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Would You Whistle Blow? (Serious Replies)

Mark Felt
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 05, 2012
Posts: 14
I know this is a "meaningless drivel" forum, but there is a reason that I am posting with programmers. I may need some help.

You do realize that with something serious you face serious risks. I have a family, a wife and young children. I am an academic in a foreign country. I am in a country where speech is not protected; reputation is, even false reputation.

I have spoken to other academics who say let it go. The academics were at arguably the most famous university in the world, where I was attending grad school and am a graduate of the other most arguably famous university in the world. The only thing that has kept me out of prison is that I am in a country where academic credentials determine your identity.

The mods could verify that by my IP address and might be able to make a few other guesses about me. I have something serious. I have been threatened with prison. I realize that you might want to try out witticisms (that quite frankly, even if the question were hypothetical or didn't involve me are not that funny), but I've lived in fear for the past year.
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30537
    
150

This was moved to job discussion since it isn't meaningless. You'll get more serious replies in here.

I live in the United States so I'm not familiar with the feeling in your country. Are you able to use a computer anonymously at a library? Or use a VPN to be anonymous? Or report the issue in writing on a piece of paper?

I don't know what I would do. It's hard to imagine.


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Allain Walker
Greenhorn

Joined: May 24, 2005
Posts: 14
I have to say that you have been given advice by the people that you know and trust and you still don't really know what to do, I would certainly vote for keeping your mouth shut until you are in a position to have a free and frank discussion about your situation, while still trying to gather evidence to show the issue to the world.

A few of things spring to mind
If your liberty is really under threat do you really want to be there in the first place?
If you think your family may be under threat then doubly so for the above.
Remember that there are services like Wikileaks that may be able to help in these scenarios.
Aside from all of that you have to question if your exposing the truth would do any good.

At the end of the day if I have a decision to make and I really don't know what to do, I flip a coin and it becomes apparent immediately f I can live with the result or not.

5 years on and still a Greenhorn, what to do, what to do?
Mark Felt
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 05, 2012
Posts: 14
As you can imagine, Mark Felt is not my real name. I think that my need for anonymity in this matter outweighs any perceived violation in the TOS. (I am a real member on this board under my real name. I have not, however, posted here in some time.) I cannot post from a library or other computer because they will ask for my registration card. I hope this thread will get deleted shortly.

I realize that I will need to provide some details, but I hope not to provide any definitively identifying information that can be used against me. There are very strict laws here regarding publishing information. From what I understand, their jurisdiction does not extend outside their borders because I am not a citizen. If I leave for another country, I might not be allowed back, and I would be separated from my family. About a year ago, I thought about running but my wife was pregnant, and I would never leave my children. Also, the president of the university, whom I reported directly to before I was fired, affixed his personal stamp to seek my criminal prosecution. They could have blocked me at any point of departure. I violated the law by hiding in one of the largest cities in the world without reporting my address to immigration.

While I worked at the university, I uncovered academic fraud, forgery, abuse of students, misuse of public funds, fraud upon fraud upon fraud. Apparently, I also stepped on some personal relationships in reporting these abuses. The university president's actions after I reported to him implicated him in fraud and, if this country has such a thing, racketeering. The country is not far outside of a military dictatorship, and anyone in any position of power grew up under, what was in all but name, a military dictatorship. The country has a strict sense of hierarchy in every aspect of society, and one does not question a superior or have the need to answer a subordinate. The university president has a "relationship" with the country's president.

Although they have since reiterated the threat of criminal prosecution, I believe that the names on my academic credentials have kept them from going through. My arrest would be a story in the US. Also, I have hundreds of documents that print to thousands of pages of fraud.

The language differences make communication very difficult, and I have not met anyone here who is truly bilingual. I am virtually convinced that it's not possible. I have no way to convey any of this information to anyone here who is not in a position to squelch or pass on the information.

I suppose that all countries are to some degree xenophobic (I am offering that sop because I don't want to derail into that discussion), but I am in one of the most xenophobic countries on earth. The corruption in their institutions in general and education institutions specifically is their dirty little secret. The natives whisper it among themselves. Media outlets do not like to embarrass the country. The natives' mentality seems to be to ignore, deny, turn away until the tipping point and then to respond massively.

The academic fraud extended to universities in the U.S. and an American accrediting agency. The American universities don't know that transcripts were falsified. FERPA and privacy in the U.S. prevent the universities from disclosing any information about students, and the laws here prevent me from sending information electronically regardless of whether the information is true. Laws here protect reputation not speech; in other words, truth is not a defense. Also, if I am seen to have a personal axe to grind, then I am more so liable.

