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Dear _________________,

 

As many of us prepare to fly around the country for the holidays, POGO has released a new report (http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/reports/homeland-security/breaking-the-sound-barrier/hs-as-20081125.html)  on the miserable experience of federal air marshal whistleblowers dealing with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).  We chose to focus on the OSC’s mishandling of air marshal cases for two reasons: 1) President Bush has highlighted the critical role air marshals play in keeping our airplanes and airports secure, and 2) former Special Counsel Scott Bloch touted his work with air marshals as evidence of a successful tenure.

In case after case, however, we found that the OSC failed to protect air marshals who came forward with serious security concerns and allegations of whistleblower retaliation.  In addition to setting the record straight on Bloch’s tenure at the OSC, our report looks forward to the future of the agency, which is in need of a major overhaul in the next administration.

Be sure to check out our press alert and blog post to learn more.

We also sent a letter to Robert Bray, Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, urging him to foster an organizational culture in which employees are not only encouraged to express safety concerns and ideas for reform, but are also protected for doing so.

 

Warm regards,

 

 

 

Danielle Brian

Executive Director

Project On Government Oversight

 

 

 

Click here to view our most recent press alerts:  http://www.pogo.org/press-room/press-alert-archive.html

 

 

This should not have been allowed to happen, and most certainly should not be allowed to continue.  -GFS

——————————————————————

Justice Report Finds Aides Illegally Discriminated Against Career Hires Who Weren’t Republican

 

by: Lara Jakes Jordon, The Associated Press

 

 Washington – Top aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales broke the law by letting politics influence the hiring of career prosecutors and immigration judges at the Justice Department, says an internal report released Monday.

    Gonzales was largely unaware of the hiring decisions by two of his most trusted aides, according to the report by Justice’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility.

    But it singles out his former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, for violating federal law and Justice Department policy by discriminating against job applicants who weren’t Republican or conservative loyalists.

    “Goodling improperly subjected candidates for certain career positions to the same politically based evaluation she used on candidates for political positions,” the report concluded.

    In one instance, Justice investigators found, Goodling objected to hiring an assistant prosecutor in Washington because “judging from his resume, he appeared to be a liberal Democrat.”

    In another, she rejected an experienced terror prosecutor to work on counterterror issues at a Justice Department headquarters office “because of his wife’s political affiliations,” the report found. It also found she rejected at least one job applicant who was rumored to be a lesbian.

    Goodling’s attorney, John Dowd, declined comment Monday. Attempts to reach her were not immediately successful.

    Additionally, a majority of immigration judge candidates considered by former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson were recommended by the White House’s political affairs office – including one name forwarded by then-top adviser Karl Rove. Sampson told investigators that he did not consider those jobs to be protected from political considerations.

    His lawyer, Brad Berenson, described those hiring decisions as an honest mistake and said that Sampson “immediately agreed with the recommendation to put a stop to this process” when he first learned he may have been wrong.

    The federal government makes a distinction between so-called “career” appointees and “political” appointees, and the long-accepted custom has been that career workers are not hired on the basis of political affiliation or allegiance.

    The 140-page report does not indicate whether Goodling or Sampson could face any charges. None of those involved in the discriminatory hiring still work at Justice, meaning they will avoid any departmental penalties.

    However, Justice investigators said that bar associations that license lawyers have asked about the report’s findings on Goodling – indicating she could be sanctioned there, potentially including losing her ability to practice law.

    Congressional investigators said they also were considering asking the Justice Department to pursue perjury charges against Goodling, Sampson and possibly Gonzales as a result of their spoken or written congressional testimony during House and Senate investigations last year. Lying to Congress is a crime.

    Democrats said the report affirms their charges of White House meddling in the hiring and firing of Justice Department employees.

    “The cost to our nation of these apparent crimes was severe, as qualified individuals were rejected for key positions in the fight against terrorism and other critical department jobs for no reason other than political whim,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.

    “The report also indicates that Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and Alberto Gonzales may have lied to the Congress about these matters,” Conyers added. “I have directed my staff to closely review this matter and to consider whether a criminal referral for perjury is needed.”

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said “it is crystal clear that the law was broken” by the political hiring process.

