2011-01-24 Whistleblowing: Interview with EU lawyer Guido Strack

In an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau today, Guido Strack, EU lawyer and former official of the EU commission at Luxembourg, outlines some of the pitfalls of whistleblowing.

Responding to the question "Stehen Mitarbeiter, die Rechtsbrüche anprangern, am Ende oft alleine da?"(Current employees who stand up against violations of the law often stand alone; why is that?), Strack says:

Viele geben irgendwann auf. Es ist eine enorme Drucksituation. Man findet gravierende Verstöße und weiß, dass das dem Chef nicht passen wird. Was macht man damit? Entweder man geht in die innere Kündigung, geht weg oder man gibt einen Hinweis auf die Missstände. Oft werden diese Menschen dann als zu widerspenstig angesehen und von der Organisation ausgesiebt.

Some give up at some point. There is tremendous pressure in this situation. One finds serious failures and violations of the law and knows that the boss will not address the issues. What does one do in that situation? Either you resign and have nothing to do with the problem or you report the violation. However, the people who report the violations will be regarded as being insubordinate and blacklisted from other organizations.)

Strack expands on the plight of whistleblowers in reply to the question:"Warum sind die Sanktionen gegen Whistleblower oft so heftig?"(Why are the legal consequences / punishments enacted against whistleblowers often so draconian?)

Das Schlimmste, was einer Organisation passieren kann, ist nicht, dass jemand nicht mehr funktioniert. Dann wird er eben ausgetauscht. Das Schlimmste ist, wenn jemand die Organisation in Frage stellt, etwa die Rechtmäßigkeit ihres Handelns. Wer das wagt, muss abgestraft werden. Sichtbar muss an ihm ein Exempel statuiert werden, damit andere verstehen, dass sie dies auf keinen Fall tun dürfen.

(The worst that can happen to an organization is not that they lose a valuable employee; the employee can just be replaced. The worst is when someone questions the legality of the organization's actions. And whoever dares to question must be punished. Not only must they be punished but the whistleblower must be made an example. The more public, the better, to act as a warning to others who question the organization's actions.)

The full interview by Matthias Thieme can be found at Frankfurter Rundschau

Treatment on Bradley Manning

In order to understand the kind of treatment that Manning is undergoing you need to be not an American citizen nor a foreigner who has never lived in America, but you need to be a foreigner with an indepth experience of how it is to live in America. This way, if you are insightful, sensitive and intelligent, you will be able to measure the extent of cruelty and psychological torture that is being inflicted on Bradley.

When I was a foreign student in Oklahoma, I was part of the high school swimming team. Ultimately I was fed up with the atmosphere of the team, which was rudely impolite at competitions, boisterous, bully and they were always considering other teams from other high schools as true enemies, someone with whom you would not have to hang out with. They made of sport an act of war, win at whatever the cost, cheat the enemy while maintaining a tight mafia-like code within the team. So, I stopped going to work out, I could not participate of a way of doing sport which consisted in just about showing off, being scandalous and consideringso other teams as enemies. All teams were the same. I had swum in my country for 10 years, and competitions were a time to meet other people and make friends. Not in the US. The day after, 3 of them came to the library to "get me" because they would not tolerate that I missed a training day, I was obliged to them, and to the principles of the team. If I left the team, I was a traitor. One of them punched me in the stomach right in the library in front of all other students. In response I punched him in the nose and broke him the two front teeth. I had one month to finish my high school but for my own good, I was to be sent to another school. This time in Texas, Houston.

So I went to school, signed up to some classes, and I cant remember why, probably because I still did not have all my timetable complete and you were not allowed to have "dull hours" I ended up in .."The Army class". That is, these are ways for the Military to infiltrate themselves right at the root of the school. They are there to manipulate and brainwash the students. The map of the world at the class showed the Soviet Union as a black stain without any mark for cities or rivers or mountains, nothing but a black stain on the world map. The teacher, some Army soldier, was telling the American students about the power of the US army, the modernity of their weapons and how effective they were. They were instilling in those retarded, illiterate cowboy kids who had never left their villages and hanged out in the summer time with their leather boots smeared with shit horse on their heels, about the evil of communism. One of them learned that I was a foreigner, and he turned around to me and said "you are in the wrong class", to which I replied, you live in the wrong country.

So, within the army there is a code of "honor" which is a perversion of the concept of loyalty. They would never question whether they are part of an evil, murdering and terrorist organization called The Pentagon. From the psychological point of view, they incorporate in themselves the identity of the organization, meaning this, outsiders are enemies, insiders must cooperate and show blind loyalty, any other thing is pursued and punished to over the limits of cruelty. Therefore, I can perfectly visualize the cruelty and sadism that is being exerted upon Bradley. The soldiers at the prison enjoy a sort of rationalization of sadism, "you are going to pay for your treason bastard", "they will wake him every five minutes to prevent him from sleeping, they will psychologically undermine him, to nullify him, to destroy his will and even his instinct of survival. They are not keeping him alive for a trial, because that trial is a mockery run by bastard sadistic psychopaths. They are keeping him alive to torture him.

very good article

sounds like AA we need a kind of whistleblowers anonymous where people can go to get support.

it's obvious when you think about it. People like Bradley Manning needed to talk to someone like Adrian Lamo partly because he felt so much stress. The same applies to Rudolf Elmer who had to go to London in order to be part of a public hand over.

He too suffered from enormous stress.

There is a major problem with whistleblowers getting the support they need to cope with what they are doing.

If Bradley Manning and Rudolf Elmer could have found that support then maybe neither of them would be in jail and would not have had to go "public" themselves.

The same happened to a Nurse in the UK who decided to expose malpractices in a hospital where she worked. Her life was ruined.

An investigative journalist may suffer great stress but would hopefully get the support of the media organisation for whom they were working, Whistleblowers are not in that situation.

Mind you nobody public knows the identity of who leaked the Downing Street memos. I wonder if they too are suffering for having to keep all that to themselves.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer