Week of 4.13.07
This Week: About the Show | Notable Whistleblowers | Hedge Funds 101 | Interview: Journalist Duff McDonald | Question of the Week | TranscriptLearn more about "whistleblowers" who have bravely risked their livelihoods to create a more open and honest democracy.
Veteran government auditor Bobby Maxwell blew the whistle on oil giant Kerr McGee and brought them to court. A jury voted in favor of Maxwell but the decision has since been dismissed on technical grounds.
"I felt very strongly that the American taxpayers just had $10 million stolen out of their pocket," Maxwell told NOW.
» NOW: The Royalty Treatment
Former SEC lawyer-turned whistleblower Gary Aguirre investigated a hedge fund and says he was banned from probing a Wall Street titan with close ties to the Bush Administration.
"I was just following an evidence trail, and it led to that door," Aguirre tells NOW. "The logical thing was to knock on the door and try to find out what was behind it."
» NOW: Stock Alert
Lawrence Wilkerson was Chief of Staff under then Secretary of State Colin Powell when Powell made his landmark speech to the United Nations outlining the Bush Administration's case for the Iraq war. Wilkerson helped Powell craft the address, but said he later learned much of Powell's speech was false. "I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community, and the United Nations Security Council," he said.
We spoke to Wilkerson and reported on the serious doubts that existed about the evidence used by the American government when Powell's speech was planned and delivered.
» NOW: Artificial Intelligence?
Wilkerson speaks out often against the war in Iraq and is an adjunct professor at The College of William and Mary, and a professorial lecturer in the Honors Program at the George Washington University.
Mark Klein alleged that AT&T cooperated with the National Security Agency in 2003 to install equipment capable of eavesdropping on the public's e-mail messages and other Internet traffic. He worked for AT&T as a technician for over 22 years, first in New York and then in California, before leaving the company in 2004.
Klein prepared a statement and a number of documents describing what he called a "secret room" at the AT&T Internet and telephone hub in San Francisco which he said holds a piece of equipment capable of sifting through large volumes of Internet traffic. The material has been submitted as part of a class-action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, against the telecom giant. In the January 2006 suit, the Foundation alleges AT&T helped the security agency invade its customers' privacy.
» NOW: For Your Eyes Only
Mark Klein is still speaking publicly about his allegations involving AT&T.
Kevin Gambrell was the director of the Federal Indian Minerals Office in Farmington, New Mexico from 1996 until he was fired in 2003. He spoke to NOW's Maria Hinojosa last year about what he described as widespread abuse by oil and gas companies in their efforts to avoid royalty payments. Gambrell accused some of these companies of lying and cheating, which he said could cost American taxpayers billions of dollars. Gambrell also said that the Minerals Management Service, the governmental bureau in charge of collecting such royalties, "fail in their duties to protect taxpayers."
» NOW: Crude Awakening
» NOW: Web-extended Interview with Gambrell
Gambrell sued for wrongful termination and said he and the department have reached a confidential settlement.
Once the top civilian supervising billions of dollars in work assignments from the Army Corps of Engineers, Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse knows a thing or two about government contracts.
In 2005, Greenhouse told NOW's David Brancaccio why she alleged that Halliburton and its subsidiaries were able to get preferential treatment, including billion-dollar contracts, for Iraq rebuilding projects.
She testified before Congress that the contracts awarded to one of these subsidiaries, KBR, represented the "most blatant and improper contract abuse" that she had witnessed during her 20 year tenure working for the government. Greenhouse's reward for whistleblowing? A demotion from her job as the top contract overseer.
» NOW: October 14, 2005 Bunnatine Greenhouse Interview
» NOW: July 14, 2006 Bunnatine Greenhouse Interview
Though demoted in August 2005, Greenhouse still works for the Army. About her new role, Bunnatine said, "Well nobody steals my joy. And I'm going to make sure that I'm contributing wherever I am."
When Coleen Rowley was an FBI agent in Minneapolis, her office got a lead just three weeks before 9-11: A known Islamic extremist named Zacarias Moussaoui had paid $8,000 in cash for lessons to fly a Boeing 747. Rowley's team arrested him and wanted a warrant to search his laptop computer but Rowley's superiors at FBI headquarters would not allow it.
After 9/11, Rowley wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller a letter stating that "no one will ever know" the impact the computer search would have had calling Mueller's defense of the agency a "rush to judgment to protect the FBI at all costs." She testified in a Senate hearing a few weeks later. Rowley was chosen by TIME magazine as one of their Persons of the Year in 2002.
» NOW: March 4, 2005 Coleen Rowley Interview
In 2006, Rowley ran in Minnesota for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but lost to incumbent John Kline.
Robert Ricker was the first major whistleblower from the gun industry, a former lobbyist who said major gun manufacturers deliberately look the other way while some dealers sell their guns to criminals. Ricker, former executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, battled the industry he used to protect and said much more could be done to take illegal guns off our streets.
NOW spoke with Ricker at the end of 2005 about the profit incentive that allows gun manufacturers and the gun industry to enjoy preferential treatment and legal advantages.
» NOW: The Gun Lobby
Robert Ricker is now Executive Director of the American Hunters and Shooters Association
Dr. David Graham
Dr. David Graham, the Food and Drug Administration's associate director for science and medicine, blew the whistle before the Senate Finance Committee in November, 2004 on what he called the FDA's "profound regulatory failure" to protect the public against lethal prescription drugs. He specifically revealed how his FDA superiors tried to silence him and quash evidence that indicated a drug called Vioxx was unsafe.
» NOW: What's In the Medicine Cabinet?
David Graham is an associate director at the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Drug Safety. He has emerged as a leading voice for drug safety, speaking out on a variety of drug issues.