does it happen in government? what about the “block” or “streets”? at you work? church? “playgrounds”? vacation spots? neighborhoods? who can whistleblow on who? in what situations? who is one going to to whistleblow? does that desicion on who you go to “mean” something”? what if one makes the wrong “authority” to whistleblow to? how is one suppose to whistle blow? when? who is taught to? how? if it is public knowledge on who to “whistleblow to ” couldn’t “others” watch and wait? how would one whistleblow in those circumstances? what if the whistleblowing is on a whole “system”?
how does a sociopathic society rebuild itself to block whistleblowing? gaslighting? narcisism? consumersim? propaganda warfare? if science is new at exploring these systems how would we find out ever… all the “systems”? p vrs np problem?
can you detect changes in networks with graph isomorphism? what about a 4d version of it?
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
what is faith(no proof) vrs science(human ordered proof) involvement on being able to whistleblow on systems? how? would art or math be enough? when do people hide evidence? or block expressed faith?
how do you “whistleblow” if you are poor? homeless? “lowerclass? reputationally destroyed? sick from abuse? in prison? enslaved in a “job” to pay debts?
are medical records, dna and health insurance being used agianst people to “review possible experiment canadites”?
is whistle blowing used agianst you by sociopaths before you could even try to? how would they do that? what “measures would they “setup”” to conceal tampering with systems built to “allow” whistleblowing? is that a common occurance in histories of civilizations? does the bible describe that?
how much unethical experimentation goes on in a country without any government knowledge?do experiments cross borders? are they international? is it easier to cover up unethical experimentation if its international? how would one whistleblow on international unethical human experimentation?
was the drug war an unethical human experiment? what are the lines between war and experiment? who would know? are churches or cults involved? religons? organizations? how would one find out? or whistleblow?
in a drug war do sides use drugs for different reasons agaisnt each other? how? how do you follow the money if it takes money to whistleblow? are some drugs used to “silence or incapacitate” subjects? is it effective? does it work on everyone?
are computers used by humans an experiment? if so who would be in charge of that experiment? who owns computers and what you do on them? how? what does law say? are governments able to keep up? how? when?
can one who is experimented on question the system that experimented on them? how would they whistleblow? to who?
if i cannot ask these “questions” of questioning money? would you? would you out of love? facing the whole world?
Stand up against abuse of power, abuse of process, abuse of trust, bullying, institutional racism, ethnocentrism, illegal discrimination, viewpoint discrimination, workplace mobbing, constructive discharge, wrongful termination, negligent supervision, blacklisting, blackballing, gang stalking/cause stalking, conspiracy against rights, abuse by proxy, defamation, eavesdropping, ambient abuse, eugenics, kangaroo courts, selective prosecution, malicious prosecution, vexatious litigation, dog whistle politics, harassment, gaslighting, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, administrative manipulation, undue influence, malicious compliance, fraud, cults, cult mind control, behavior modification, group narcissism, group think, statism, collectivism, authoritarianism, fascist Christianity (Dominionists), astroturf groups, front groups, bait and switch, false advertising, Peter Principle, homophobia, xenophobia, classism, pathological personality disorders (people of the lie), narcissistic personality disorder, socialized sociopaths, counseling malpractice, toxic parents, Machiavellianism, man-hating feminism, obscurantism, doublespeak, obfuscation, circumlocution, malarkey, loaded questions, thought-terminating cliches, pretexts, conflicts of interest, classism, and more!
do secret societies master the “arts” of pathology and use them “how” they will? is the antisocial network a evil secret society? or part of others?
why is there flouride in the water?
The US Continues to Evade the Mandates of Informed Consent
The issue of informed consent was central to the The Doctors Trials at Nuremberg, where twenty German doctors who experimented on Jews and others, often fatally, were tried and sentenced. What emerged from the Trials was the Nuremberg Code, which mandates that experimental subjects be given information about the nature of the experiment and the right to refuse.
The Nuremberg Code, however, remains a recommendation, not a law.
Some of these current experiments run by the United States are taking place within the borders of the US and some are taking place in foreign countries, with pharmaceutical and defense agencies as primary perpetrators.
As an act of apparent damage control following the 1994 disclosures of US radiation experiments during the Cold War, President Bill Clinton produced a memo, lodged in the Federal Register, calling for strengthened protections for human subjects.
