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Jun 14, 2011

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Robert Diggins

I'm very optomistic about the public pressure which will be directed at Obama when you do rescind this award.

Susan Schibler

I’ve been an active supporter and advocate for federal whistleblower protection for nearly 20 years for reasons that for now will remain untold.

I’ve been struggling with adding a comment here that would be an honest and positive contribution. One that is not simply a venting of my own personal frustration witnessing the recent infighting of the whistleblower community. And one not viewed by those who don’t know me as blind loyalty to any one NGO or whistleblower.

Because I want to understand and remain educated on all whistleblower issues, I reached out and gathered information & opinions from both sides of this award issue. I value anyone’s opinion when presented in a level-headed and respectful manner. I’m pleased I was able to listen to some examples of this on both sides of the argument.

After careful consideration I have come to the conclusion the NGOs decision to go forward with the award and more importantly allowing the direct dialogue with the president is one I can support, not an easy one to support but I do support it. While I respect those who question and for good reasons do not agree with the award, I do not support the idea of the petition to recall the award.

Recently I was given some very sage advice. I was told I must reaffirm an earlier lesson to “stand up for myself when someone is trying to manipulate me...not fight back...but rather stand up for myself”. It was explained the actions can be the same but they come from two very different places - two different energies. Standing up for oneself will help with forward movement. Fighting will drain one’s energy. I offer this as food for thought.

Bryan Rahija

Bill, POGO's funders don't set our agenda -- they didn't with the recent White House meeting, nor have they ever. They fund us BECAUSE of our agenda.

JD

An award is something given to a person or a group of people to recognize excellence in a certain field. Do you really think this administration deserves to be given a golden seal of approval in the field of transparency and anti-secrecy?

This administration is refusing to prosecute those from the Bush camp for their war crimes, illegal spying and surveillance, prosecuting numerous whistleblowers instead.

While Obama's war on whistleblowers intensifies, why would you want to invite more of the same by giving him an award? What were you thinking?

Your excuses that Obama is not in charge are quite lame. If that was true, then you should be striving to meet with those U.S. Attorneys in charge of the ongoing prosecutions of whistleblowers. Of course, no photo-ops and no glory in that, therefore it's more fun to give an award to the President, isn't that what it's all about? Your benefactors are pleased, no feathers are ruffled and the beat goes on... Sounds like your typical MO, but this time you're not getting away without accountability to those whose interests you're supposed to represent - whistleblowers.

Coleen Rowley

I can only speak for myself but I did not intend our petition request as anything other than focused on the issue of the Obama Administration's track record, the increasing governmental secrecy and repression of government whistleblowers that has been ushered in to the surprise of many and counterdicting his campaign promises. As you well know, I have always supported and will continue to support the work of any NGO that is working to reduce government secrecy and to help whistleblowers safely reveal government fraud, waste, abuse, illegalities and/or serious risk to public safety. My op-ed (co-written with Bogdan Dzakovic) that was published by the LA Times last October "WikiLeaks and 9-11: What If?" explains where my views come from regarding the serious problem of excessive governmental secrecy and its terrible consequences for public safety.

Such life and death issues are way too important to allow anyone to get caught up in taking our criticism about the NGOs' flawed reasoning involved in awarding Obama a "transparency" award as if it's a personal criticism of your groups and the work you do. (I only point this out because clearly some of the commenters seem to have interpreted it this way.) I personally had strong hopes that the petition would cause POGO and the other groups to really think and re-consider if it would not be a good idea to rescind their award, especially in light of the truly common and important goal of reducing the unnecessary and counter-productive government secrecy which endangers us all.

I cannot help wondering if you are not seeing how the unjustified awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize actually served to embolden Obama to escalate war on Afghanistan and to start three new undeclared unconstitutional wars (Pakistan, Libya and Yemen). (By the way, the "Constitution Project" nonpartisan organization just initiated a lawsuit against Obama for his illegal war on Libya.)

Awards may seem innocuous but remember Bush's giving of the "Presidential Medal of Freedom" to Bremer and George Tenet to help cover up their fiascos? Did you not see the danger of how an award can work to cover up further wrongdoing? Please think about this and don't respond overnight. Of all the groups based in Washington DC, I would think POGO and the other four, given your commitment to open government and to reducing dangerous secrecy, would be best able to admit a mistake at this point.

"Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity." ---Lord Acton (famous for "Power corrupts...")

Bill Bergman

How did POGO's revenue increase so sharply in 2009? It appears to be in concentrated donations, given the sharp decline in the 'public support percentage' listed on your Form 990. Were the new/large 2009 donors (donor?) at all involved or communicating with you about the award prior to the award?

Robert MacLean

>>>"We have not come across a single whistleblower, activist, journalist who sees what you see, or hears what you hear; no one is supporting this award...well, except a handful of organiztaions' executives, board members, and the funding foundations maybe? And why is that, POGO?"<<<

Sibel Edmonds:

Including myself, there were many other "whistleblowers" who declined to sign this petition.

