Whistleblower Beating: Details Emerge

The phone reception was awful on the conference call describing the assault on Los Alamos investigator Tommy Hook. But here's the information I pieced together, based on what I could hear his wife, his lawyer, and his partner say:hook_beat.jpgLast Friday, Los Alamos auditor-turned- whistleblower Tommy Hook got a phone call at his Albuquerque home. It was late -- past ten-thirty at night, and Tommy was getting ready to go to bed. He had had shoulder surgery recently, and a stroke about a year-and-a-half before that. So he needed his rest.But Tommy got up, anyway. The man on the other end of the call said he was an auditor, too, at Los Alamos. And he had information that could corroborate Tommy's upcoming testimony before the House Energy Committee on financial shenanigans at Los Alamos. The two were supposed to meet earlier that day, but the auditor couldn't make the appointment. Could Tommy meet him now, he asked?Tommy made the fifty-minute drive to Santa Fe, to a nudie bar called Cheeks. And there he waited, for over an hour. The auditor never showed. So finally, frustrated, Tommy walked out, got into his car, and started it up.Suddenly, he was yanked out of the car by four to six men. And "they began to beat him with their feet," Tommy's wife, Susan, said. Afterwards, "there were shoe marks on his face." His jaw was fractured. At the hospital, doctors wired it shut -- and diagnosed him with a herniated disk, too.The men "didn't take his wallet or our car," Susan added. But they "kept telling him," according to Tommy's lawyer, Bob Rothstein, "'If you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut."Now the assailants didn't mention Los Alamos, or the University of California (UC), which runs the lab on behalf of the Energy Department. And Tommy's testimony -- which had been rescheduled several times, because of an impending family cruise -- was not publicly known. Nobody on the conference call accused the lab or UC of ordering some sort of hit on Tommy.But by battling whistleblowers in court, by retaliating against them on the job, and by stretching their cases out for years on end, UC "encouraged an atmosphere where whistleblowers were perceived as enemies of the University," Rothstein said.The local police have been called in to investigate the incident. And "the FBI is with Tommy right now," his wife said as the conference call came to a close.

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