These radiation experiments exposed US citizens to high levels of radiation, without informing them of the risks. According to reports, the radiation caused the deaths of a number of the experimental subjects.
Clinton subsequently established an Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments to review reports and recommend ways to prevent further unethical research from taking place in the future.
The Advisory Committee’s recommendations included mandating informed consent of all human subjects, among other recommendations. However, the Committee’s recommendations were never acted upon. And informed consent, which constitutes the core of the Nuremberg Code, was never codified into law.
Children as Lab Rats
On January 4, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, which provides incentives for using children in drug trials. The Act offered pharmaceutical companies a six-month exclusivity term in return for their agreement to conduct pediatric tests on drugs. This Act was quickly followed in 2003 by the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA). PREA authorizes FDA to require manufacturers of new drug and biologics products to conduct pediatric studies in certain circumstances.
As a result, drug trials on children have gone through the roof.
An article at medicalkidnap.com states that: “In 2006, they found that there were approximately 45,000 children participating in experiments.”
According to Victor Yeung, who is with the Centre for Paediatric Pharmacy Research, The School of Pharmacy, at the University of London, over 50% of medicines used on children are not licensed for use either for the stated disease or for the age group.
As it eventuates, the US government is playing fast and hard with informed consent where children are involved. On the surface, it appears that parents must provide consent for children to be enrolled in drug trials. As it plays out in the real world, however, this is not always the case. Parents are often not given adequate information as to the nature of the drug experiments. And in other cases, when the parents raise questions about their children’s medical care, they may find the children taken from them by Department of Children Services. In some cases, they may even have their parental rights terminated by a court.
In 2013, Justina Pelletier was removed from her parents after an emergency trip to the hospital. Justina, who suffers from a rare mitochondrial disease, was re-diagnosed by a new intern at Boston Hospital with “somatoform disorder,” after her parents took her to the Emergency Room with what appeared to be a bad case of the flu. The diagnosis of “somatoform disorder” is a psychiatric diagnosis, which essentially stated that Justina’s disease was “all in her head.” Her parents were unhappy with Boston Hospital’s treatment plan and also with their failure to even consult with her regular doctors and refused to sign off on BH’s treatment plan.
At that point, the hospital notified DCF (aka Child Protective Services) and the Pelletiers were effectively blocked from further unsupervised contact with their daughter. Justina was placed in a locked psychiatric unit and Lou Pelletier was charged with contempt of court for speaking about her circumstances to a Boston Globe reporter.
After an extended court battle and after her plight made national news, Justina was finally returned to her parents’ care. Concerns that she may have been used in experimental drug trials continue.
The Pelletiers are suing Boston Children’s Hospital.
A similar playbook was used against Melissa Diegel, an Arizona mother of two daughters also diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease. Diegel has now lost her parental rights after she questioned the treatment plan for her daughters, which was put into place by Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Translational Genomics Research Institute.
In court proceedings fraught with secrecy, removal of witnesses from the courtroom, sealed records and attempts to cast Diegel as someone who had “overmedicalized” her two daughters, Judge Kristin Hoffman severed all parental rights of Melissa Diegel and ordered the two girls to be put up for adoption.
As in the case of Justina Pelletier, where her parents were deemed unfit for following the recommendations of the primary physician and not honoring the diagnosis of a new doctor, the Diegel case reveals efforts by Child Protective Services to demonize Melissa Diegel for following one doctor’s recommendations for treatment for her two daughters, rather than following the recommendations of another doctor.
Melissa Diegel states that Hanna and Kayla were enrolled in TGen drug trials.
The willingness of courts to interfere with parental rights when the children in question can be used for drug trials reveals a systemic imperative wherein science will trump the welfare of individual children. At the center of such experimental imperatives lies organizations such as TGen.
Creating the “Perfect Spy”
Using children as lab rats is not the only human experimentation issue that has reared its head in recent years. Following the Congressional Church Hearings of the 1970s, the US government’s program to create the “perfect spy,” dubbed MKULTRA, was allegedly disbanded.