POGO, OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and OpenTheGovernment.org did the right thing and I support them.

scott kuechenmeister

it's 110 degrees here in the north of afghanistan and by mid day the wind feels like a hair dryer pointed at your face with no end. i've been in this area of the world on and off since 05 and after reading all this i am convinced that i understand these people better than my own.

i was a whistle blower the result of which was three months of daily harassment and retaliation. my last moments of work were spent jacked up against a wall, hands and feet spread while i was patted down for my own safety. not allowed to return to my camp i was jetted out of country the next day with a change of clothes and tooth brush.

during those three months of fun the easiest part were those last moments on that wall. had it not been for the people at pogo i'm pretty sure i'd be typing these words out in some federal prison. i don't give a damn about the noble prize, or the academy awards, but i do care that an individual with a conscience is able to find organizations like pogo to consult before stepping off that ledge.

while your busy tearing one another down take a moment to remember their are people with legitimate concerns that need counsel. we are at war and we have our own people opening the proverbial flood gates like mr. manning (who i am convinced would have not acted in the manner he had if he had spoken with one of your organizations). so anytime now please.

honestly, if i had obama's job, i'd shut you all down. give him an award for that.

Kelly Jonhson

I stand with POGO.

Name withheld so people leave me alone

Danielle, I have a question for you. I saw some names of whistleblowers on the petition. There was Tony Shafer and Colleen Crowley and I think Sibel Edmonds was also a whistleblower. Would you have fought and gone to talk to Obama for them like you did Thomas Tamm and Thomas Drake? If so then I think you did the right thing.

akak8

I beg to differ on so many points that POGO is a mere boing in my head. Do we live in the same country?
You just can't bring yourself to admit a gross mistake, eh?

I wholeheartedly stand by the whistle blowers as the make a diligent attempt to do what is fair and just in the eyes of many.

For you to negate this, and feel the president "deserves" this award leave me with a great deal of concern, and inclined towards a lack of credibility for your entity.

If I start to list the reason's he doesn't deserve it, we'll be hear all night. Perhaps tripling the deficit, illegal wars unilateral decisions are all OK in your book....

The kick back must be phenomenal- for an NGO... that it.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Charles D

"The problem is not at the White House, but rather at the level of the career prosecutors.." But the White House hires the prosecutors and they serve at the pleasure of the President, so if they are prosecuting whistleblowers, then that's what Obama wants.

"The issues are far better battled if energy is focused on opportunities to fix the ongoing, critical problems we collectively face. Our community needs help pushing the Department of Justice to end prosecutions of whistleblowers and limit the use of states secrets." If that statement is true, then why honor a President who is in charge of the Department of Justice that is doing the prosecutions and increasing the use of the state secrets argument? If you want to focus on fixing the problems, why applaud those who are exacerbating the problems?

What this boils down to is that POGO, like so many other NGO's in Washington, wants access, a seat at the table, and they will sell out their principles to get there. Any organization that really wanted to protect whistleblowers would be loudly blowing the whistle on President Obama's disgusting and egregious escalation of attacks against those loyal Americans who are trying to inform the nation of government malfeasance. Giving him an award for his epic failure to keep his campaign promises of transparency and openness and whistleblower protection is evidence enough that POGO has sold out.

Sibel Edmonds

I tried contacting you for your comment(s) but was not given access. Well, here is the rebuttal to this:http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/ We have not come across a single whistleblower, activist, journalist who sees what you see, or hears what you hear; no one is supporting this award...well, except a handful of organiztaions' executives, board members, and the funding foundations maybe? And why is that, POGO? Again, I tried to include your comment, and ask this via phone, but access was denied;-)

Avue

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decora

"The main reason for the increase in leaks prosecutions is that cases developed under the Bush administration “ripened” last year and this year"

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim: Alleged disclosure: 2009. Indicted: 2010.

Shamai Leibowitz: Alleged disclosure: 2009. Convicted: 2009.

Unknown Cambridge Wikileaks person(s): Alleged disclosure: 2009 / 2010. Grand Jury meeting: 2011.

Bradley Manning: Alleged disclosure: 2009. UCMJ Article 32 hearing: 2011.

Thomas Drake: Alleged disclosure: 2006. William Welch put on case: 2009

William Welch's boss: Lanny Breur. Appointed by Obama 2009.

'Breuer called Welch an "extremely smart and thoughtful lawyer. I think he's a dedicated public servant who's devoted his entire professional life to serving the American people."'

- LegalTimes blog ( http://bit.ly/kQLmcM )

"Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General who supervises the department’s criminal division, told me, “You don’t get to break the law and disclose classified information just because you want to.”

-Jane Mayer, The Secret Sharer, New Yorker, May 23 2011.

Note: Drake did not disclose classified information, nor was he accused of "disclosure". Note 2: there is no blanket law banning all disclosure of all classified information, as pointed out in Elsea's 2011 CRS paper http://bit.ly/kQ8hNe

---

I am a nobody in a far away state who has no skin in the game other than as a citizen and obscure blogger. I don't know anything about policy or politics or strategy. I do understand the need for activists to stick together. I do understand how awards work. I do think infighting is a waste of time and energy.

However.

I find it difficult to understand how the modern use of the Espionage Act has 'nothing to do with Obama', given the facts of the cases.

Joe Carson

Hi Danielle,

I am "on record" that POGO is "the gold standard" of watchdog NGO's -but with a caveat - when the gov't lawbreaking benefits it, then "not so much."

POGO has the influence to have the "broken covenant" campaign www.broken-covenant.org accomplish its objective - and if my concerns are substantiated, it means many, if not most, federal whistleblowers in past 33 years get "another bite at apple" to be restored, rehabilitiated, or restituted from the wrongs they have suffered.

I suggest the petition should be a "wake-up" call to POGO and the other involved NGO's who gave Obama the award - that they need more high profile whistleblowers on their boards, so the "play the game, it will go over well with our foundational funding sources reasoning" faces more sharp counterpoints from their Boards.

Thanks for whatever consideration you deem this to merit.

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