The American accrediting agency I can argue is little more than an accreditation mill. I initially reported, which I see as a huge mistake, to them. I had thought that they were governmental or quasi governmental, but the relationship between the university and the accrediting agency seems more like that between Enron and Arthur Anderson. They seem more interested in protecting their fees and international travel perks.

I spent the first year in fear with sleepless nights. They evicted my family from our campus apartment, withheld my pay, pension, income tax refund, severance, certificate of employment, letter of termination, and blackballed me. I've wasted more time, money, and life force on trying to stay within their legal framework and keeping all to myself. Now I don't sleep at night because it eats at me. I only told my family (mother, brother, sisters) last week. They are unanimous: keep it to yourself.

I don't think that I can. It is ruining my health. I think that I might be looking at a year if I go public.
Mark Felt
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 05, 2012
Posts: 14

I suppose that I really don't stand a chance.

I followed the Penn State scandal intensely. The way that I understand it is that Mike McQueary in 2002 (at the time a lowly graduate assistant at Penn State's vaunted football program) saw what appeared to be the defensive coordinator anally raping a 10 year old boy. The then 26 year old man went for advice to his father who told him to tell Joe Paterno, perhaps the most recognized and revered person not only at Penn State but also in American university athletics if not American universities.

According to testimony, McQueary, in deference to the esteem (in all actuality, awe) in which he held Joe Paterno and Joe Paterno's age, did not convey the severity of what he had witnessed. Paterno reported to the (nominally on the chain of command Paterno's boss, in reality no one was higher than Joe Paterno) Athletic Director, who then went to the University Vice President. The matter then dropped.

Last October, the matter resurfaced, intense attention was brought, and Penn State's board of trustees did a Friday night massacre. McQueary, who was not charged or fired, went into hiding because anonymous people thought that he had not done enough and he had received threats against his person. He had not blown the whistle loud or long enough.

My initial reaction and that of everyone in America was that McQueary was a coward and had not done enough. Americans got their cowboy and bluster on and topped each other with detailed descriptions of what they would have done. The man was vilified and I'm sure is a pariah and unemployable. It's easy as a done deal when it's in the the past tense and the discussion is hypothetical, but when it's real everyone I turn to says "your first responsibility is to your family" and "let it go, forget what they owe you, keep your mouth shut." (A friend, the only non-immediate family I have told, from undergraduate years told me that he'd pay me what the university owes me. He's a licensed, career academic.) None disputes the claims and evidence, which is jaw-dropping.

By the TOS and by my own admission, I'm the only one here who has some degree of anonymity, but this is a bit too real in the sense of liability for anyone to answer. I suppose there will be a lot of "you got to follow your conscience" and "do what you think is the right thing for you, your family, and the situation" if any answers at all.

How are any of us different from Mike McQueary?
Allain Walker
Greenhorn

Joined: May 24, 2005
Posts: 14
It is easy to say what I would do in a situation, it is easy to get on your horse and bluster, but the real difficulty is to live every day with what you could have done.

It is easy for me to sit here and say that you should damn it all an blow that damn whistle.

Is is also easy for me to say the contrary.

In the end what are you asking for?

Are you asking for some-one to tell you to do it? or not? or are you just trying to reach out and tell people that you are in an awful place.

One of the questions I asked before comes to my mind again.

Why are you there? You have family, you have education, I assume that you have liberty to move and change what you are doing. Move and get your family out later or the other way round if you need to.

If you cannot fix the situation then either ignore it or leave it.

Change what you can and live with what you can't.

If all none of there suggestions make sense to you then at least bide your time, things do change, if the Arab Spring has taught me anything it is that things will change and when you least expect them to.

Good luck
Mark Felt
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 05, 2012
Posts: 14
Please excuse what seems like paranoia, but if they are monitoring this board, then they can figure out that it's me. As I said, I used to post here, and all they would have to do is a google search on my nearly unique surname. There are some peculiarities about this country that anyone familiar with the country should be able to guess. (For any reader who can guess the country, please keep it to yourself. Please don't hypothesize or otherwise discuss.)

About getting the flock outta here, when they evicted me, I had a pre-toddler son and a pregnant wife. We lost all our personal belongs. I needed to rent an apartment subito if not sooner in one of the most expensive and overpopulated cities in the world. The rental system here is much different from in the west. Here, you put a large down payment on the apartment, but you don't pay rent (lessees live off the interest). In effect, I bought an apartment for two years. Also, when you rent an apartment, you literally rent the walls. There are no closets, appliances, fixtures (beyond a commode and kitchen sink). My wife is not a US citizen (and is in fact a citizen of this country), did not have an immigration visa, was pregnant, and we had no place or insurance in the US. If they had in fact filed charges against me, I would have been blocked at the airport. We were stuck here. In the US, I have no house, no job, no car, no furniture. I will leave well over six figures behind. Airfare alone will cost me $10,000.

