I wrote to you last week that I would be testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform because I believe that all employees should be protected from retaliation for reporting waste, fraud, and abuse. I did not expect that within hours of my testimony I would be subject to additional retaliation. At 6:23 p.m. I was forwarded an email written by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Staff stating that from now on, all testimony before Congress must be pre-approved by the Army Corps and that all oral testimony must conform to the approved written testimony.
I am shocked by this blatant violation of the First Amendment. I said nothing improper during my testimony, I simply told the truth. I was testifying on my own time while I was on unpaid leave. I appeared at the invitation of Congress, to explain what happened when I reported improprieties surrounding the awarding of contracts to Halliburton-KBR just prior to the invasion of Iraq. The restriction imposed upon my right and the right of other federal employees to testify before Congress in our personal capacity free from restrain and censorship must stop NOW!
The newest attempt to silence me is the kind of retaliation that frightens government employees. Federal employees have no protection when up against powerful special interests, who can intimidate and prevent federal employees from enforcing the law. This is why Securities and Exchange Commission employees are afraid to police Wall Street. This is why Food and Drug Administration employees are afraid to police powerful pharmaceutical companies. This is why food safety inspectors are afraid to police powerful agri-business.
Its time to fight back when federal employees are forced to submit to censorship and are blocked from exercising their constitutional right to “petition Congress for redress of grievances.”
How can we fight? Every American should demand immediate passage of H.R. 1507. This law protects all federal workers who testify to Congress and gives us our day in court. It is the only way to stop overt and subtle censorship of federal employees. We need the government to work for us – not powerful special interests. Congress and the American people deserve to know the truth! Federal workers do their best to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all Americans and it is time that they are protected when federal employees are retaliated for doing their job.
Take Action now! Send this new letter to Congress and President Obama. And please pass it on to as many people as possible – your friends, family, co-workers, churches, unions, and civic groups need to know what’s going on and how they can help. Call Rajesh De at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy (202-307-3024) and convince him that the administration needs to keep its campaign promises of supporting jury trials for all federal whistleblowers by backing H.R. 1507. Or Call your Congressperson, visit your Congressperson’s local office, and do whatever else you can to show Congress and the President that we will no longer tolerate censorship. Please let us know what you are doing to help.
Thank you for you continued support.
Very Truly Yours,
Bunnatine H. Greenhouse
Former Procurement Executive
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers