Whistleblower org says it will go to jail rather than turning over its keys

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has told the Obama administration that its leaders will go to jail rather than respond to an extrajudicial administrative subpoena seeking the identity of whistleblowers who disclosed corruption in the Veterans' Administration.

POGO operates an anonymized submission portal for whistleblowers to report government wrongdoing. The administrative subpoena -- which has no "probable cause" requirement -- seeks the crypto keys for the portal.

POGO launched its submission tool in the immediate aftermath of the disclosure of the Veterans Administration scandal, which on Monday blossomed to revelations that as many as 57,000 vets have been awaiting treatment for as long as three months each because of 1990s-era scheduling technology. The agency is also accused of trying to cover that up.

The subpoena from the Department of Veteran's Affairs Inspector General demands from POGO records related to "wait times, access to care, and/or patient scheduling issues at the Phoenix, Arizona VA Healthcare System and any other VA medical facility."

On Monday, POGO told the Obama administration that it would not comply with the subpoena. Most government agencies have such subpoena powers, and they have been doled out hundreds of thousands of times, all with the signature of federal officials as no judge is required. The subpoenas demand that utilities, ISPs, telecommunication companies, banks, hospitals, and bookstores cough up information if the authorities deem it relevant to an investigation.

To defeat encryption, feds deploy the subpoena [David Kravets/Ars Technica]

(Image: Qiqi Green Whistle 8-16-09 3, Steven Depolo, CC-BY)