You are right. I do want something. Last year, I did tell someone else, a professor at my graduate school. He advised the same ("Get the fuck out of there."). Amazingly, he also suggests that I drop it. Tomorrow is my daughter's first birthday. I have laid low for the past year.

Remember that the law, in fact the constitution, protects reputation (as if that does not give away where I am). Foreigners are beaten over the head with these laws daily. Blowing a whistle here does no good; the language differences block communication to people in this country, who though good are xenophobic and through ignorance suspicious of foreigners.

The gist of my story is not unique among the foreign academics at many (most? nearly all??) universities and academic institutions at all levels. Many native professors can tell similar stories, but they ignore and accept the situation as part of and their place in the culture. What makes my story different is the access to the university president, witnessed presentations, amount of documentation, and quite frankly my academic affiliations.

Also, I'm sticking with it. This place is corrupt, but there are several American institutions who have their hands over their ears and babbling "blah, blah, blah, blah". They, particularly a U.S. accrediting agency and an affiliated American business, know or they should have known.

In the coming weeks, I will send emails to the presidents of several American universities. I will send the emails of the threat of prosecution and the agendas to my meetings with the president of the university. The agendas have certain buzz words that are unmistakable red flags. What do you think their initial response or lack thereof will be?

But you are right, I do want something here.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1713
    
  14

What do you honestly think will happen if you go ahead and blow the whistle?

From your description, it sounds like you are up against some very powerful interests who will be quite happy to crush you if you offend them. Even in Western democracies, whistle-blowers often suffer financially and in terms of their careers, even if they are not usually thrown in jail, and it sounds like the country you're in is a far harsher place for dissidents.

So do you think things will change and you will be recognised as a public-spirited citizen for your efforts? Or do you think they will simply suppress your claims and punish you and your family, while your colleagues and neighbours look the other way for fear of suffering the same treatment?

Obviously I have no idea what your situation is really like, and I guess I'm a coward about these things, but it sounds to me like your professor is right: Stay quiet, get the f*** out of there, and blow the whistle once you and your family are at a safe distance.

Anyway, whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck.


No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18570
    
    8

Mark Felt wrote:As you can imagine, Mark Felt is not my real name. I think that my need for anonymity in this matter outweighs any perceived violation in the TOS.


Of course, absolutely. But the fact that you chose that particular name suggests that at some level you think, or hope, that you too could blow the whistle and remain undetected for 30 years.

However everything else you have written points in the opposite direction. So your conscious analysis of the situation conflicts with your subconscious desires -- which is why you started this thread. My preference is to go with conscious analysis whenever possible, provided there's enough data to support the analysis. It's not always easy to tell that in this sort of environment, but I strongly suspect I would shut up if I were in your place.
Luke Kolin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Mark Felt wrote:In the coming weeks, I will send emails to the presidents of several American universities. I will send the emails of the threat of prosecution and the agendas to my meetings with the president of the university. The agendas have certain buzz words that are unmistakable red flags. What do you think their initial response or lack thereof will be?


Probably none. I still don't know what the issue at hand is, but they're more than likely to think you are crazy. Leave your country first, then worry about your crusade.

Luke
Mark Felt
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 05, 2012
Posts: 14
I have not had time to post since this thread got deleted by a mod and then restored. Along with a serious problem, I have other responsibilities as a father, husband, and family man.

I hope that people see something here. In a previous post, I expressed sympathy (yes, sympathy!) for Mike McCreary. Initially, I thought to vilify him (and actually, I still do. I have the moral high ground here in that I took and am taking personal risks for a much greater good where I have no personal gain.), but I see that those (individuals and institutions) who would blame him for not doing more would not support him.

Even here, in an anonymous forum where I have freely admitted I created a user name, I could get some understanding for my situation. Initially, I had hoped that my user name would signal that I used a pseudonym. (I had tried Alan Smithee, which was taken, and considered George Spelvin, which I thought would be too arcane.)

I know that mods don't like to be taken to task at JR, but this thread disappeared for a brief time.
Subject: deleted your thread
I hope this thread will get deleted shortly.

A forum is about public sharing of information. If you are going to ask for it to be deleted after people put their time into useful answers, I'd rather oblige and delete it ASAP. I will restore it if you aren't going to ask for it to be deleted.

