July 31, 2002
In case you hadn't noticed

That new git-tuff-on-corporate-crime bill that Dubya signed and is shamelessly claiming cedit for despite opposing it every step of the way? It was supposed to contain full protection for corporate whistle-blowers, the people who will call attention to the future Enrons. Team Bush has decided that they don't want to support that, so they're interpreting it in such a narrow way as to render it meaningless.

Eight hours [after signing the bill], the White House quietly issued a statement outlining how it was interpreting several provisions, including one that grants federal protection to corporate whistle-blowers who present Congress with information that books had been cooked or investors misled.

Bush spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the White House views the provision as shielding whistle-blowers from company retaliation only if they talk to a congressional committee "in the course of an investigation." The protections would not apply when evidence is provided to individual lawmakers or aides, she said.

In other words, if you speak up about an unknown, ongoing fraud, you can still be harassed and fired. Only if the feds magically hear about it and undertake an investigation on their own will you be protected if you talk.

Even Republicans think that's wrong:

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called the White House move "disturbing."

"Our intention is to protect any whistle-blower who exposes wrongdoing to an individual member of Congress, a congressional committee, a media outlet or any other public entity," Grassley said. "Whistle-blowers need full protection. Otherwise they won't come forward. Problems won't see the light of day."

Via Nathan Newman.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 31, 2002 to National news