    “But since it is unlikely that Monica Goodling acted on her own,” Schumer added, “the question is, how many others were involved.”

    In their report, Justice investigators sought to find whether Republican politics were driving hiring polices at the nation’s premier law enforcement agency whose appointees are expected to be selected on a nonpartisan basis. The investigation is one of several that examine accusations that Bush administration politics drove prosecution, policy and employment decisions within the Justice Department.

    Those accusations were initially spurred by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006 and culminated with Gonzales’ resignation under fire as attorney general last September.

    Gonzales, who has kept a low profile since leaving the department said in a statement that “political considerations should play no part in the hiring of career officials at the Department of Justice. …I agree with the report’s recommendations.” His attorney, George Terwilliger, defended Gonzales by saying “it’s simply not possible for any Cabinet officer to be completely aware of and micromanage the activities of staffers, particularly where they don’t inform him of what’s going on.”

    The man who replaced Gonzales, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, said he is “of course disturbed” by the findings.

    “I have said many times, both to members of the public and to department employees, it is neither permissible nor acceptable to consider political affiliations in the hiring of career department employees,” Mukasey said in a statement shortly after the report was released Monday morning. “And I have acted, and will continue to act, to ensure that my words are translated into reality so that the conduct described in this report does not occur again at the department.”

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said the report indicates that the effort to politicize federal law enforcement was not just the actions of a few “bad apples,” but administration policy.

    He called it “a clear indication of the untoward political influence of the Bush administration on traditionally nonpolitical appointments.”

    ———

    Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.

    ———

    The DOJ report can be found at: http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/s0807/final.pdf

»

From www.pogo.org    Click on Blog. 

It appears the sudden rash of Boeing bringing up whistleblowers on criminal charges, (See Eastman case and others mentioned here and at other sites), may have something to do with Boeing Management agreement with the Department of Justice, Deferred Prosecution Agreements.   It falls under “Boeing’s promises and obligations” within the deferred prosecution agreement between Boeing and the Department of Justice.

Perhaps this has allowed Boeing management to accuse employees, including whistleblowers (whom they refuse to acknowledge are whistleblowers), of crimes, prosecute them, and therefore “prove” they are trying to do right, thereby escaping the Boeing Company itself from being held culpable for the violations of the agreements, many of which were put into place as a resolution of the Darlene Druyan, ”Tanker Deal” affair. 

It is the opinion of this observer, as it appears much has come out in Mr. Eastman’s case which would expose Boeing Corporate and Management’s involvement in directing improprieties, all of which should be exposed for what it is and the responsibility and blame put where it really belongs, squarely on the shoulders of Boeing Corporate level managers, right from the top down.  -GFS

******************************************************************

May 30, 2008

 

DOJ Documents Shed Light on Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Corporate Monitors

Deferred prosecution agreements, non-prosecution agreements and corporate monitors are three legal terms that, until quite recently, meant nothing to non-lawyers.

That began to change late last year when word got around that former Attorney General John Ashcroft landed a lucrative position as a corporate monitor courtesy of a former employee, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie. Christie gave the job to his former boss under a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), a deal which allowed the company Christie’s office was investigating for fraud to escape prosecution by agreeing to certain terms. One of those terms was paying up to $52 million to Ashcroft’s consulting firm to serve as an independent overseer making sure the company behaves for a certain period of time.

Soon, Congress got involved. In January, it put the Justice Department on the hot seat, requesting documents showing how U.S. Attorneys are using these new prosecutorial tools. Two weeks ago, Justice responded with a batch of documents relating to DPAs, NPAs (non-prosecution agreements, which are like DPAs except they do not involve the filing of formal criminal charges) and corporate monitors. The documents are now posted on the House Judiciary Committee’s web site.

Judging from Congress’ initial reaction, the Justice Department isn’t off the hook yet. The documents show 85 DPAs and NPAs that U.S. Attorney’s offices around the country have entered into with companies in recent years, including some that appear in POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database: Boeing, British Petroleum, ITT and Textron. However, according to Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), he found another 12 agreements that were not included in the documents.