The concern here is for the sanctity of the forum, but I had already conceded to any potential posters that I wanted to have the thread deleted and implied for my safety.
As you can imagine, Mark Felt is not my real name. I think that my need for anonymity in this matter outweighs any perceived violation in the TOS. (I am a real member on this board under my real name. I have not, however, posted here in some time.) I cannot post from a library or other computer because they will ask for my registration card. I hope this thread will get deleted shortly.

Logically, any poster had been made aware that my safety might outweigh the need for their posts to exist in perpetuity, and by posting they had signed onto that agreement. I still believe that the potential hazard to my safety outweighs any slight to the ideals of "forum", but now I have signed onto your agreement. I still request that posters not speculate about any potentially identifying information that could trigger me in a google search.

I have also learned that anytime someone expresses sacrifice for a greater good, code words like "crusade" get trotted out. I prefer "moral, ethical, and professional responsibility."

I will post more later and get to my point in creating this thread.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1713
    
  14

Mark Felt wrote: ... my safety might outweigh the need for their posts to exist in perpetuity...

I have also learned that anytime someone expresses sacrifice for a greater good, code words like "crusade" get trotted out. I prefer "moral, ethical, and professional responsibility."


With the greatest of respect, could I suggest you take a step back and take a fresh look at what you're doing?

You have made it plain that you fear for your safety and that of your family, that clear and credible threats have been made against you, and that you are facing powerful vested interests. The issue, insofar as you are able to present it here, appears to be about corruption in academic and government circles, and the knock-on consequences of that corruption, including outside the country concerned. A serious matter, but it has to be said not a matter of life and death, not even terribly surprising. Corruption is endemic in many countries, including Western democracies, and people who owe their positions and power to networks of corruption are unlikely to be overly threatened by one nervous whistle-blower, whatever his sense of "moral, ethical and professional responsibility".

So you are proposing to put your personal safety and that of your family on the line in a battle that it seems - from your own evidence - that you are unlikely to win. When all the dust settles down, you may feel like a hero, but you may also be out of a job (or in jail) with your family in trouble too, while the same powerful interests will still be playing their corrupt games.

There may be a lot to be said for displaying "moral, ethical and professional responsibility" in the face of corruption, but there is a danger of your conscience leading you into futile displays of courage against overwhelming odds: "C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre."

Think about what you can realistically expect (not hope) to achieve from this confrontation, and maybe play a longer game by moving away before you expose these issues. If you think this battle is really worth fighting and winning, then why not wait until you know you can win it without exposing your family to the dangers you have described? Don't be hero, be a winner.
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18840
    
  40


I hate to be the bad guy here.... but this topic is in the Job Discussion forum and it has yet to justify its purpose to be in this forum. It was moved from the Meaningless Drivel forum because it wanted serious replies, but it has yet to prove that it itself is serious. At this point, there are a few ways to look at this topic...

1. It is serious, and the situation is dangerous -- in which case, the responses given are appropriate. This topic should be deleted, as any further discussion just brings more danger.

2. This topic is a joke -- in which case, it should be deleted (use the one in the Meaningless Forum instead, which can treat this as a joke).

And now....

3. This topic is starting to extend the conspiracy to the ranch itself (as moderators are related somehow) ... in which case, it should be deleted because that's what us evil moderators do.


Henry

Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
Mark Felt
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 05, 2012
Posts: 14
Mr. Wong, the problem that I have is that if I were to present the situation as a hypothetical, everyone would say that the resolution is clear and easy: get a meeting with someone on the chain of command at the uni (say the university president), report it, and get it over and done with. Clearly there have been moral, ethical and professional lapses that you must report and you have a moral, ethical, and professional responsibility to do so.

The problem is that's what I did. I reported to the university president, made the recommendation (against his recommendation) to report the multiple incidents to the accrediting agency and other affected universities, submitted hundreds of files with thousands of pages of documentation and witnessed statements, wrote the plan to fix the problems and resolve the ethical breaches. I told the president that I did not have the authority to act and sign off on the "disputed" documents. This country is known for its corruption at its universities, but I did not think mine was one of them. Basically, all of my documentation from academic to duty of care to financial pointed to either gross misconduct by an isolated few or organizational fraud. I told him that if changes weren't implemented that "I [could]n't stay here, and [he had] to tell me. I have a family." Let me translate that last sentence: if this university is corrupt at the organization level, he needed to let me go. He wanted me to stay and sign a contract. He promised to help resolve the problems after the end of the semester during the summer. He told me he would "reassign" the personnel at the end of the semester. (This is a "face-saving" culture, and no one ever gets fired.)