However, mind control experiments have continued, apparently unabated. After hearing testimony from a number of individuals alleging that they are being electronically harassed with mind-invasive technologies, the President’s Bioethics Commission issued a letter stating that it would not investigate such allegations. The letter states that:
We would like to clarify for your information that the Commission is not investigating or reviewing any concerns or complaints concerning complaints about…..MKULTRA; COINTELPRO; electromagnetic torture or attacks; organized stalking; remove influencing; microwave harassment; covert harassment and surveillance; human tracking; psychotromic (sic) or psychotropic weapons and radio frequency or military weapons or other claims.”
Recent articles at such mainstream media sources as businessinsider.com have confirmed the existence of such electromagnetic weaponry. Project Censored, which operates out of Sonoma State University in California, has published a report confirming the existence of neurobiological weapons, directed acoustic weapons, electromagnetic crowd control weapons, pulsed energy projectiles and neural implants, all of which mirror the concerns and testimony of thousands of US citizens who are now alleging that these weapons have been covertly and nonconsensually tested on them.
Justice is Elusive for Test Subjects
The US continues to hold itself up as the leader of the “free world,” even in the face of such abuses of its own citizenry. As the US refuses to honor what one spokesperson called “an ‘unaccountable’ World Court,” chances for those used as test subjects and denied their stated rights to informed consent in experiments to obtain justice remain slim. A lawsuit launched in 2009 on the behalf of military personnel used as chemical and biological test subjects by the US Army at Edgewood and Ft. Detrick military bases has resulted in a decision by a federal court judge that the Army should keep the subjects informed about “health information relating to their participation in chemical and biological tests spanning five decades.” No monetary damages were sought in the lawsuit. In light of the damage to the health of individuals who took part in the experiments – without adequate information as to what the experiments constituted – one might wonder if the best that can be obtained after a seven year court battle is an agreement to share such “health information” with the victims.
Tellingly, Bill Clinton’s memo of 1997 states the following:
This memorandum is not intended to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any other persons.
Writing for mindjustice.org, attorney Cheryl Welsh states that
…until a federal statute that secures the right of informed consent for anyone subjected to classified human experimentation is passed by the legislature and signed into law by the president, the U.S. government has the power to carry out research projects without his consent and without informing the participants of the dangers or future complications.
Any questions? Sadly, the US government won’t be answering them…for the time being, anyway.
Human radiation experiments
Researchers in the United States have performed thousands of human radiation experiments to determine the effects of atomic radiation and radioactive contamination on the human body. These were more often then not on people who were poor, sick, or powerless. Most of these tests were performed, funded, or supervised by the United States military, Atomic Energy Commission, or various other US federal government agencies.
The experiments included a wide array of studies, involving things like feeding radioactive food to mentally disabled children or conscientious objectors, inserting radium rods into the noses of schoolchildren, deliberately releasing radioactive chemicals over U.S. and Canadian cities, measuring the health effects of radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests, injecting pregnant women and babies with radioactive chemicals, and irradiating the testicles of prison inmates, amongst other things.
Much information about these programs was classified and kept secret. In 1986 the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a report entitled American Nuclear Guinea Pigs : Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens. In the 1990s Eileen Welsome’s reports on radiation testing for The Albuquerque Tribune prompted the creation of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments by executive order of president Bill Clinton, to monitor government tests. It published results in 1995. Welsome later wrote a book called The Plutonium Files.
Radioactive iodine experiments
In a 1949 operation called the “Green Run,” the AEC released iodine-131 and xenon-133 to the atmosphere near the Hanford site in Washington, which contaminated a 500,000-acre (2,000 km2) area containing three small towns.
In 1953, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) ran several studies at the University of Iowa on the health effects of radioactive iodine in newborns and pregnant women. In one study, researchers gave pregnant women from 100 to 200 microcuries (3.7 to 7.4 MBq) of iodine-131, in order to study the women’s aborted embryos in an attempt to discover at what stage, and to what extent, radioactive iodine crosses the placental barrier. In another study, they gave 25 newborn babies (who were under 36 hours old and weighed from 5.5 to 8.5 pounds (2.5 to 3.9 kg)) iodine-131, either by oral administration or through an injection, so that they could measure the amount of iodine in their thyroid glands, as iodine would go to that gland.
In another AEC study, researchers at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine fed iodine-131 to 28 healthy infants through a gastric tube to test the concentration of iodine in the infants’ thyroid glands.
