension of investigations into those crimes.

Key Quote: But I am convinced the international community does not know the whole truth about what is happening in Darfur. When I blew the whistle over Unamid and the UN’s deeply inadequate reporting on various government attacks – from bombings, rapes, to forced displacement and scorched earth campaigns by government forces, as well as rebel attacks on civilians – little was done. 

Los Angeles Times: After the Oscars, Edward Snowden the Sequel?

Laura Poitras’ documentary film Citizenfour – which tells the story of GAP client and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Feature Documentary category. This op-ed speculates about a possible film sequel on what’s next, recapping the debate on whether Snowden could receive a fair trial. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg asserts “Snowden and others like him can safely make their cases only outside of this country.”

Next month, ACLU Hawaii’s First Amendment Conference will feature a live conversation with Snowden followed by a screening of Citizenfour. While Snowden will be using a live video link from Moscow to join the event, don’t expect to see him on a smart phone anytime soon. Business Insider reports that Snowden is “wary of the iPhone because of his knowledge of the NSA’s surveillance tactics.” Newly published documents released by the whistleblower reveal the British spy agency GCHQ’s efforts to track iPhone users.

Spokesman-Review: Editorial – Ag-Gag Bill Isn’t in Public’s Best Interest

This opinion piece criticizes Washington state’s anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bill, which was heard yesterday by the House Committee on Public Safety. The measure “squelches revelations about cruel or unsafe conditions in the facilities that process our food” by protecting producers who potentially jeopardize public health. After hearing testimony and discussing the measure, the committee chairman said “it’s pretty clear that the bill can’t move any further.”


Sarah Damian is Communications Manager of the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.