Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Whistleblowers: Modern American Heros

Merrill Goozner of GoozNews covers a NY Times story about a former petroleum industry lobbyist, now working for the Bush administration, who watered down his office’s reports on the need for near-term action to halt global warming.

Goozner makes an important point in his post:
There’s a big difference between blowing the whistle and being a leaker. Whistleblowers take responsibility for their actions and suffer the career consequences, as today’s news amply points out.
The whistleblower in this case, Rick S. Piltz, was a former high official in the government’s Climate Change Science Program who resigned after the report was watered down.
Piltz could have remained in the shadows and leaked his information to the press. But instead he went to the Government Accountability Project, which provides legal assistance to government employees who want to go public with knowledge about government wrongdoing. In today’s New York Times story documenting his allegations, Piltz not only attached his name to the allegations that Philip Cooney, a non-scientist who previously lobbied for the American Petroleum Institute, added equivocating language to a 2002 global warming report, but he provided the documents that proved the allegations.
We are living in a political environment that more closely resembles the late Soviet Union than the democracy we once cherished. Republicans in the House of Representatives tolerate no wavering from the party line by the shrinking body of Republican moderates. The Senate is moving quickly to imitate the House by shutting down any minority rights. The courts are being taken over by right-wing ideologues and all public policy is determined in the White House and dictated to political appointees in the Cabinet agencies, leaving increasingly frustrated government employees to simply carry out Karl Rove's orders.

In times like these, our only hope may lie in the whistle blowers who have the courage to reveal what's really going on behind the scenes and who's pulling the strings.

And by the way, check out GoozNews, which I'm adding to my blogroll.