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Monday, July 7, 2008

Whistleblowers' Voices Go Unheard

One of the most familiar refrains that schoolchildren learn is, "Crime doesn't pay."

Unfortunately, as we become adults, many of us learn that crime does pay. And Lindsay Beyerstein provides proof at her Majikthise blog.

Beyerstein is a reporter for Larisa Alexandrovna's team at Raw Story, and she references a report showing that the Bush Justice Department has a backlog of 900 qui tam cases. The report originated in the Washington Post and also drew the attention of reporter Nick Schwellenbach at The Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

Qui tam is a term used for cases involving whistleblowers who report on companies or institutions who are defrauding the government. Such cases often involve criminal activity, but they become civil cases as an incentive for whistleblowers to come forward. The whistleblower can be rewarded with a sizable chunk of proceeds that are recovered by the government.

Considering that the Bush Justice Department has shown its ineptness on the criminal side, we probably should not be surprised that the department cannot handle civil cases effectively either. One also has to wonder if these cases are allowed to wither because they target businesses (drug companies, etc.) and institutions that are favored entities in BushWorld.

Never mind that the public is cheated, and millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted.

Remember this term qui tam. We had a major qui tam case in Birmingham that was settled three years ago. The case received scant attention in the local press, and I have a feeling it was "settled" for an amount that was way below the actual amount of fraud.

This case has some interesting connections to recent events in our Legal Schnauzer tale, and we will be casting a critical eye toward the individuals and entities who quietly pulled off quite a "deal," one that might not have been in the public's interest.

Speaking of Beyerstein, her blog is an excellent resource for progressive news and commentary. And it also features very nice photography, including shots of our animal friends. As the proud "father" of two Siamese (or Tonkinese, we're not sure which) cats, just had to share this photo and this photo from Majikthise.

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