Tag Archive: Bunny Greenhouse


Taking someone’s security clearance away has almost been a stereotypical action by many agencies in DoD as a part of the “deal with the whistleblower” strategy.  Trumped up justifications are too easy for them to throw together, and although they are trumped up, are very difficult to fight.  It is difficult to get one’s clearance back, particularly in a timely manner.  And most DoD employees must have their clearance in good standing in order to perform their jobs, and in many cases even report to their offices to work each day.  This is a hopeful ruling. 

-GFS

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Judge Says Army Must Answer For Denying Security Clearance to Whistleblower Bunny Greenhouse

 

Washington, D.C. July 28, 2009.   U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered yesterday that the Army Corps of Engineers must answer for its decision to withhold top-secret security clearance from whistleblower Bunnatine (Bunny) H. Greenhouse. “This decision sets a new precedent for the protection of national security whistleblowers,” said Michael D. Kohn, President of the National Whistleblowers Center and Greenhouse’s attorney.

Bunny Greenhouse was the Corps’ top procurement executive when she objected to the terms and legality of a no-bid contract the Bush Administration was about to award to Halliburton subsidiary KBR a contract just before the Iraq War commenced, known as Restore Iraqi Oil (“RIO”).  Greenhouse’s concerns were ignored and the no-bid, cost plus contract, worth up to $7 Billion, was secretly awarded to KBR to run Iraqi oil fields after the invasion. When Greenhouse was scheduled to testify before a Congressional Committee during the Bush Administration, the Army Corps’ then acting General Counsel personally advised Greenhouse it would not be in her best interest to do so and she was swiftly removed as the Army Corps’ Procurement Executive when she ignored that warning.   Greenhouse alleged that the Corps further retaliated against her by refusing to renew her top-secret security clearance (TSSC) on grounds that her new job did not require any clearance.

Greenhouse filed a lawsuit to get her old job back.  In a ruling yesterday, Judge Sullivan overruled the government’s motion to dismiss Greenhouse’s claim for her TSSC.  

Judge Sullivan acknowledged that existing case law establishes that “an adverse employment action based on denial or revocation of a security clearance is not actionable” if it would “require the court to assess the merits of the decision to deny the clearance – precisely the assessment prohibited by the Supreme Court’s holding” in Department of the Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518 (1988).”  Judge Sullivan establish new precedent, holding that “the decision to strip Greenhouse of her security clearance was based on the Corp’s claim that Greenhouse didn’t need it any more based on the jobs they intended her to perform” thereby making it “entirely unrelated to any security-sensitive considerations.”  
 
Kohn called Judge Sullivan’s decision is “well reasoned.”   “Otherwise, an agency could marginalize a whistleblower by failing to renew a security clearance for reasons that had nothing to do with security and everything to do with retaliation.”  Kohn said.  “A blanket refusal to permit a court to review the reasons for the denial of security clearances normally leaves national security whistleblowers completely vulnerable to retaliation.  This decision highlights how a decision to withhold security clearance can have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with unlawful retaliation,” Kohn added.

A copy of the decision is attached here

 

 

Link to original:  http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=904&Itemid=71

National Whistleblowers Center
3238 P Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
http://www.whistleblowers.org

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:  
Michael  Kohn      (202) 342-6980
Lindsey Williams  (202) 342-1903

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Army Corps Backs Down on Censorship

 

Washington, D.C. May 22, 2009.   The Army Corps of Engineers’ attempt to censor Bunnatine (Bunny) H. Greenhouse has backfired.  Within hours of testifying before Congress on May 14, 2009, Greenhouse was sent orders via email that she could no longer testify without first obtaining prior clearance and approval from her chain of command.  The email, which contained orders originating with the Army Corps’ Chief of Staff, unequivocally stated: “Regardless of the specifics of any hearing, these [censorship] requirements do not change and are HQ direction for all.”   The National Whistleblowers Center sent a formal protest to the White House on behalf of Greenhouse and asked the public to send letters to the President.   Yesterday evening at 5:58 pm, Greenhouse was again emailed, this time advising that she did not have to comply with the censorship requirements.  

