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  • Save the Whales NOAA

    Marine biologist Nancy Black is being prosecuted by NOAA.

    Nancy Black is a marine biologist who has dedicated her life to the preservation and study of whales. National Geographic and PBS have featured her work. Yet, the federal government is now prosecuting her—persecuting her would not be too strong a term—for her efforts to learn more about whales.

    Why? Well, it appears that the federal government is going after her like Inspector Javert went after Jean Valjean simply to justify the time and effort the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the DOJ have already spent on the case.

    A recent column in The Washington Post highlights the problem. Nancy Black’s tragedy began when she questioned the conduct of her colleagues, who were whistling at whales in an attempt to keep them near their boat. In response, a member of the crew called NOAA to see if whistling constituted harassment of whales, which is a federal crime.

    To cooperate with the investigation that ensued, Nancy voluntarily gave a video recording of the event to NOAA investigators. Nancy had edited the tape to cut out time where there was no whistling. She thought NOAA investigators were only interested in the potential harassment. Regrettably, she was wrong.

    Months later, NOAA agents burst into her home, demanding the unedited tape. Nancy gave NOAA the unedited tapes, but she was later charged with altering evidence and making false statements in violation of federal law for the original edited recordings. These could land Nancy in prison for up to 20 years.

    Why would NOAA prosecute a woman who has dedicated her life to the very cause it promotes? Perhaps for NOAA, these types of prosecutions are a battle for survival.

    NOAA has a history of egregious conduct in investigating and prosecuting crime. In the last 14 years, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has reprimanded NOAA seven times. In 2010, OIG issued a report that detailed 53 separate cases where misconduct had been alleged against NOAA in the way that it handled criminal investigations and prosecutions.

    On numerous occasions, including a 2009 report, the OIG has found that NOAA had way too many criminal investigators. Criminal investigators made up approximately 90 percent of NOAA’s Office of Legal Enforcement, while criminal prosecutions made up only 2 percent of violations that NOAA has handled. The OIG found that the principal motivating factor for the composition of the Office of Legal Enforcement was that criminal investigators are paid much better than other Office of Legal Enforcement personnel.

    The NOAA has repeatedly asked Congress to create more criminal laws for it to enforce. (Apparently, NOAA is unfamiliar with the Parable of the Talents.) Instead of giving more authority to NOAA, Congress should reassess the authority it already has.

    Congress’s questioning should include the following:

    • Does NOAA need the authority to investigate and prosecute criminal violations?
    • Should the laws that NOAA enforces carry criminal penalties?
    • Is the FBI more capable of handling these situations?
    • Why should someone like Nancy Black be charged criminally?
    • Is society safer with Nancy in prison?
    • Are whales safer with Nancy in prison?

    If the NOAA wants to dispute these questions, it should be willing to defend its actions in front of Congress. While OIG can write reports and give recommendations, only Congress can hit them where it hurts—the wallet. Most likely, NOAA is not the only small government agency abusing its power. Maybe this is a good opportunity for Congress to review all of the smaller agencies with criminal investigative power.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Save the Whales NOAA

    1. Abijhan says:

      I was wondering why the govt needed all that hollow point ammo, now I know. Did somebody read her her rights? Did anyone tell her she was providing "evidence" as referred to in a court of law? Did they give her a copy of the "chain of custody" that is required for "evidence" to change hands? The govt is out of control. I wish her luck on her huge lawsuit against NOAA.

    2. Jim Scarff says:

      For folks who want to learn more about Nancy,her research, and the criminal case against her, go to the website we have set up for her defense:
      http://www.nancyblacklegaldefense.org/

      This website gives suggestions on various ways you can help (including donations to offset the $100,000 in legal fees she has already incurred), and contains the most recent information publicly available.

    3. Bobbie says:

      The world is filled with fakes, phonies and frauds. The weakest of humanity have infiltrated throughout! Whatever fits the agenda is the "change" for the day when there is no accountability or anyone holding anyone accountable that is. The good of people are taken advantage of and it's time to get tough and hold the juveniles accountable everywhere their political nonsense exists! Let's clean the crap out of America!

      Speaking of fakes, phonies and frauds, the shtruggles of the Mrs. and Mr. are ridiculous. The Mrs. dad made 50,000.00 in the 70's that my husband doesn't make today providing for a household of 5 where unpatriotic government taxes are holding us back! Wonder how much her dad paid in taxes? Or Obama himself?

