DRAFT - 8/13/2011
There's a dirty little secret in the legal community that there are groups you can hire to harass and intimidate clients' enemies and critics. Attorneys that know about these groups are afraid of them.
I first heard about this from a wealthy Atlanta friend who boasted that his attorney found people to harass a young man out of his job at Delta Airlines for becoming too friendly with my friend's ex-wife.
Later, while I was searching for help with my own whistleblower retaliation problems, I saw whistleblower “treatment” was listed prominently in the brochure from one of Atlanta's largest private investigation firms. “Treatment” was clearly a euphemism for silencing. (See http://ReportingWrongdoing.com for my story.)
HBGary Disclosures By Anonymous
We saw dramatic documentation of these activities when PowerPoint presentations describing how critics and enemies of the Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce could be intimidated into silence when an Anymous group of computer hackers leaked the contents of federal intelligence contractor HBGary's servers to the public. The casual, cavalier way these PowerPoint plan were presented show these practices are commonplace.
Hunton Williams, the large, prominent Washington DC law firm that was the intended recipient of these PowerPoint proposals was recommended to the Bank of America by the U.S. Department of Justice.
A War Against Whistleblowers
Glen Greenwald, a noted civil liberties attorney and Salon.com columnist, has written extensively and very eloquently about the Obama Administration's war on government whistleblowers. The Obama Administration has been extraordinarily aggressive in prosecuting people for leaking even the most benign national security information that embarrasses the federal government.
Glen Greenwald was also an intended target of the HBGary operations to intimidate and harass Bank of America enemies and WikiLeaks supporters. See Salon.com for links showing the contents of those PowerPoint presentations.
Whistleblower assistance groups like the Project On Government Oversight and Government Accountability Project complain bitterly about poor protections for federal whistleblowers – see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/project-on-government-oversight/whistleblowing-laws-and-c_b_915420.html
It's important to emphasize these assistance groups and whistleblower attorneys in general deal ONLY with potentially lucrative cases involving mismanagement and fraud against the U.S. Government that can be pursued under the False Claims Act. The law provides for triple damage awards that in one case exceeded a billion dollars.
If you are a corporate whistleblower whose activities do NOT fall under the narrow definitions of a False Claims Act case involving fraud against the federal government, whistleblowing attorneys and assistance groups will NOT help you. Notice the words “federal”, “national” and “government” in their names and on their websites – that is their ONLY mission and scope.
Corporate whistleblowers have NO special protections under the law. Powerful corporations often maintain close relationships with law enforcement agencies and the legal community. If you try to pursue whistleblower retaliation investigations yourself, you may be accused of stalking, trespass or invasion of privacy.
Corporations vet their senior level employees very carefully for loyalty and they hire intelligence operatives to watch employees they worry about. Sixty to seventy percent of our national security budget is paid to private intelligence contractors, some of whom are corrupt. (See Tim Shorrock's excellent, well documented book, “Spies for Hire.”)
Private intelligence contractors can work for both corporate clients and the federal government. Their government activities give them access to sophisticated intelligence resources and allows them to operate with impunity for their private clients. Larger intelligence contractors often advise multiple federal agencies a high levels and can get cooperation and complicity from the law enforcement groups they work with.
There's a reason we don't hear more from whistleblowers, especially given all the fraud in the mortgage and banking industries - whistleblowers are being silenced.