Senator Chuck Grassley’s defense of whistle blower is better late than never

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Chuck Grassley’s defense of whistleblower is better late than never

Chuck Grassley deserves credit for stepping up to the plate.

Grassley, the veteran Republican from Iowa, has for decades been the Senate’s foremost advocate for and defender of government whistleblowers. For nearly a week, though, some of us have wondered why Grassley remained silent as President Trump and his supporters repeatedly and harshly castigated the whistleblower who catalyzed the current Ukraine-related controversy. The silence continued even as the president urged that the whistleblower lose the identity-protection ordinarily due someone in his position.

Grassley made up for his silence today. He criticized Trump for the attacks, and said the whistleblower “appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

At somewhat greater length, Grassley continued:

“No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country. When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy. Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility.”

Grassley is entirely right, on all counts. The protocols call for the inspector general of the agency in question to determine the validity of the whistleblower’s status and the credibility of the information offered. In this case, the inspector general for the intelligence community, a Trump appointee, determined that the whistleblower status was indeed merited. We since have seen that most of the key information he offered was indeed accurate.

We also have seen Trump suggest that the whistleblower is a “spy” who should suffer “big consequences.” This is chilling. For anyone in a senior position in government to threaten retaliation against a whistleblower is almost always a significant violation of the law. For the president to do so, with the vast powers of his office, is more than a little sinister.

That’s why it is so important for someone with Grassley’s Senate seniority, credibility, and reputation for probity to speak up. The whistleblower’s information will stand or fall on its own merits, without any need to know who the whistleblower himself is, much less threaten him. The entire point of whistleblower statutes is to protect those who want to report malfeasance without reprisal, especially reprisal from the most powerful man on the planet.

John Kelly reportedly used to mute the line: urge Trump not to discuss sensitive topics

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

John Kelly reportedly used to mute the line during calls with world leaders to urge Trump not to discuss sensitive topics

Trump on Phone
President Donald Trump is seen through a window speaking on the phone with King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, in the Oval Office of the White House, January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC.
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump is facing new scrutiny over his calls with world leaders after a whistleblower flagged a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, in which Trump urged him to investigate a political rival.
  • The whistleblower alleged that a number of presidential transcripts have been locked away in a codeword-level system “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”
  • White House advisers such as former chief of staff John Kelly even sought to prevent Trump from divulging sensitive information to world leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
  • Kelly reportedly used to mute the line and urge Trump to stop discussing sensitive information.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, used to mute the line during President Donald Trump’s calls with world leaders to tell him not to continue discussing sensitive information, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

The news comes amid political turmoil over a recent call in which Trump urged the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s main political rivals.

The July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky was the subject of an explosive whistleblower complaint and has spurred an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats.

Read moreThe White House reportedly tried to conceal transcripts of Trump’s calls with other world leaders, including Russia’s Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman

The controversy has cast new scrutiny over Trump’s previous communications with other world leaders. The whistleblower indicated in his complaint that a number of presidential transcripts have been locked away in a codeword-level system “solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”

The Journal reported Saturday that White House advisers such as Kelly sought to prevent Trump from divulging sensitive information to world leaders on such calls, and other government officials sought to keep a tight lid on records of those conversations.

john kelly
John Kelly.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Their efforts began after a number of controversies at the onset of Trump’s presidency, including an infamous call with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in which Trump lambasted a “rotten” refugee deal the Obama administration brokered with the Australian government.

Trump also took heat for another contentious phone call with then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, reportedly telling him, “We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.”

Read moreTrump’s actions with Ukraine were ‘profoundly stupid’ and beyond anything any president has ever done, historians and veteran diplomats say

After the Australia and Mexico calls, the National Security Council “severely cut back” on the number of people to whom those call records were sent, The Journal reported, citing people knowledgeable of the situation.

Instead, the call records were sent only to people directly involved in the issues discussed in the call, according to The Journal’s sources.

Vaza Jato reveals that Lava Jato used illicit evidence to pressure future whistle blowers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Vaza Jato reveals that Lava Jato used illicit evidence to pressure future whistle blowers

Intercept’s new leaks chapter has the potential to nullify the entire operation. In one message Deltan Dallagnol makes it clear that he was doing something wrong. “Dear, total secrecy, even internally. Don’t even comment in here: Swiss are coming here next week,” he wrote.