The documents also identify the corporate monitors who were selected in 41 of the agreements (see page 5 of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski’s letter to Conyers). At least 30 of these monitors are, like Ashcroft, former prosecutors or other government officials.

The Justice Department defends its use of DPAs, NPAs and corporate monitors as a “middle ground” between not prosecuting corporate crime at all and throwing the book at companies, which often involves enormous investments of the government’s time and money and risks hurting innocent employees and shareholders who had nothing to do with the misconduct. POGO and Congress, on the other hand, are still concerned about the lack of accountability and transparency.

— Neil Gordon

 

Spying, intrigue surround election of machinists at Boeing

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Someone furtively shoots secret surveillance photos as a well-connected political lobbyist arrives for a meeting.

Inside, a mole takes notes and snaps quickly with a cellphone camera.

A third person drops documents and photos at a newspaper office.

No, it’s not a John le Carré spy novel. It’s election time at the Machinists union, representing 25,000 Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area and 2,500 more in Portland and Wichita, Kan.

This month’s contentious internal elections precede crucial contract negotiations that open May 9.

The president of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 751, Tom Wroblewski, is the successor to the leadership that in 2005 staged a monthlong Boeing strike.

Ronnie Behnke, a 30-year veteran machine-parts inspector in Auburn, leads an opposition slate called the Unity Coalition that seeks a less acrimonious relationship with Boeing.

Primary-like local lodge elections begin today and continues through May 14. Behnke hopes to challenge Wroblewski in the final June districtwide election.

Claims of election-law violations are routine in union contests. This time, supporters of the incumbent union leadership resorted to cloak-and-dagger tactics in an attempt to prove a violation by the other side.

The evening of April 22, their surreptitious efforts climaxed at a union council meeting where the mole came out from undercover and denounced the Unity slate for receiving guidance from Linda Lanham, a longtime Machinists union lobbyist who jumped ship in January 2006 to lead the state’s aerospace-industry organization, the Aerospace Futures Alliance (AFA).

Boeing provides about half of the AFA’s funding.

Son on ticket

Lanham’s son, Rick Humiston, is a union steward who is running on the Unity ticket. Lanham admits to attending Unity Coalition strategy meetings but insists, “I’m just supporting my son.”

Union leaders don’t buy that and bitterly object to Lanham’s involvement in an internal union election.

“She’s a corporate lobbyist,” Wroblewski said. “It’s totally inappropriate.”

Lanham spent 26 years as the IAM’s political director, becoming the powerful union’s voice in Olympia and gaining the ear of the state’s political elite.

But as AFA director, Lanham successfully lobbied in Olympia this year to kill legislation driven by the Machinists that would have limited anti-organizing activities by employers.

The union leadership sees her now as an opponent.

“We’re appalled we have to go down to Olympia to fight against Linda Lanham,” said Larry Brown, her successor as IAM political director.

“I cannot imagine that a majority of our members would want a group of candidates directed by … an industry lobbyist, to be running their union.”

In an interview, Lanham said she would like the Machinists union to join AFA to help promote jobs here, and she dismissed the idea she is working on Boeing’s behalf.

Lanham said she attended meetings of the Unity candidates but does not direct their strategy.

“If they ask me, I tell them what I think,” she said.

Behnke said she leads the opposition group, not Lanham.

“If I ask her, she’ll help me,” Behnke said. “I bounce ideas off her. She’s a good political strategist.”

“Neanderthal stance”

One of those ideas, Behnke said, is changing what she described as the incumbent leadership’s confrontational, “Neanderthal” stance toward Boeing.

“Threatening the company, in my opinion, is not a very smart business move,” Behnke said.

At last week’s meeting of the union’s district council at its South Park headquarters, Matt Moeller, a jet-engine inspector and union steward who was on the Unity Coalition ticket, asked to speak to the audience of about 150 Machinists.

Moeller rose and nervously read a statement revealing himself as a spy.

He said he had joined Behnke’s ticket only to investigate the extent of Lanham’s rumored involvement in the union election.

Moeller said that at three Unity candidate meetings he attended in March and April, Lanham took a leading role in discussions of the group’s election strategy, and urged them to be less confrontational with Boeing.