“This in an important victory.  Federal works have a right to tell Congress what’s on their mind without having to face government censorship” said Michael Kohn, President of the National Whistleblowers Center and attorney for Ms. Greenhouse.  “The White House listened, this is a victory of the people and by the people” said Kohn, adding “it’s time the White House lived up to its campaign promise to provide meaningful whistleblower protection to federal employees as only a jury trial can.”  According to Kohn “American heroes, like Bunny Greenhouse, deserve a day in court and the right to be able to tell a jury of their peers what’s really going on behind the closed doors of government.”

This was not the first time the Army Corps attempted to censor Greenhouse.  When Greenhouse was scheduled to testify before a Congressional Committee during the Bush Administration, the Army Corps’ then acting General Counsel personally advised Greenhouse it would not be in her best interest to do so, and she was swiftly removed as the Army Corps’ Procurement Executive when she ignored that warning.   

Letter to President Obama – May 18, 2009
Letter from Bunnatine Greenhouse to the American People – May 19, 2009

Dear Friends,

As you may remember, we fell just short of obtaining whistleblower protection for all federal employees in the stimulus legislation.  In my last letter I explained that Americans would need to work together to make meaningful whistleblower protection a reality.  Now is your opportunity to join me!I will once again be going to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress.  I will be testifying in my personal capacity tomorrow, May 14th, in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 
I will be explaining how whistleblower protection is essential to deter contractor fraud and wasteful military spending.   The first time I testified before Congress I was stripped of my position in the Army Corp of Engineers’ Senior Executive Service, as the Procurement Executive.  However, I am going to testify again.  I made this decision because I strongly believe that all employees who report improprieties and waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars should be protected from retaliation.  I am doing everything I can to persuade Congress that whistleblowers deserve protection, but I cannot do it alone! 
Please contact Congress and tell them that true oversight and accountability that this nation and the world needs now cannot exist without protection for all federal employees.  I trust that you will pass this letter on to your friends, coworkers, and community groups to let them know that now is the time to act to protect all federal employees.For 30 years, federal agencies have successfully lobbied against protecting federal employee whistleblowers.  We need to make sure that they are not successful this time! As President Obama said, “We can do it!”
So please contact President Obama and tell him not to be pushed by the agency bureaucrats who are hostile to change and want to leave federal employees unprotected.Together we can win this fight!  Please act now and forward this letter to your friends and family! If you are in the area, you can attend the public hearing tomorrow, May 14th at 10 AM in Rayburn House Office Building Room 2154.  Thank you in advance for your support.        
Very Truly Yours,
Bunnatine H. GreenhouseFormer Procurement Executive
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

 
Dear Action Alert Member:
 
My name is Bunny Greenhouse.  I am the former Procurement Executive and highest-ranking Army Corps of Engineers civilian procurement official. 

Today I am asking you to contact your Senators and Representatives to demand, in the strongest possible terms, that employees who disclose fraud in federal contracting are fully and properly protected in the 800 billion dollar stimulus package that Congress is currently debating.  Here’s why.

Shortly before the Iraq War commenced, I blew the whistle on the award of a multi-billion dollar, no-bid, cost plus contract to Halliburton/ KBR for the “Reconstruction of Iraq.”

I was concerned that improper contracting activity would cost the taxpayers billions – and it did.  The contact should not have been awarded.   But Vice President Cheney was the former President of Halliburton, and from an inside prospective it appeared to me that the fix was in. 

Those who should have protested the contract remained silent.  And their silence is not surprising because, as federal employees, we have no meaningful whistleblower protection!   We can be fired for reporting fraud.  We can lose our careers simply for doing our job and trying to protect the taxpayer. 

