Tag Archive: Congress


 

This article by Shanna Devine is excellently written and right spot on.  This is exactly what federal employees, in fact a growing number of federal employees have been experiencing.  Few ever seem to get real justice and are made whole again. 

One huge problem is security classification creep.  I am referring to when certain people purposefully misclassify something in order to hide it, as they know it will get them into trouble or mess up their business practices if it is discovered.  They try to keep these things secret by putting them behind the curtain.  During the past decade, it seems many with authority to affect this kind of behind the scenes change in policy were using the claim of “National Security” to hide many things, including illegal activities committed by themselves, their cronies in the government, or their cronies in industry, including defense contractors.  (Sometimes the wrongdoing was done in collusion between all of them.)  This has corrupted the whole meaning and implementation of  “classified.”  While there are things that truly are classified for good reason and are necessary to keep out of public view for real and legitimate national security concerns, there are many things which have been abominations which need to be identified and formally outted, taking the greedy and unethical wrongdoers who used such improper classifying of these things to hide theft, fraud, bribery, etc. into custody and begin prosecution.  GFS

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The Birmingham News – Congress Should Protect National Security Whistleblowers

 

The following op-ed was written by GAP Legislative Officer Shanna Devine and was published in Alice Echo News (TX), Daily Sun News (WA), and Madison Capital Times.

What makes America safe? This fundamental question lays at the heart of current Congressional debate over whether national security employees who expose wrongdoing should have the right to fight against retaliation.

Some in Congress believe that protecting national security whistleblowers translates to an eventual dangerous dissemination of classified information. This is fear mongering. The efforts of past intelligence whistleblowers have increased our safety when government managers are missing in action.

If you look at these employees who have been fired or harassed, you do not find people who sought to reveal state secrets. Instead, you meet patriots trying to do their jobs protecting the public by acting as professionals, not bureaucrats.

Richard Barlow had a distinguished CIA career, where he helped the agency find and convict two agents in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development department. Subsequently, he joined the Office of Nonproliferation in the Department of Defense (DoD). In 1989, Barlow then learned that his bosses were misleading Congress by failing to disclose that the planned sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan could potentially help that country deliver nuclear bombs. When he raised those concerns within his agency, he was stripped of his security clearance and labeled a risk. A DoD investigation exonerated him as a threat, but the Pentagon never reinstated his security clearance – successfully destroying his career without any independent appeal rights. Barlow did all he could to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, keep Congress informed, and make the world a safer place. And how was he thanked? To this day he has been denied government pension or health insurance. Pakistan now has its nuclear weapons, but Barlow has yet to get his vindication.

In 2006, 30-year Air Force mechanic George Sarris followed what government posters said was his duty – to contact the Inspector General about bureaucratic misconduct. He challenged maintenance breakdowns for American reconnaissance aircraft over Afghanistan and Iraq. One real risk were potential in-flight fires, caused by not replacing fuel hoses 15 years past expiration. In response, the Air Force IG accused him of committing a crime by “stealing” evidence which they initially demanded he produce to prove his charges. The IG put Sarris under criminal investigation, stripping all job duties by suspending his security clearance. Reassigned to the employee break room, his job was to fill space as an example to others.

Franz Gayl, a retired Marine major, is a civilian Marine Corps Science and Technology Advisor. In 2006, he served in Iraq, where he witnessed over 700 combat fatalities caused by an 18-month delay in providing armored vehicles that withstand roadside bombs. Gayl’s whistleblowing to Congress led to delivery of the mine resistant vehicles, and the unnecessary fatalities ended. However, Marine officials suspended Gayl, took away his key job duties, denied him further training, and placed him under criminal investigation.

These stories, and numerous others, are not just tragedies for the whistleblowers involved. They send a powerful signal to all national security employees: Keep your head down. If you see anything wrong, keep it to yourself.

The climate of fear within our national security agencies is the biggest threat to our national security. As noted FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley observed: “Bureaucratic breakdowns and needless disasters keep recurring, in huge part, because government whistleblowers have been silenced.”

We will never be safe until national security whistleblowers can tell the truth. That cannot happen until Congress gives them normal rights against retaliation, a reform stalled since last year by secret procedural holds that haven’t even been challenged. It is time for the politicians to get serious about protecting those who protect us.

Shanna Devine is Legislative Officer for the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organization based in Washington, D.C.

 
April 30,2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
West Wing
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20502
 
Dear Mr. President,
 
We are writing to bring your attention to and encourage swift action 
on the issue of whistleblower protection for federal employees. 
Whistleblowers are our nation's best resource against fraud and abuse 
of the public trust. Over the years, whistleblowers have repeatedly 
sounded the alarm about fiscal practices that waste tax dollars. In 
the national security realm, whistleblowers have effectively and 
responsibly called attention to security vulnerabilities that 
threaten the lives of U.S. citizens. Moreover, they have worked to 
prevent violations of the constitutional values we all share.
 
In these uncertain economic times, we should encourage courageous 
public servants to continue to report evidence of misconduct on 
behalf of American taxpayers and families. Unfortunately, we cannot 
expect government employees to continue to sacrifice their careers 
and risk their own families' security without signals from your
Administration that they will be protected.
 
As you may know, "legal" victories for employees who have been 
retaliated against for blowing the whistle are almost non-existent. 
We encourage you to support congressional efforts to reform the 
inadequate system of whistleblower protections, such as H.R. 1507, 
introduced this year by Representatives Van Hollen and Platts.
 
In addition to these forward-looking reforms, we encourage you to 
take action to restore the careers of employees who were wrongly 
terminated or marginalized by previous administrations after blowing 
the whistle. Specifically, we recommend the issuance of an Executive 
Order establishing a program to review individual cases, and where 
significant injustice has occurred, to make the employee whole by 
restoring them to government service. The country can undoubtedly 
benefit from the professionalism and expertise of many of the 
employees who were wrongly removed from federal service.
 
While we recognize there will need to be significant fine-tuning of 
this proposal, we recommend the principles endorsed in a letter sent 
to your office on January 16,2009 by the following relevant 
organizations including: The American Federation of Government 
Employees, The Bill of Rights Foundation, The Government 
Accountability Project, The National Taxpayers Union, The National 
Whistleblower Center, Openthegovernment.org, The Project on 
Government Oversight, The Public Employees for Environmental 
Responsibility and The Whistleblower Mentoring Project.
 
This would send a strong signal that there will be zero tolerance for 
whistleblower retaliation in your Administration. In addition, it 
would go a long way in complementing your already-announced Freedom 
of Information Act reforms toward establishing a new, global gold 
standard for accountability and transparency in government.
 
We thank you for considering our suggestions, and look forward to 
working with you on these reforms.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
 
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
 
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
Member of Congress
 
EDOLPHUS TOWNS
Member of Congress
 
KEN CALVERT
Member of Congress
 
TODD RUSSELL PLATTS
Member of Congress
 
BRUCE BRALEY
Member of Congress
 
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS
Member of Congress