Snapping photos

As evidence, he snapped a cellphone photo of Behnke and Lanham sitting alone together at the front of the room, addressing the gathering.

Moeller’s revelation was greeted with raucous cheers and a standing ovation from supporters of the current leadership.

His erstwhile colleagues on the Unity slate were totally blind-sided, Behnke said.

In an interview the next day, Moeller said it had been difficult to stay undercover. Some Machinist friends of his from high school cold-shouldered him as a turncoat. And he didn’t feel good about the spying.

“It’s shady, I know,” he said. “I didn’t like doing that.”

Nevertheless, he said, he carried out the undercover effort because he thought Lanham was attempting to influence the election in a year of sensitive contract negotiations.

In an interview, Lanham called that idea “ridiculous.”

“The only reason I’m doing this is because my son is running,” Lanham said. “The rest is just garbage.”

Behnke called Moeller’s subterfuge “sad.”

“It’s a diversionary tactic by [the incumbent leadership] to try to sway this election.”

Moeller was not alone in spying on the Unity group.

Ed Lutgen, a union official who heads the steward program, took some 300 surreptitious photos of Lanham and others arriving at Unity Coalition meetings.

Another IAM staffer, union organizer Jesse Cote, who is a friend of Lutgen, also participated in the surveillance.

The morning before Moeller’s announcement at the council meeting, Cote delivered to a reporter some of Lutgen’s photos as well as an excerpt from federal labor law that bars officials of any “employer or association of employers” from providing “money or any other thing of value” to union members.

“I don’t want a corporate entity involved with our union politics,” Cote said. “They have no place there.”

When informed of the surveillance by Cote and Lutgen, Behnke was incensed.

“Who do they think they are, the CIA?” she said. “That’s pathetic.”

The federal agency charged with ensuring that union elections comply with labor law is the Office of Labor Management Standards.

Dennis Eckert, acting regional director of the agency, confirmed that employers and their agents are barred from supporting candidates in a union election, either with money, resources or even work on company time.

He declined to comment on Lanham’s involvement with the Machinists slate.

Eckert’s predecessor, John Heaney, did offer an assessment. Heaney retired from the agency two months ago and now works with a company called BallotPoint that helps unions ensure compliance with labor laws.

“If she is advising them as an individual citizen, she certainly can do that,” Heaney said.

“If she’s advising them in her capacity as a representative of an employer, that certainly raises some questions.”

Heaney said it would be a violation of the law if Lanham were using her AFA position to mold “a union that would be more palatable to Boeing.”

The key, he said, would be whether she used any AFA resources. Lanham insisted she’s been careful not to do so.

Union officials Cote and Lutgen said they, too, were careful to do what they did on their own time and not use union resources, which would also be illegal under federal labor law.

Both of them, as well as Moeller, insist they acted without direction from union leaders.

Boeing in a statement said the company is “neutral” in the union’s election.

“We’ll respect the choice of our employees and work with whomever they choose to represent them,” spokesman Tim Healy said.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

FELONY CONDUCT. . . IS

FELONY CONDUCT

 

The sentencing of former Pentagon IG Chief

Investigator Richard T. Race

 

 

 

Op-Ed

 

By Douglas K. Kinan

 

April 24, 2008

 

In a well unpublicized case, “Richard T. Race, the Pentagon inspector general’s chief investigator of procurement fraud and official misconduct quit his job and pleaded guilty last month to violating U.S. banking laws.”  Mr. Race was also a key member of the Defense Council on Integrity and Efficiency.  The sentencing date for Mr. Race is May 2, 2008.

 

A March 18, 2008, Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) Information Release, states, “The Office of Inspector General was not involved in the reporting or investigation of the matters underlying the recent judicial action and has no information that would suggest any relationship between those matters and Mr. Race’s official duties with the OIG.” 

 

I disagree.  Felony conduct is not about the person – it’s about felony conduct – and its related.

 

At his arraignment Judge Leonie Brinkema told Mr. Race that he should have “known better.”  Mr. Race’s many years of experience in law enforcement and his actions demonstrate that his intent was clear. See the letter Mr. Kinan sent to Judge Brinkema.