      The Mrs. and Mr. have no idea what struggle is and insult it with what elitist cons would call struggle. They'll take anything that fits their agenda… dumpster diving for something unnecessary and shoes half his size. WOW! What an unusual struggle and thinking process…

      We don't belong to government. Government belongs to the people and services the people without discrimination of race, creed or culture!!! EQUALLY! Lots to clean up!! The president's term "Forward" exemplifies the removal of America's freedom into socialism. That is totally backward and 3rd world! Another "code" word to take serious awareness of…

    4. Captain Heidi Tiura says:

      Articles such as this make grandiose claims about what Nancy Black has done for the whales, but they are sadly mistaken. I ought to know; my husband and I ran a competing whale watching business on the Monterey Bay for over a decade.
      Our company, Sanctuary Cruises in Moss Landing, was conservation-based. (It still is, but we sold it in 2011.) We started it after we lost a National Science Foundation grant for our gray whale research, conservation and education project called "In the Path of Giants." We were in the home stretch on the grant; we had made it through peer review. Then we went to Neah Bay to fight the Makah Indian gray whale hunt. This is an anti-whaling country and Japan wanted to weaken our stance, so they pushed the Makah to resume whaling. (See Eye of the Whale by Dick Russell for the whole sordid tale.) We broke no laws during the miserable 75 days we spent at Neah Bay, but when we returned to Monterey, we were told our project was no longer eligible for the grant. Apparently you don't speak out against whaling in an anti-whaling country and still get funding from the government.
      We educated our passengers about the gentle ways to enter an area with whales so that they weren't disturbed and their patterns–especially feeding–weren't altered. We explained it takes more patience to approach slowly and then let the whales choose how close they want to come, but that in working this way, if we did have close sightings, it was the choice of the marine life. We could all feel good about it.
      I'd be happy to give you names and phone numbers of people we took out, so they can corroborate what I'm saying. Were you to ask them, they could express their shock, dismay and anger seeing Nancy race at high speed into the middle of a pod of whales and dolphins, especially killer whales.
      She acted like a crazy person; I believe she feels only she has any right to profit from whales, and profit she has. For a very long time, Nancy has been the exclusive provider of film boats for almost all of the shoots on Monterey Bay. Her company was known as the go-to company to get the shot, but at what cost to marine life?
      Many times, if Nancy was on scene first with whales, she left as we arrived, because I had a showdown with her and demanded she clean up her act. This was in the spring of 2004, and with our newly formed agreement, our company communicated orca sightings to Nancy, ostensibly for research. A record number of baby gray whales were born in the lagoons of Baja the previous winter, and their migration north with their mothers prompted a record number of orca attacks as they crossed the Monterey Bay. It eats at my soul that while we believed Nancy had quit the abuse, all she did was move to other creatures on the bay, to harass them.
      As mentioned in the National Geographic documentary "Whale Attack," in which I recreated our Mother's Day 2004 cruise, I spotted the attack that resulted in the documentary. We called the Monterey fleet in.
      I'm not positive, but it is possible the gray whale blubber Nancy is charged with chumming for orcas with came from the badly injured calf we saw that day. The orcas chased the mother and calf toward Moss Landing, but peeled off when the pair reached shallow water. I do know Nancy tied gray whale blubber to a piece of rope and attached the rope to her "research" boat, which had a film crew on board.
      Do you have any idea how powerful killer whales' jaws are? I have seen a pair of them rip an adult sea lion in half with one violent jerk. What do you suppose might have happened if the orcas managed to bite through the rope and ingest it with the blubber? Have you any idea how painful death by intestinal strangulation is? I know vets will put horses down immediately if they believe their intestines are twisted, because it is so monstrously cruel to let them suffer. Nancy took the risk because she simply doesn't care.
      So, think again about Nancy Black. All she has done is profit from marine life while she bludgeoned it. My husband likened it to a zookeeper who goes into the animals' cages and beats them senseless with a baseball bat, and he is not wrong.

      • Bobbie says:

        WOW! That's quite a contrast! So is it alright to assume you give approval of the NOAA?

      • I think Captain Heidi Tiura revealed her hand with the comment, "I ran a competing whale watching business on the Monterey Bay for over a decade" and then opining that she had lost a grant from the National Science Foundation.

        Her comments sound like sour grapes.

    5. It is interesting that criminal investigators made up approximately 90 percent of NOAA’s Office of Legal Enforcement while FBI Special Agents only make up 40% of the employees of the FBI.

      If the FBI had been linked to 53 cases of investigative misconduct in a year there would have been a Congressional inquiry. Where is the NOAA Office of Professional Responsibility?

      If the tape was provided to the NOAA for professional feedback regarding the legality of the activities in question, it is not considered evidence in a criminal investigation since a formal investigation had not been initiated when the tape was proffered.

      This is clearly going to end up as another case of investigative misconduct by the NOAA. Unfortunately, there are innocent victims when government is out of control.

    6. "Yet, the federal government is now prosecuting her—persecuting her would not be too strong a term—for her efforts to learn more about whales."

      "Nancy gave NOAA the unedited tapes, but she was later charged with altering evidence and making false statements in violation of federal law for the original edited recordings."

      Well, which is it? Is she being prosecuted for her educational efforts or for the tapes? And if she really did make false statements to a federal agency, should she not have been charged?

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