In 1953, the AEC sponsored a study to discover if radioactive iodine affected premature babies differently from full-term babies. In the experiment, researchers from Harper Hospital in Detroit orally administered iodine-131 to 65 premature and full-term infants who weighed from 2.1 to 5.5 pounds (0.95 to 2.49 kg).
From 1955 to 1960, Sonoma State Hospital in northern California served as a permanent drop-off location for mentally handicapped children diagnosed with cerebral palsy or lesser disorders. The children subsequently underwent painful experimentation without adult consent. Many were given irradiated milk, some spinal taps “for which they received no direct benefit.” Reporters of 60 Minutes learned that in these five years, the brain of every cerebral palsy child who died at Sonoma State was removed and studied without parental consent. According to the CBS story, over 1,400 patients died at the clinic.
In an experiment in the 1960s, over 100 Alaskan citizens were continually exposed to radioactive iodine.
In 1962, the Hanford site again released I-131, stationing test subjects along its path to record its effect on them. The AEC also recruited Hanford volunteers to ingest milk contaminated with I-131 during this time.
“It is desired that no document be released which refers to experiments with humans and might have adverse effect on public opinion or result in legal suits. Documents covering such work should be classified `secret’.”
Between 1946 and 1947, researchers at the University of Rochester injected uranium-234 and uranium-235 in dosages ranging from 6.4 to 70.7 micrograms per kilogram of body weight into six people to study how much uranium their kidneys could tolerate before becoming damaged.
Between 1953 and 1957, at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. William Sweet injected eleven terminally ill, comatose and semi-comatose patients with uranium in an experiment to determine, among other things, its viability as a chemotherapy treatment against brain tumors, which all but one of the patients had (one being a mis-diagnosis). Dr. Sweet, who died in 2001, maintained that consent had been obtained from the patients and next of kin.
From April 10, 1945 to July 18, 1947, eighteen people were injected with plutonium as part of the Manhattan Project. Doses administered ranged from 95 to 5,900 nanocuries.
Albert Stevens, a man misdiagnosed with stomach cancer, received “treatment” for his “cancer” at the U.C. San Francisco Medical Center in 1945. Dr. Joseph Gilbert Hamilton, a Manhattan Project doctor in charge of the human experiments in California had Stevens injected with Pu-238 and Pu-239 without informed consent. Stevens never had cancer; a surgery to remove cancerous cells was highly successful in removing the benign tumor, and he lived for another 20 years with the injected plutonium. Since Stevens received the highly radioactive Pu-238, his accumulated dose over his remaining life was higher than anyone has ever received: 64 Sv (6400 rem). Neither Albert Stevens nor any of his relatives were told that he never had cancer; they were led to believe that the experimental “treatment” has worked. His cremated remains were surreptitiously acquired by Argonne National Laboratory Center for Human Radiobiology in 1975 without the consent of surviving relatives. Some of the ashes were transferred to the National Human Radiobiology Tissue Repository at Washington State University, which keeps the remains of people who died having radioisotopes in their body.
Three patients at Billings Hospital at the University of Chicago were injected with plutonium. In 1946, six employees of a Chicago metallurgical lab were given water that was contaminated with plutonium-239, so that researchers could study how plutonium is absorbed into the digestive tract.
An eighteen-year-old woman at an upstate New York hospital, expecting to be treated for a pituitary gland disorder, was injected with plutonium.
Experiments involving other radioactive materials
Immediately after World War II, researchers at Vanderbilt University gave 829 pregnant mothers in Tennessee what they were told were “vitamin drinks” that would improve the health of their babies. The mixtures contained radioactive iron and the researchers were determining how fast the radioisotope crossed into the placenta. At least three children are known to have died from the experiments, from cancers and leukemia. Four of the women’s babies died from cancers as a result of the experiments, and the women experienced rashes, bruises, anemia, hair/tooth loss, and cancer.
From 1946 to 1953, at the Walter E. Fernald State School in Massachusetts, in an experiment sponsored by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the Quaker Oats corporation, 73 mentally disabled children were fed oatmeal containing radioactive calcium and other radioisotopes, in order to track “how nutrients were digested“. The children were not told that they were being fed radioactive chemicals; they were told by hospital staff and researchers that they were joining a “science club”.