 

As a former Department of Defense employee, after Mr. Race’s appointment I wrote to him requesting that the extensive and pervasive verified record of felony conduct and well planned discrimination by several officials at the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMAE), Boston, Massachusetts be investigated. 

 

Concerning two, of many employees, who were framed and fired for violations that Mr. Race knew they did not commit, the Hotline Director, Mr. Leonard Trahan, Jr., (and eventually Mr. Race’s subordinate) writes, “There were two EEO cases in the District in which Mr. Kinan disagreed with the decisions made by Ms. Appleton and Mr. Krasker, the DCMDE Chief Counsel.  Instead of accepting those decisions “as reasonable people can disagree”, they became a ‘cause celebre’ for Mr. Kinan.” 

 

That the Hotline Director who is responsible for DoD fraud, waste and abuse would essentially admit that it is okay to frame innocent individuals, stand by and watch them anguish for many months (Virella was 60 months) and allow them to be stripped of their career and full pension and then justify felony conduct as a “cause celebre” is contrary to what the DoD Hotline does. 

 

In a conflict of interest, Mr. Race’s second subordinate, Mr. James L. Pavlik, covered up for Mr. Trahan by conducting a fraudulent investigation, making false official statements and issuing a fraudulent report to Senator Charles Grassley

 

Despite the unequivocal fact that Mr. Pavlik had a “specific and credible” record that innocent employees were framed, Mr. Pavlik wrote, “The analysis that concludes Mr. Kinan’s disclosure did not contain “specific and credible” information or did not meet the “substantial likelihood” test that it would be substantiated and was therefore not in the category of cases referable to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service…”

 

Mr. Race could have prevented the DCMAE from framing others.  Instead, Mr. Race opted to shield his subordinates’ felony conduct.  As I wrote to the DoD Inspector General, Claude Kicklighter, “Framing two innocent individuals is not just a simple matter of “two EEO cases” – it’s framing two innocent people.” 

 

The DCMAE wasted more than one million taxpayer dollars to secretly settle these two threatened lawsuits that could expose their felony conduct, promotion fixing and program fraud in the millions of taxpayer dollars. 

 

Mr. Race’s deliberate indifference to the conduct outlined in my thirty-page affidavit caused many innocent individuals permanent and immeasurable damage.  Additionally, the ripple effect of fixed promotions essentially denies many DoD employees the opportunity to compete for merit-based promotions. 

 

As evidence of the DCMAE’s continuing violations, Mr. Race also had knowledge of the DCMAE’s recent framing and fraudulent investigation of whistleblower, Mr. Kenneth Pedeleose, as can be verified by the October 24, 2007, United States Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) “Opinion and Order” reversing Pedeleose’s 30 day retaliatory suspension. See MSPB Docket No. AT-0752-06-0350-I-1.

 

The MSPB’s opinion and order breathes legitimacy into and corroborates the factual record that the DCMAE attorneys continue to insist on framing innocent citizens and conducting fraudulent investigations to sustain false and fabricated charges, using the same modus operandi each time.

   

Mr. Race’s insensitivity has no limits and knows no bounds – his deeds supersede his words.  Anyone willing to frame an innocent person should not be taken seriously.  It’s about the lowest act you can do. 

 

At his sentencing hearing Mr. Race or his attorney will be asking the court for leniency and will offer the standard shibboleths routinely issued by defendants.  There will be no one there to offset Mr. Race’s malice, lack of mercy, empathy or “remorse.”  The court should not overlook Mr. Race’s willingness and propensity to permanently harm innocent individuals, their families and the government. 

 

Mr. Race ignored the fact that many innocent individuals were framed, stripped of their career and full pension for violations he knew they did not commit and he condoned his subordinates’ chronic and systemic malfeasance. 

 

Mr. Race was allowed to “take voluntary retirement” on February 16, 2008.  Should Mr. Race, who admitted guilt, be allowed to collect his full pension when he knew that his subordinates consciously decided that innocent employees should not collect theirs?

 

http://www.oscwatch.org/blog/2008/04/24/felony-conduct-is-felony-conduct/

 

 

Mr. Kinan is a former Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) Specialist with the Defense Contract Management Agency, and he may be contacted as follows:

 

DougKinan@yahoo.com