I know this is true.  It happened to me.  The top brass demanded that I drop my protests.  I refused.   The top brass – many of whom had longstanding relations with government contractors – slammed me. 

I was thrown out of my job and removed from anything having to do with contract oversight.  When I went to federal court to demand protection as a whistleblower the judge dismissed my case because as a federal employee I had no protection.

The bottom line is that without access to independent courts, real judges and juries, whistleblowers don’t stand a chance.

Only Congress can fix this. The House of Representatives has already acted decisively by adding H.R. 985 to the stimulus bill, by a unanimous voice vote (now called H.R. 1, Section IV).   President Obama’s presidential campaign is on record as supporting the same whistleblower protections now found in House version of the stimulus bill. 

So, the buck stops with the Senate.  I urge you to contact your Senators and let them know that whistleblower protection is an important part of the stimulus package.  I urge you to contact your Representatives and tell them to hold strong — and refuse to cut whistleblower protections from the Bill.  Federal employees, like me, who risk their careers to protect taxpayer money need to be protected.

Please act now!  Pass this letter to your friends!  Pass this letter to your co-workers!  Pass this letter to your familySend a letter to your Senator Now!

Billions of taxpayer dollars are at stake and it is up to the Senate to do the right thing.

Very truly yours,
 

Bunnatine H. Greenhouse
Former Procurement Executive
Army Corps of Engineers

The Fight for Whistleblower Protections is Making Headlines — Thanks to All Supporters!!!

Posted on February 18, 2009 by Marshall Chriswell

Link to Original:  http://www.whistleblowersblog.org/2009/02/articles/whistleblowers-government-empl/the-fight-for-whistleblower-protections-is-making-headlines-thanks-to-all-supporters/index.html

 

As you know, we have been waging an intense campaign for new whistleblower protection laws. We have experienced recent victories and setbacks. And now, prominent whistleblowers like Bunny Greenhouse are calling us all to action. Throughout this campaign, our staff has been incredibly impressed with the level of support shown by our blog readers, facebook users, and all other online grassroots supporters. We have sent thousands of letters to Congress and we are achieving real change!!! 

This groundswell of support is driving a national conversation about whistleblower rights, which is evidenced by the fact that the national news media is paying very close attention to these recent developments. Just today, there are two stories in the Washington Post detailing the struggle for whistleblower protections for federal employees, and especially national security whistleblowers. See the links below for the articles.

 

“Advocates Determined to See Whistleblower Protections Pass”

“Obama, Gates at Odds Over New Whistleblower Protections”

Tags: Bunny Greenhouse, Government Whistleblowers, National Security, congress, national security whistleblowers, washington post, whistleblower laws, whistleblower protections

 

 

Update From Bunny Greenhouse:

Fight For Whistleblower Protection Continues!

 

 

Dear Friends,

As you may have heard, whistleblower protection for federal employees was stripped from the final version of the stimulus bill during closed-door meetings.  Like you, I was distraught that Congress missed this historic opportunity, but then I realized we have taken a giant step forward in the fight to obtain whistleblower protection for all federal employees.

The House of Representative strongly backed the whistleblower amendment. We now know where the problem lies.  We know where we need to focus our efforts.  As a nation, we must educate our friends on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs.  We need to explain why all federal employees must have access to federal court and a jury trial.

Even though the amendment was not included in the final stimulus bill, the progress we made was worth the effort.   Strong protections for private sector and state and local officials did make it into the law.  That’s a major partial victory.   

We can’t lose this momentum!  We can achieve protection for all whistleblowers – including federal employees.  

We need to continue to use our collective voice to achieve true oversight and accountability. We know the only way to accomplish this is to reach out to Americans at the grassroots level.  Those of you from Louisiana to Maine, who have supported me, and other whistleblowers like me, must come together to spread the word.  