The University of California Hospital in San Francisco exposed 29 patients, some with rheumatoid arthritis, to total body irradiation (100-300 rad dose) to obtain data for the military.
In the 1950s, researchers at the Medical College of Virginia performed experiments on severe burn victims, most of them poor and black, without their knowledge or consent, with funding from the Army and in collaboration with the AEC. In the experiments, the subjects were exposed to additional burning, experimental antibiotic treatment, and injections of radioactive isotopes. The amount of radioactive phosphorus-32 injected into some of the patients, 500 microcuries (19 MBq), was 50 times the “acceptable” dose for a healthy individual; for people with severe burns, this likely led to significantly increased death rates.
Between 1948 and 1954, funded by the federal government, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Hospital inserted radium rods into the noses of 582 Baltimore, Maryland schoolchildren as an alternative to adenoidectomy. Similar experiments were performed on over 7,000 U.S. Army and Navy personnel during World War II. Nasal radium irradiation became a standard medical treatment and was used in over two and a half million Americans.
In 1951 at Johns Hopkins, Henrietta Lacks had been treated with a radium rod in her cervix, and 2 radium plaques placed on her skin, for a cervical tumor.
In another study at the Walter E. Fernald State School, in 1956, researchers gave mentally disabled children radioactive calcium orally and intravenously. They also injected radioactive chemicals into malnourished babies and then pushed needles through their skulls, into their brains, through their necks, and into their spines to collect cerebrospinal fluid for analysis.
In 1961 and 1962, ten Utah State Prison inmates had blood samples taken which were mixed with radioactive chemicals and reinjected back into their bodies.
The Atomic Energy Commission funded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to administer radium-224 and thorium-234 to 20 people between 1961 and 1965. Many were chosen from the Age Center of New England and had volunteered for “research projects on aging”. Doses were 0.2–2.4 microcuries (7.4–88.8 kBq) for radium and 1.2–120 microcuries (44–4,440 kBq) for thorium.
In a 1967 study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, pregnant women were injected with radioactive cortisol to see if it would cross the placental barrier and affect the fetuses.
In 1957, atmospheric nuclear explosions in Nevada, which were part of Operation Plumbbob were later determined to have released enough radiation to have caused from 11,000 to 212,000 excess cases of thyroid cancer among U.S. citizens who were exposed to fallout from the explosions, leading to between 1,100 and 21,000 deaths.
Early in the Cold War, in studies known as Project GABRIEL and Project SUNSHINE, researchers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia tried to determine how much nuclear fallout would be required to make the Earth uninhabitable. They realized that atmospheric nuclear testing had provided them an opportunity to investigate this. Such tests had dispersed radioactive contamination worldwide, and examination of human bodies could reveal how readily it was taken up and hence how much damage it caused. Of particular interest was strontium-90 in the bones. Infants were the primary focus, as they would have had a full opportunity to absorb the new contaminants. As a result of this conclusion, researchers began a program to collect human bodies and bones from all over the world, with a particular focus on infants. The bones were cremated and the ashes analyzed for radioisotopes. This project was kept secret primarily because it would be a public relations disaster; as a result parents and family were not told what was being done with the body parts of their relatives.
Between 1960 and 1971, the Department of Defense funded non-consensual whole body radiation experiments on poor, black cancer patients, who were not told what was being done to them. Patients were told that they were receiving a “treatment” that might cure their cancer, but the Pentagon was trying to determine the effects of high levels of radiation on the human body. One of the doctors involved in the experiments, Robert Stone, was worried about litigation by the patients. He referred to them only by their initials on the medical reports. He did this so that, in his words, “there will be no means by which the patients can ever connect themselves up with the report”, in order to prevent “either adverse publicity or litigation”.
From 1960 to 1971, Dr. Eugene Saenger, funded by the Defense Atomic Support Agency, performed whole body radiation experiments on more than 90 poor, black, terminally ill cancer patients with inoperable tumors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He forged consent forms, and did not inform the patients of the risks of irradiation. The patients were given 100 or more rads (1 Gy) of whole-body radiation, which in many caused intense pain and vomiting. Critics have questioned the medical rationale for this study, and contend that the main purpose of the research was to study the acute effects of radiation exposure.