(Photo: Fernando Frazão / Brazil Agency)

247 – “The Lava Jato task force in Curitiba systematically used informal contacts with authorities from Switzerland and Monaco to obtain illicit evidence aimed at arresting priority targets – imprisoned pre-emptively, many of which became whistle blowers. Mentions to this This type of illegal practice was frequently found in conversations between 2015 and 2017, as revealed by Telegram application messages sent by anonymous source to The Intercept Brasil and analyzed in partnership with Uol “, points out the new report of the partnership between Intercept and Uol.

“Even alerted to the breach of the rules, task force prosecutors had access to illegal evidence on several of the operation’s most prominent whistle blowers – such as then-Petrobras directors Paulo Roberto Costa and Renato Duque; then Transpetro president Sérgio Machado , as well as Odebrecht executives, including former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, “says the text signed by Igor Mello, Gabriel Savoy, Jamil Chad, Silvia Ribeiro and Leandro Demori.

“Dear, total secrecy, even internally. Don’t even comment in here: Swiss are coming here next week. They’ll be between December 1 and 4, meeting with us, in the front building. Neither press nor anyone outside should know. Orlando will be with them all the time, just like me (who will be out on Wednesday.) See what they need from Switzerland and feel free to go any time, stay in meetings as long as they want, “wrote Deltan Dallagnol in 2015,

The use of illicit information was even considered to pressure Sérgio Machado to close the award. The proposal, which was discarded, was made by Paulo Roberto Galvão, from Lava Jato in Curitiba. “If it is pressure that SM needs, we are aware of his son’s account in Switzerland,” he said on April 13, 2016, in the “BSB -CWB Connection” chat, to the prosecutor Sérgio Bruno Cabral Fernandes who was negotiating the allegation of Axe.

“This is information that we cannot use at all, because it was passed to us by the Swiss. But I think that if necessary you can imply that Curitiba already has knowledge” of accounts abroad “, detailed Galvão.

Brazil: Lava Jato spares Odebrecht owners and executives to plead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS AGENCY)

 

Lava Jato spares Odebrecht owners and executives to plead

The new chapter of Vaza Jato reveals that contractor Odebrecht’s owner Emilio was spared tougher measures, such as the obligation to relinquish control, so that prosecutors could strike award-winning deal deals with company executives. At another controversial point, the company was allowed to pay the fines of its award-winning whistle blowers.

Emilio Odebrecht to Leave Odebrecht Board Early
Emilio Odebrecht to Leave Odebrecht Board Early

247 – The new chapter of Vaza Jato, brought by journalists Ricardo Balthazar and Paula Bianchi, in a report published in Folha, reveals behind-the-scenes negotiations about Odebrecht’s award-winning accusation. “Prosecutors of Operation Lava Jato spared Odebrecht and its top executives from drastic measures contemplated during negotiations on the billion-dollar deal that ensured the company’s cooperation with investigations starting in 2016,” the report said.

“Investigators also discussed the possibility of preventing Odebrecht from paying whistle blowers’ lawyers and being liable for fines imposed on executives to prevent them from preserving their accumulated assets when they were involved in corruption at the company,” reporters note. According to them, the prosecutors set aside these measures as the negotiations progressed, so as not to derail the deal with Odebrecht, which was one of the largest business groups in the country and went into crisis when it was hit by the Lava Jato. “

In June 2016, Deltan and two other attorneys suggested to colleagues that the company be prevented from taking the fines. “Executives must afford it, in my opinion,” he said on Telegram. He proposed that the company be punished for terminating the deal if it paid executive penalties. However, the second option prevailed: the company paid the fines of its awarded whistle blowers.

Navy Promotes SEAL Commander In Defiance Of Congress

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Navy promotes SEAL commander in defiance of Congress

March 31 at 3:29 PM
In defiance of Congress, the Navy has granted a retroactive promotion, back pay and a bigger pension to an admiral whom lawmakers forced to retire last year after multiple investigations found he had retaliated against whistleblowers, records show.Brian L. Losey, a former commander of the Navy SEALs, rose in rank to become a two-star Rear admiral in January after the Navy conducted a secretive and unusually rapid review of his case during the final days of the Obama administration, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Losey’s promotion came two months after he retired from the military under duress, the casualty of a clash between Navy leaders who wanted to reward the combat-hardened SEAL commander and a bipartisan group of senators who demanded his ouster after the investigations determined he had violated whistleblower-protection laws.