Apparently, I stepped on a "relationship". I was fired. My pay, severance, certificate of employment, letter of termination were all withheld, my family was evicted with a knock on the door, and I have been harassed since. I would not sign off on fraudulent documents, and he affixed his personal stamp to seek my criminal prosecution when I went for legal help to a government agency for my pay.

I have kept that general enough so that a google keyword search won't find me. If they read the description, they'll know it's me. In short, I have documentation that implicates a university, a university president, academic departments, accounting, payroll, and faculty in academic fraud, misuse of public funds, tax evasion, what we call "duty of care", and other malfeasance. Oh, and there's a twist ending, which I will not reveal here.

Now go back to the weeks that you are putting all this together and you find overwhelming, blatant evidence in files, records, transcripts, schedules, grade reports, syllabi, emails, payroll.... What would you have done?

What would you do if you were an employee at a Waffle House and you found this? Now what would you do if you were in education? Would you have just looked the other way? (I could have made a small fortune in bribes from students and their families.) After they fired you and all the harassment, would you have just signed the documents? Where do you get off the slippery slope?

You can answer this as an abstract hypothetical from the safety of your armchair.
Now answer this as if it were really happening to you.
Do you have two different answers?

(Coming full circle, Mr. Wong, as to your point one, I am assuming the risk in posting this. I had posted a warning to all potential posters that I might request that the mods delete this thread. The mods cited the golden ethos of forum. My point to the mods was that this is serious and perhaps the sacred rules of forum should be suspended due to the potential risks that I face in their holding to them; nonetheless, I chose to accept their rules. The mods take their responsibilities to forum seriously. I'm in education, and I take my moral, ethical, and professional responsibilities equally seriously. Academic and other fraud damages the whole system. Does that qualify as serious? I have been threatened with Asian prison. Does that qualify as serious? Points 2 and 3 I choose not to address.)
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18840
    
  40



To all users ... If there are any comments, questions, or anything else to add, please do so now. This topic will be closed in a few days.




(sorry for being the bad guy here)
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18840
    
  40

Mark Felt,

Your post was moved to a new topic.

Henry
Mark Felt
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 05, 2012
Posts: 14
I replied at the new topic, but I had not noticed that the new topic was put in the Siberia forum. Specifically I addressed that the new topic, absent of context, at best becomes obscured.

From all that I have written, and I have written quite a bit, readers can see that I write cogently, I don't babble, I haven't made any supernatural claims. I haven't spammed other boards or posted under this name in other boards. I haven't been disrespectful to users.** What I have written about is the dilemma of the whistle blower. Is it really that uncomfortable a situation for this one thread? Can't readers vote with their feet?

I maintain that I am a real person in a real situation. I know that if I had run across this thread as a disinterested reader, I would post, "I'm an intelligent reader. If OP is joking, I can choose to filter or ignore. If he's not, he has a serious thread in the Job Discussion forum. If I can't be sure, it's an interesting hypothetical, and OP is putting a lot of work into it. Let me decide for myself."

+++++++++++++++++
**I have been at JR long enough to remember the best user's agreement I've seen on the interwebs: Be Nice. I didn't notice it this time.

(I am going to cut-and-paste my post from the other forum. I don't mean any disrespect. I certainly don't see the cost or harm.)
Winston Gutkowski
Bartender

Joined: Mar 17, 2011
Posts: 7795
    
  21

Henry Wong wrote:I hate to be the bad guy here...but...
3. This topic is starting to extend the conspiracy to the ranch itself (as moderators are related somehow) ... in which case, it should be deleted because that's what us evil moderators do.

Has my vote.

@Mark: If this is indeed a serious post, and not a wind-up (and you have to understand our skepticism), I would suggest that you've come to the wrong place; although I can't honestly suggest where the best might be, apart from possibly Amnesty International (I assume that it might be lower down on monitored sites (if that's what you fear) than some obvious others).
As for the strictures of academe: I'm with chris - Galileo recanted his "heresy" before he was publicly (and independently) vindicated. Far better to wait and tell the truth eventually than for it to fall on deaf ears (or not at all).
I'm the son of a Pole who had to leave his country because of the Nazis, and the story of the parents he left behind is pretty harrowing. They both survived though, basically by keeping their heads down. Sometimes, that's all you can do.

Hope it doesn't sound too trite.

Winston


Isn't it funny how there's always time and money enough to do it WRONG?
Articles by Winston can be found here
 
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subject: Would You Whistle Blow? (Serious Replies)