From 1963 to 1973, a leading endocrinologist, Dr. Carl Heller, irradiated the testicles of Oregon and Washington prisoners. In return for their participation, he gave them $5 a month, and $100 when they had to receive a vasectomy upon conclusion of the trial. The surgeon who sterilized the men said that it was necessary to “keep from contaminating the general population with radiation-induced mutants”. Dr. Joseph Hamilton, one of the researchers who had worked with Heller on the experiments, said that the experiments “had a little of the Buchenwald touch”.
In 1963, University of Washington researchers irradiated the testes of 232 prisoners to determine the effects of radiation on testicular function. When these inmates later left prison and had children, at least four of them had offspring born with birth defects. The exact number is unknown because researchers never followed up on the status of the subjects.
Wikipedia (2014). Unethical human experimentation in the United States. [online] Available from: Codehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentation_in_the_United_States [Accessed 22nd October 2014]
It appears that the majority of personnel, regardless of whether they are managers or not, have
witnessed some sort of wrongdoing in the workplace (Keenan 1988b). Most such incidents are not
reported. A few research studies have examined factors affecting the decision of an observer to
report wrongdoing. Ignoring wrongdoing is an expected response since ignoring observed
organizational problems is the standard or norm.
Government Ethics Cases
Whistleblowing: An Ethical Issue in Organizational and Human Behavior
Ethical Dimensions of Social Work Whistleblowing
According to George Kerevan, “Word of the Week” columnist for The Scotsman, “The etymological origins of whistle blowing are gloriously obscure.” Yet even without knowing the term’s pedigree, we get a vivid picture from the words themselves. Kerevan suggests the obvious one—a police officer shrilling on a whistle when he or she catches a crime in progress.
Whistle blowing means calling attention to wrongdoing that is occurring within an organization. The Government Accountability Project lists four ways to blow the whistle:
- reporting wrongdoing or a violation of the law to the proper authorities.
- such as a supervisor, a hotline or an Inspector General
- refusing to participate in workplace wrongdoing
- testifying in a legal proceeding
- leaking evidence of wrongdoing to the media
Of course, whistle blowing goes on in the private sector, where some of the most famous figures include former Enron Vice President Sherron Watkins and tobacco executive Jeffrey Wigand. But because government, by its very nature, is supposed to be open and transparent, full disclosure of unethical or illegal behavior in the public sphere is particularly important. Not all of the problems in the public sphere are, however, generated within the government organization; outside vendors, contractors, and individuals can participate in and even breed government corruption.
A whistle blower once testified in a California court about how his boss had regularly ordered him to discard some of the company’s toxic waste into a local storm drain rather than dispose of it properly. Why, the judge wanted to know, had the man finally decided to step forward after having participated in this illegal dumping for years. “Well,” the man explained, “I was fishing with my grandson, and it suddenly occurred to me that the waste I was dumping was going to pollute the water so that he might never be able to go fishing with his grandson.”
Whistle blowing has to do with ethics because it represents a person’s understanding, at a deep level, that an action his or her organization is taking is harmful—that it interferes with people’s rights or is unfair or detracts from the common good. Whistle blowing also calls upon the virtues, especially courage, as standing up for principles can be a punishing experience. Even though laws are supposed to protect whistle blowers from retaliation, people who feel threatened by the revelations can ostracize the whistle blower, marginalizing or even forcing him or her out of public office. On the other hand, there have been occasions when the role of whistle blower has actually catapulted people into higher office and has earned the respect of constituents. (eg?)
In an article about whistle blowing in a business context , Lilanthi Ravishankar makes a useful distinction between external and internal whistle blowing. She argues that companies should encourage internal whistle blowing so that problems are solved within the organization before employees feel they must go outside to get action. The same is true for government bodies, which need to know about problems early—before illegal contracts must be renegotiated or aquifers have been polluted or the public’s money has been squandered or unethical behavior has become front-page news.
