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20/09/2015 | Pope Francis, please, a blessing for whistleblowers and other real human rights/rule of law advocates

Martin Edwin Andersen

His Holiness:

While visiting this week the world's longest-lasting democracy I humbly ask that you bestow a blessing on whistleblowers—ecumenical "bell ringers"—who, like those who tend to Church bells, set off alarms when danger threatens our communities.

 

In a world filled with discord, violence, and hate we remember the words of an American hero, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, who--in trying to reconcile the powers of modern government and society with opportunities of personal development and the maintenance of individual liberties--said bluntly, "Light is the best disinfectant."

In this country we pride ourselves on having democratic roots extending all the way to ancient Athens. Yet in Greece the “scapegoating" that was practiced was the casting of wrongdoers out of the community, just as the Bible tells us a goat was chosen and sent to die in the desert as part of the Day of Atonement.

The tragedy in the United States is that in government too often it is not criminals who are those cast aside, but rather those who speak truth to power; the wrongdoers hiding behind the cloaks of representatives of modern-day Caesars seemingly willing to wash their hands like bureaucratic Pontius Pilates.

Most Holy Father, when Jesus cleared the Temple of money changers, it is written that He did so by overturning their tables and even using a whip.  In reverence of His example we, the whistleblowers, although becoming battered sheep in the process, also seek to fight against fraud, corruption, lies, and other kinds of wrongdoing.

In following Caesar's law today, whistleblowers submit to earthly authority but render unto it the things that are the government's, while still holding fast to God's things. 

To do so, a good friend and fellow national security whistleblower, air marshal Robert MacLean, recently had to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, risking all before finally finding justice and vindication (135 U.S. 913 [2015]).

At the same time those who fight in uniform for this country were left without proper critical medical care supposedly guaranteed by our government in veterans' hospitals, until whistleblowers stepped forward to speak truth to power, despite reprisals against them.

Meanwhile, except for a few low-ranking soldiers brought to account for atrocious misconduct at places like the infamous Abu Graib facility, almost no one--and virtually none of the bureaucratic little Caesars--has been held accountable for the widespread use of tactics President Obama quickly outlawed as "torture" after campaigning against them while running the first time for president.

Although necessarily still shrouded in anonymity, women and men of our intelligence community (who serve—by obeying orders—their country, often at great personal risk) stepped up to tell Truth to power--setting the stage to rollback brutal rendition, detention and interrogation programs. They, too, risked paying, and probably paid, a price.

In particular those in the CIA's clandestine service (where celebrated light cannot always be used to disinfect) who risked their careers by lawfully opposing torture policies totally out of step with American values, are our sisters and brothers.  Please let President Obama know that, although he needs to keep their identities secure, he should also publicly underline how these secret whistleblowers protect the United States in the best way possible.

Too often moral illiteracy in Washington, His Holiness, does a lot of heavy lifting for fanatical groups at home and around the world, even as human rights and anti-corruption are two of the boldest banners held high by whistleblowers. If we know anything, as they found in Sparta and in ancient Rome, it is that bad government policies help create evil men.

Most Holy Father, although we are a small and still largely unprotected ecumenical group, we try to make a better world where we can. Please give us your blessing and bless those who are our champions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, whose colleagues most need to hear your clear and commanding voice when you speak before them.

In closing, a decorated member of the whistleblower community but speaking personally for a moment, let me just add that I have the honor to profess myself with the most profound respect.

As a reporter in Buenos Aires in 1987, I was thrilled to hear our Patriarch, Saint John Paul the Great, instruct the faithful, on the eve of another military rebellion by dirty warriors, "Never again!" 

Following the wisdom of my friend Penny Lernoux's Cry of the People, earlier I had suggested to Senator Edward M. Kennedy to honor Argentina's desaparecidos by offering homage to martyred Bishop Enrique Angelelli, a Servant of God, in La Rioja. 

I was also one of those who rushed to your public defense against the garrulous lap dogs who fraudulently refused to remember what you and the Society of Jesus did during that most difficult time. 

Please remember in your prayers we whistleblowers, our families, and those who have sought valiantly to protect and nourish us.

Your most humble servant.

Martin Edwin Andersen

**Andersen, a decorated national security whistleblower, is the author of three books on Latin America.

Offnews.info (Argentina)

 



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