The dispute represented a rare public challenge by senior military leaders to congressional oversight of the armed forces, and left lingering resentments on both sides. Lawmakers thought they had prevailed by blocking Losey’s promotion last year, but the newly obtained documents reveal the Navy had the last word.

The promotion capped a long-running controversy over Losey’s record as a commander of the SEALs and other elite Special Operations forces during a highly decorated 33-year military career.

Three separate investigations by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that Losey had wrongly fired, demoted or punished subordinates during a vengeful but fruitless hunt for an anonymous whistleblower under his command.

Losey denied wrongdoing. Navy leaders dismissed the findings after conducting their own review and decided in October 2015 to promote him anyway. But members of Congress objected strenuously when they learned about the case from a report in The Post, and pressured Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to block Losey’s advancement.

Mabus resisted at first as many other admirals pushed him to stand behind Losey. After the Senate upped the ante by freezing the nomination of the Navy’s second-ranking civilian leader, the service announced in March 2016 that Mabus would reluctantly deny Losey’s promotion, effectively ending his military career.

The documents obtained by The Post, however, show that Mabus later reopened the case. On Jan. 12, during his last week in office as an Obama political appointee, Mabus signed a memo boosting Losey’s rank from a one-star to a two-star admiral.

Losey, 56, will stay retired, but the documents show that his promotion will benefit him financially for the rest of his life.

His higher rank entitles him to a bigger annual military pension. It will swell to about $142,000 this year, an increase of $16,700, according to Defense Department figures.

He will also receive a one-time check for about $70,000 in back pay because the Navy dated his promotion retroactively to the date when he first became eligible for a second star.

Sen. Grassley: Navy commander denied promotion ‘can only blame himself’

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Speaking on the Senate floor April 6, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey was “an honored naval officer” but was “a serial retaliator” who deserved to be denied a promotion. (United States Senate)

Mabus declined to comment. His decision to promote the admiral was based on a recommendation from the Board for Correction of Naval Records, a quasi-judicial panel that fields requests from veterans to review potential errors in their personnel files.

The board has the authority to fix mistakes or “remove injustices” from a veteran’s permanent military record, according to its mission statement.

Losey retired Nov. 1. Three weeks later, he submitted a petition to the board, arguing that he had been unfairly denied promotion because the inspector general and his critics in Congress were biased against him.

“The damning assertions against my leadership are not supported by the facts, and these errors in fact contributed to an unjust outcome,” he wrote.

The Board for Correction of Naval Records receives 12,000 applications annually and typically takes between 10 and 18 months to issue a final decision, according to Navy officials.

Losey’s application was approved by the board and Mabus in seven weeks.

Experts in military law said they had never heard of a case being reviewed so quickly.

“I’m not passing any judgment on his promotion and whether he deserves it or not, but the process certainly does look suspicious,” said Raymond J. Toney, a Utah attorney who specializes in such cases and who reviewed Losey’s file at The Post’s request. “It suggests to me that the Rear Admiral has some friends who did not want to see him go down in flames at the end of his career.”

Eugene R. Fidell, a lecturer on military justice at Yale Law School, said the speed in which Losey’s appeal was heard made it appear that the outcome was predetermined. “The circumstantial evidence suggests to me that this was wired,” he said.

Navy officials denied that Losey was given special treatment.

In a statement, Capt. Amy Derrick, a Navy spokeswoman, said the Board for Correction of Naval Records “provides a full and fair hearing on all requests that are complete and submitted in accordance with established procedures.”

Thomas Oppel, who served as Mabus’s chief of staff until both left office in January, said in an interview that any suggestion the Navy rushed the process during the waning days of the Obama administration was “a whole lot of speculation without foundation.”

“This is a case that had been freshly investigated, and the facts were fairly well-known,” Oppel added.

Losey deferred questions about how his petition was handled to the Navy. “I followed processes available to me,” he wrote in a brief message to The Post. “I do business by the book and have always aimed to be fair.”

