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Dec 16 2008

In Answer to Annie

Annie took me to task for thanking Thomas Tamm and pointing up the need for whistleblowers. Cujo359 answered her quite well, but I’m going to expand on that a bit here.

First off, I have blown the whistle. I lost my job over it. So I guess that makes two of us.

Secondly, silence does fuck-all to help anyone. Noise gets attention. And attention sometimes leads to people who can help:

The bottom line is that Tom Tamm blowing the whistle is probably the linchpin behind us knowing what we do about the egregious unconstitutional and illegal actions of the Bushies. Tamm coming forward at this time may also prove to be critical in forming Judge Walker’s mind on his review of the immunity assertion.

A lot of readers have asked about how to donate to Tamm’s legal defense fund. In that regard, I contacted Mr. Tamm’s attorney, Paul Kemp and obtained the information; here is the response:

Hi [bmaz]. Thanks for your inquiry. The address of the defense fund
is:

Thomas Tamm Legal Defense Fund
Bank of Georgetown
5236 44th Street
Washington, DC 20015.

Tom appreciates your support and that of your readers. [Some
unrelated chit chat on another matter redacted]

Paul F. Kemp

Irrespective of his precise personal motivations, Tom Tamm has done the Constitution, the Fourth Amendment, the rule of law and all of us a favor by exposing the rank lawlessness of the elected leaders of this country. If you see fit, send him a few bucks to lighten the load he has taken on.

Thirdly, even if not accompanied by fundraising, getting stories like Mr. Tamm’s out in the open accomplishes a great many things. It’s called consciousness-raising. Whistleblowers go through hell and back in part because people don’t know enough to care. They don’t realize what comes after that whistle’s blown. They don’t stop to think about the consequences of silence. Making some noise means that regular people become aware of both, and can take action. They’ll see the need to pressure lawmakers to pass legislation that will put heavy penalties in place for retaliation, for one thing. And who knows? Maybe the writer of the story can’t help directly, but maybe one of the readers is in a position to offer a job, or representation, or any one of a dozen necessary things.

Fourthly, what the fuck am I supposed to do? Ignore the sacrifice? Not even say “thank you”? Show no appreciation whatsoever for the person who brought abuses to light, thus making me aware and empowered? You may not feel the same way, Annie, but plenty of people find at least a bit of comfort in knowing that there are people who appreciate that sacrifice and are grateful for it. I know I did. And it felt good doing the right thing, even though I got shafted for it.

And finally, I’ll stand by my call for more people to come forward and reveal abuses. It’s up to the individual to decide if the risks are worth it, but I have no compunction about calling for people to bring light to dark caves. Even if all I have to offer in turn is gratitude, my sympathy for the hell they’ll go through, and my ability to kick up a fuss in the blogosphere on their behalf.

No one ever promised it would be easy. No one ever promised virtue would be rewarded, and evil punished. But I believe the greater evil is to let fear and risk silence us in the face of outrageous abuses.

I don’t imagine, after your experience, that any of that will hold any water with you, Annie. On this one thing, we may have to acknowledge an impasse and move on.

1 comment

  1. 1
    Woozle

    In response to Annie (in her comments on the earlier post):[ on the issue of praising whistleblowers ]Not everyone gets the opportunity to blow a whistle, so it’s not really fair to say “if you haven’t done it yourself, don’t encourage others”. While I might consider it a duty for myself (depending on the crime involved), I would certainly not expect it of someone else; it’s impossible to judge someone else’s situation from outside and make what you rightly point out could be a life-threatening decision.For myself, given the opportunity to either sit back or make a fuss, I have twice been given the opportunity and twice chosen to make a fuss. I walked out with the staff of The Athens Observer (GA) in 1993. I sent email to the upper management at Pierce Manufacturing in 1998 when it became clear that the project I was working on for them was being mismanaged; my contract wasn’t terminated for that, but when I later tried to explain to their VP that due to his lack of technical understanding of our project (which he ended up running after a series of management shifts) he essentially had to trust the judgment of his programmers (of which I was one), that was apparently too much and I was escorted out of the building.Furthermore, I’ve been spending all my available free time (and then some) running a web site whose mission includes making firm statements against the powerful and unprincipled. It’s a fairly obscure site, so I was probably never in any real danger — but during the height of Bushocracy, when “dissent is treason” seemed to be an obvious truth to way too many people, it often felt like quite a dangerous path to be pursuing.[ on the issue of helping whistleblowers ]I have tried several times to work out support systems for people who don’t fit into the mainstream, including people who are unemployable for political reasons. (I consider myself somewhat unemployable at this point, more because of the large gaps in my history than because of the incidents mentioned above… and also due to the time constraints of helping to raise an nonverbal autistic teen, but I expect that situation to be resolved within the foreseeable future.)If you’re interested, I can go into some ideas for how this might work in general or how it might benefit you specifically, but I should probably do so elsewhere.However, it sounds like you’re probably too angry and discouraged to be interested in anything that isn’t an immediate solution. I understand that feeling if it’s an accurate description of you right now, then I can only make sympathetic noises, because I don’t have any immediate solutions… just long-term ones and ideas which need to be worked through before anything can be done with them.This isn’t to say “keep swimming”, then, but “what can I do to help?”. My resources are limited — but somewhat nonstandard, as well.

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