Working Groups: An Alternative to Whistleblowing.

There is always another way to solve a problem.

I wrote yesterday that Whistleblowers (and leaks), were a symptom of the lack of health in our community, and specifically our leadership. Since then I have spent hours reading about and reviewing discussion panels on the lawsuit over NDAA 1012(2)(b), where Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, (and former Presbyterian minister), Chris Hedges and others are suing Obama and Leon Panetta for their unconstitutional actions.

I have followed the stories of many whistleblowers and seen what has happened to them after they speak up. We all know too well what happens. It is the only thing the mainstream press reports; how their lives are destroyed, they face financial ruin, their names are smeared in disinformation campaigns, they and their friends and family are threatened, at times with violence. We know it too well. So, why do we think this is our only option to create change in a community that has gone terribly wrong?

For the most part it seems clear that the leaders in our community and the press that supports them, encourage whistleblowers as it provides useful victims. It creates a name and a face that can be used to warn others that it is not worth it to speak out. And leaking is similar. Look at what we have learned from Manning and Assange: if you attempt to get the truth out through channels other than those controlled by our leadership you will be indefinitely detained, whether or not you are in an official prison, or have been found guilty. We may create temporary heroes out of Whistleblowers, but they are the ones who are forced to pay the price. Isn’t there another way to address the ills that face our community? To rely on the suffering of others just to speak about an ill, only makes the weaker among us grow more silent. So what can we do instead?

Chris Hedges said the other day, that the personal narrative of any president no longer matters. It is clear that from one president to the next, their actions are similar. For instance, from Bush through Obama, American’s constitutional rights are increasingly curtailed through expanding laws like the NDAA, section 1012, (2)(b). Bush and Obama speak of very different interpretations of our community, but their actions are the same. Hedges says this is because they are merely a useful brand, a figurehead for corporate control, by Goldman Sachs, Exxon, or many other “corporate persons”. Money is power, and in the States, money is our government.

The congress is supposed to keep the executive power of the white house in check. But as we are all too aware, our congressmen and women are also merely figureheads for corporate interests or individuals of enormous wealth. Section 1012(2)(b) of the NDAA was supported by both parties, and passed with very little dissent or discussion.

So what if?

What if instead of relying on leaks and whistleblowers, we created govermental working groups which could solve specific problems facing our communities, and demanded that CSPAN, create a news program, that was overseen by these working groups, and had a social media face as well? Each working group would be created by a citizen, who identified a problem. Rather then being a Whistleblower, they would be the head of a working group to help solve a problem they understood. They would be provided a salary, to replace the one they lost. And each group, would be assigned a panel from congress, to help as well. The congressional panel would however have no oversight for the working group, and would be working only for the group.

The working groups would also be allowed budget lines, for the help of attorneys and activists, to make sure they had broad support for their research and problem solving. This is only the inception of an idea. But it seems a much better alternative than asking individuals to be hung out to dry in order to intimidate others into not speaking about wrongs they observe. Complaints have only ever been a starting point. With this approach, we take one step further and begin to address the community ills. In doing so, we set up a standard for honor and dishonorable behavior at any level of leadership or citizenship.


Originally posted in February 2013. Revised in June 2016. 

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