She makes several suggestions about how to encourage internal whistle blowing in companies. We repeat some of them here, with slight modifications for a government context:
- Create a policy about reporting illegal or unethical practices, which should include:
- Formal mechanisms for reporting violations, such as hotlines and mailboxesÿ
- Clear communications about the process of voicing concerns, such as a specific chain of command, or the identification of a specific person to handle complaints
- Clear communications about bans on retaliation
- Get endorsement of the policy from top officials—mayor, manager, councilmembers, boards—and publicize the organization’s commitment to the process. Elected and administrative leadership must encourage ethical behavior and hold everyone within the organization to the highest standards, including the disclosure of activities that would have a negative impact on the public’s business.
- Investigate and follow up promptly on all allegations of misconduct. Report on these investigations to the council or board.
When a person encounters wrongdoing in the public sphere, his or her first step should probably be to use the organization’s internal whistle blowing mechanisms. William Black, professor of law and economics at University of Missouri-Kansas City, was himself a whistle blower when he worked as a Savings and Loan regulator in the 1980s. During a term as visiting scholar at the Ethics Center, he wrote about his experience:
Whistle blowers in the public sector often face the unique problem that their disclosure may constitute a crime. This can create an ethical dilemma when the ongoing misconduct is severe and there is no reasonable prospect that the abuse will end absent blowing the whistle….I would still recommend trying to get the responsible organs (e.g., your agency’s/department’s congressional oversight committees and/or inspector general) to take action first unless the threat to public safety was imminent.
All government bodies should have fairly straightforward lines of authority. For example, if a councilperson has a problem with city staff, he or she would go to the city manager. If an employee of the water district sees wrongdoing, he or she would start with a supervisor and move up the chain of command, and so forth. It’s always best to start with the mechanisms the organization has set up to deal with problems because these represent the best chance at an amicable solution.
If this process does not produce results, however, it’s not enough to say, “Well, I did my best.” If wrongdoing is not being addressed within the organization, it may be time to move outside—to the district attorney, the grand jury, or to the press.
Kirk Hanson, Ethics Center executive director, and Jerry Ceppos, former vice president/news, Knight-Ridder, have written on the ethics of leaking information to the press and suggest these considerations:
The first thing a potential leaker should ask is the status of the information itself. Is the information “classified,” “proprietary,” or otherwise “protected?” Is there a system in place which clearly considers this information restricted? If the information is clearly intended to be protected, then the leaker must meet a stiff test if he or she wants to leak it.
The second consideration is whether the potential leaker has a specific obligation, legal or ethical, to protect the information, or has the information only because another person violated his or her obligation to keep it secret. If so, then it is a much more serious matter to reveal it.
The third consideration is whether the information is about public or private matters. Information about another’s sexual orientation, about his or her private finances, or about personal phone calls has more of a claim to privacy than information about a person’s actions as a corporate executive or a government official. The difficult cases, of course, are those where the private life of individuals arguably influences their public actions.
Hanson and Ceppos also argue that potential leakers must assess the good and harm their leak may do. When lives are at stake or millions of public dollars are being misappropriated, those concerns for the public good trump the harm to personal privacy or government secrecy.
On the other hand, a leaker must determine if the conduct he or she is exposing represents actual wrongdoing or if it is simply represents a policy disagreement. Of course, much of the public’s business should be debated in public, and speaking up about disagreements on most issues is not only acceptable but also desirable. Closed-door sessions, however, are secret for a reason. Revelations about a city’s interest in a particular piece of property may boost the price of that parcel. Exposure of sensitive information about a hiring or firing decision may needlessly cause harm to an individual. As much as council or board members’ views may differ on these issues, they should remain secret if the problem does not rise to the level of misconduct.
Regrettably, whistleblowing is still necessary in
today’s health care environment — one that is
weighed down with fraud, incompetent practitioners,
and patient safety issues. It is an action seen in movies
and heard about in organizations, yet distant from
nursing. Nurses are left with a question, “Could I stand
up for what is right like that courageous person?” The
focus of this article is to provide ethical justifications
for the action of whistleblowing as well as information
on legal protections and ways to reduce the risks and
negative consequences often experienced by the
A Guide for Moral Decision Making
1. What are the moral dimension(s)?
2. Who are the interested parties? What are their
3. What values are involved?
4. What are the benefits and burdens that need to be
5. Are there any analogous cases?
6. Who are relevant others with whom you could discuss
7. Does the decision accord with legal and organizational
8. Am I comfortable with the decision?
Source: MacDonald, 2002.