Members of Congress who had urged the Navy to hold Losey accountable for punishing whistleblowers said they were dismayed to learn about the admiral’s promotion.

“Cases like these send the wrong message about whistleblower retaliation,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an emailed statement. “When accountability is lacking, retaliation continues. Good government suffers.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who held up the confirmation of the Navy’s second-ranking civilian leader last year in a tactic to block Losey’s rank advancement, said he was disappointed but not surprised.

“The Navy leadership has long sought to sweep away the inspector general’s findings and make excuses for one of its own, and Secretary Mabus’s decision to grant Admiral Losey a backdoor promotion is yet another disappointing example,” Wyden said.

A spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee said the panel was not informed of Losey’s post-retirement request for promotion until after it was finalized. Other lawmakers said they were unaware of his new rank until they were told by The Post.

A prominent figure in the military’s secretive Special Operations forces, Losey served as the head of the Naval Special Warfare Command from 2013 to 2016. He formerly commanded SEAL Team Six, the clandestine unit known for hunting terrorist targets. He deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Panama and other conflict zones.

The Navy first tried to promote Losey to become a two-star admiral in 2011. The Senate confirmed his nomination that year. But the move was put on hold when the Defense Department’s inspector general began investigating Losey’s actions while serving as commander of Special Operations forces in Africa.

Five of Losey’s subordinates filed complaints that he had unfairly fired or punished them during a ham-handed hunt for a suspected whistleblower. After spending four years interviewing more than 100 witnesses and reviewing 300,000 papers of emails, the inspector general determined that Losey had violated whistleblower-protection laws in three of the cases.

The outcome marked a rare instance of a commander being found guilty of misconduct in a whistleblower case. The Defense Department’s inspector general receives more than 1,000 whistleblower cases each year, but upholds only about three percent of them.

Losey asserted that he had acted within his rights as a commander and that he had merely held his staff accountable for mediocre work.

Despite the findings of the inspector general, the Board for Correction of Naval Records sided with Losey, concluding that there was “insufficient evidence” that Losey had violated whistleblower-protection laws.

Moreover, the board found that Mabus had never signed paperwork formally denying the admiral’s promotion before he retired.

In a unanimous vote on Jan. 11, the panel recommended that Mabus grant Losey’s request for the higher rank and back pay, documents show.

Mabus signed a memo approving the decision the next day.

Russia The Olympics And President Putin

 

Tomorrow the people who run the Olympics and their anti doping committees are going to make their decisions public about Russia’s State ran doping programs during the 2008 Sochi Olympics. These committees have a tremendous amount of proof against the Russian government for their crimes, yet the question is do they have the guts to do their job? At question is whether the people who are responsible for making sure that the Olympics are fair have any integrity themselves. Pretty much every nation including Russia knows that the Russians systematically cheated, so the question is will there be any penalties levied against Russia? The Olympic bosses do have the authority to revoke every metal that the Russian athletes fraudulently wear around their necks. They also have the authority to ban Russia from the Summer Olympics that are about to start in Brazil. These anti doping committees have had the proof for over a year now and yet they have sat on their hands and procrastinated right up to this point in time. Evidently these folks are cowards who are too afraid to do their job that they are being paid to do. Does this make themselves complicit? Two of the Russian ‘whistle-blowers’ are now dead, this is part of why I said that they may be too scared to do their job.

 

I know that I am a nobody and that my thoughts and opinions mean nothing to anyone in a position of power. Yet as a citizen of the world who happens to enjoy sports I have always been hardcore about events being fair. I am a person who does not want my favorite football or baseball team to win a game or a title on a bad call, even more so I do not want my team to win by blatant cheating. So, here is my thoughts on this issue concerning the Olympic chieftains. Either they revoke Russia’s 2008 Metals and they ban Russia from these 2016 Olympics or the Olympic Games themselves should cease to exist! Why should we the fans keep supporting a fraud? President Putin has proven himself to be a fraud on many issues and this is just another one. It is unfortunate that such a man has dragged down the beautiful country of Russia and trashed the hard work of all their nations Olympians. Have the Olympics themselves just become a laughing-stock and a sham? Tomorrow, we shall all see if these Summer Olympics in Brazil are even worth turning on our  TV to watch!

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