Lifesavers or liars? News this week on tech, aviation, and war crimes whistleblowers

A selection of this week’s whistleblower news, including a harrowing tale of a group of war crimes whistleblowers.

Some of details of the case against Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, as reported in The New York Times Tuesday, may sound familiar to many whistleblowers. Here’s what reportedly occurred when Navy SEAL commandos reported their platoon chief had committed atrocities in Iraq.

(I)nstead of launching an investigation that day, the troop commander … warned the seven platoon members that speaking out could cost them and others their careers, according to the report.

 The Times story is based on a confidential Navy criminal investigation report obtained by the paper.

According to the investigation report, the troop commander, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, said in the meeting that while the SEALs were free to report the killings, the Navy might not look kindly on rank-and-file team members making allegations against a chief. Their careers could be sidetracked, he said, and their elite status revoked; referring to the eagle-and-trident badges worn by SEALs, he said the Navy “will pull your birds.”

More on the case at WBUR out of Boston. Gallagher’s supporters – including 40 lawmakers and Donald Trump–want him released from the Navy prison to home or another facility while awaiting trial. His family members say he is innocent.


Two women involved in a November protest at Google told co-workers that the company has struck back. In an email shared with Wired magazine, they said supervisors assigned them to new duties as punishment for the walkout. Google denied any retribution.

Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, who had protested over the company’s response to sexual harassment claims, wrote of a “culture of retaliation” at Google.

It’s often confusing and drawn out, consisting of icy conversations, gaslighting, project cancellations, transition rejections, or demotions. Behavior that tells someone the problem isn’t that they stood up to the company, it’s that they’re not good enough and don’t belong.

More from The Seattle Times.


Also in The New York Times, an investigation found evidence of problems at another Boeing plant in South Carolina.

The paper reported that the company ignored safety issues raised by employees.

On several planes, John Barnett, a former quality manager who worked at Boeing for nearly three decades and retired in 2017, discovered clusters of metal slivers hanging over the wiring that commands the flight controls. If the sharp metal pieces — produced when fasteners were fitted into nuts — penetrate the wires, he said, it could be “catastrophic.”

Mr. Barnett, who filed a whistle-blower complaint with regulators, said he had repeatedly urged his bosses to remove the shavings. But they refused and moved him to another part of the plant.

The company is already under fire for safety issues that emerging after two crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX airplane. The plant in question makes a different plane, the 787 Dreamliner.

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