1. If I carry out this decision, would I be comfortable
telling my family about it?
2. Would I want my children to take my behavior as an
3. Is this decision one which a wise, informed, virtuous
person would make?
4. Can I live with my decision?
Black, White, and Many Shades of Gray
Of course, not every action is worthy of whistleblowing in the first place. “Few actions are always appropriate to report, and the duty to blow the whistle on a colleague or institution is highly context dependent,” says Dominic A. Sisti, PhD, director of The Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Healthcare in the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “A basic question should be: Are clients/patients being seriously harmed? If the answer is yes, social workers have an ethical duty to disclose the harm, even if that means implicating a colleague’s misconduct, negligence, impairment, or incompetence.”
The issue of whether to blow the whistle is rarely black and white, Reamer adds. In fact, he says most whistleblowing situations fall into one of “many shades of gray.” Once in a while there may be a no-brainer, such as a social worker engaging in sexual misconduct with a client, but it’s quite often that the wrongdoing falls into a gray area, he says.
While social workers may find it easier to blow the whistle in black and white cases, they also need to learn when and how to blow the whistle when the misconduct is not easily defined. Reamer believes that an effort to understand when to report misconduct should be incorporated into social work education. “If we’re going to enhance the quality of education in academia and in continuing education, then we need to share with students and social workers some good case studies that pose very difficult choices on whistleblowing,” Reamer says. “Then we need to share the conceptual framework that includes standards in the current Code of Ethics regarding disclosure of ethical misconduct as well as frameworks developed by ethicists to help practitioners make difficult decisions regarding whistleblowing.”
Reamer teaches the following key points that should be considered before the whistle is even blown:
• Severity: Factor in the severity of the harm and the misconduct. Circumstances that involve severe harm are more compelling than those that do not.
• Quality of the evidence: If there is no strong or compelling evidence of wrongdoing, employees may want to postpone blowing the whistle.
• Impact: Consider the potential impact that whistleblowing will have on colleagues, employers, or even one’s career. This is not a reason to avoid blowing the whistle but definitely something to consider before doing so—even just to be prepared for the consequences.
• Your motivation: Whistleblowers must consider the motivation for blowing the whistle. Do they truly believe they have a moral obligation to report this or is the whistleblowing motivated by self-interest, such as being angry with someone and seeking retaliation?
• Viability of reasonable alternatives: Before employees go full force with whistleblowing, they should think about whether there’s a way to address the issues in a quieter and more constructive way. Are these alternatives reasonable and feasible?
In questioning motives, it’s also important to consider why someone may not address the wrongdoing directly with the person who committed it. “If you think a colleague is doing something wrong, why wouldn’t you talk to them about it first?” Gebler asks. “Your answer to that question may reveal your true motives. While it takes guts, often the best first step is to tell the person what you believe you witnessed. There are always ways to frame it, such as ‘David, you’re new so you may not know that you filled out that form incorrectly.’ In this way you create a dialogue rather than going directly into reporting mode.”
Reamer says the Code of Ethics addresses this in standard 2.11c: “Social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should seek resolution by discussing their concerns with the colleague when feasible and when such discussion is likely to be productive.”
Of course, addressing the employee is not always a reasonable course of action or may not ultimately be productive. Standard 2.11d goes on to say, “When necessary, social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should take action through appropriate formal channels [such as contacting a state licensing board or regulatory body, a NASW committee on inquiry, or other professional ethics committees].”
As social workers make the final decision whether to blow the whistle, it’s advised that legal counsel first should be sought in any case where criminal activity has taken place or there is a strong possibility of some form of retribution. Though there’s still a long way to go in educating social workers on whistleblowing, in general, it does seem that it’s being given more attention. That also helps ensure the whistleblower has a safe environment to come forward and report wrongdoing. “In general, I do believe we have a greater awareness of the need for whistleblower protections, so I think that workplaces address this better, as do many state and federal laws,” Lukens says.
“As with so many difficult ethical decisions, whistleblowing decisions often reduce to a matter of conscience,” Reamer adds. “There are no simple formulas that social workers can use to determine what they ought to do. The answer is often a product of extraordinarily difficult reflection and soul searching. Still, more education on the issue is at least likely to make that process better defined.”
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