We need accountability and oversight!  We need to protect the taxpayers from waste, fraud and abuse!  We need to detect those who commit fraud and bring them to justice!  We need to protect every federal employee who has the courage to challenge favoritism and corruption in federal contracting!

We are so close!  We know that a majority of Senators would support strong whistleblower protections if they were allowed to vote on it.  We need to get it to a vote! This is the closest we have come to full whistleblower protections for federal employees in over 30 years and we cannot let one set back slow us down.  My faith in the power of the American people to stand united and demand that their leaders “do the right thing,” despite overwhelming pressure from special interests, is unyielding.

The hardworking people at the National Whistleblowers Center have put together a new petition addressed at the Senate committee that needs to take immediate action to protect federal employees.  I know many of you signed the earlier petition, but I ask you to sign this new petition now and then pass it on to your friends and family.  

The outpouring of love and support that I have received from all across America has given me encouragement through the tough times in my life and has made all my sacrifices worthwhile. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done.

Thanks again for all that you will do!

THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE MUST GO ON!

 

 

Very truly yours,

 

 

 

Bunnatine H. Greenhouse
Former Procurement Executive
Army Corps of Engineers

 

 

 

 

Former Federal Procurement Exec Highlights Need for
Whistleblower Protection in Stimulus Bill

 

Washington, D.C. February 9, 2009.  Bunnatine (“Bunny”) H. Greenhouse, the highest ranking procurement official to oppose the no-bid, cost plus contracts to Halliburton for the  reconstruction of Iraq, weighed in on the need for Congress to include real whistlebower protections as part of the stimulus-bailout bill (read her letter).

Ms. Greenhouse explained why strong whistleblower protection is essential to the stimulus bill: “Those who should have protested [awarding the Halliburton] contract remained silent.  And their silence is not surprising because, as federal employees, we have no meaningful whistleblower protection!   We can be fired for reporting fraud.  We can lose our careers simply for doing our job and trying to protect the taxpayer.”

After blowing the whistle on the government’s failure to properly award multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts as the Iraq war was about to start, Ms. Greenhouse was removed from her position.  Under existing law, she has no right to a jury trial and is barred from bring her whistleblower claims before a federal court.   The Platts-Van Hollen amendment to the stimulus bill (Section IV of H.R. 1) corrects these legal deficiencies and would provide whistleblower rights to federal employees who object to “waste, fraud and abuse” in federal contracting.  

Ms. Greenhouse, the former top civilian contracting official for the Army Corps of Engineers, stated, “The bottom line is that without access to independent courts, real judges and juries, whistleblowers don’t stand a chance, and fairness and transparency will not see the light day.”   She is asking fellow Americans to contact their elected representatives and demand strong and effective whistleblower protections for federal workers in order to ensure that fraud in stimulus spending can be detected.

Recently the distinguished auditing firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, concluded that strong whistleblower protection is critical to halting financial fraud.  “Respected corporate auditors have recognized that insider disclosure is critical to ferreting out fraud. The weaker the protections, the greater the fraud. Federal employees have the worst whistleblower protection imaginable and unless stronger whistleblower protections are included in the stimulus bill an awful lot of federal tax payer dollars will be flushed down the toilet,” said Michael D. Kohn, General Counsel National Whistleblowers Center and Bunny Greenhouse’s attorney.

Greenhouse’s case received widespread national and international attention because she was the first and high-ranking government official to publicly expose problems with the Bush Administration’s Iraq war-contracting practices.  When the Rumsfeld Defense Department stripped her of all contracting duties, major Congressional leaders protested, including former Congressman Rahm Emanuel and Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee Senator Byron Dorgan.

In a 2008 book, the PBS produces for the respected TV show “NOW” described Greenhouse as a “cogent whistleblower” who “believes that good government requires a certain amount of transparency, and that corruption is best deterred by accountability.”

The Greenhouse Letter
Spotlight on Bunny Greenhouse
Washington Post Feature on Greenhouse