Tag Archive: Federal Whistleblowers


I recently received an article titled “Obama Faces Legacy of Lawlessness at Justice” by Daphne Eviatar, The Washington Independent.  This article is a must read for anyone who has noted the increasingly lack of vigor in the Justice Department and the malfeasance demonstrated in meeting the missions of the various agencies and departments.  The anonymous federal government investigator who sent it to me gave me permission to pass his comments along to interested readers.  He stated:

 

G. Florence-

 

Excellent article about Lawlessness at Justice.  Many politicians have talked, and talked and talked for the past eight years about the injustices of the Bush administration.  And, dare I say almost all, have backed away from any meaningful confrontation with the Bush Administration. 

 

We all know the story and the legacy of the corruption rampant throughout Bush’s administration.  Some of us have experienced it firsthand!  For those of us that have, our lives and careers have been trampled upon.  For those of us approaching retirement age, there will be no recouping from that damage – the damage is done, and we will continue to suffer into retirement through lost jobs, lost promotions, lost opportunities, lost wages and lost retirements.  For those of us that have served under and been punished under the Bush administration – enough talk by politicians!  We need to see some justice and some action by those politicians supposedly serving the people of this great nation. 

 

How does this new administration propose to extricate the damage and toll to those public servants and people’s lives and careers that have been destroyed by the Bush administration?

 

There are many federal employees who feel the same.  I hear from some of them due to my blogs for and about whistleblowers (or those who are labeled whistleblowers for trying to ethically do the jobs they were hired to do).  You have never heard of most of these people.  And the majority you probably never will hear about.  Few whistleblower situations actually are made public in the media.  And unless you know one very well, personally, few federal employees or whistleblowers will volunteer the details of their personal nightmare, for fear of more retribution or loss of job, career and retirement.  For that reason, the majority of whistleblowers or would-be whistleblowers, though they lurk about websites that post information of interest and use to them, do not ever leave comments, even anonymously.  And due to the many challenges to any kind of privacy online and over land and wireless communications systems as a part of increased “spying” on the American Public that the past eight years has brought about, I do not blame them.   The extreme corruption, excesses and greed exhibited by members and associates of the Bush Administration are leaving our government at an all time low.  It will not be a clear field for the new administration.  Even now, just days before the change of administrations, the outgoing one seeks to hobble the incoming one. 

 

So this will be a major challenge for the new Obama-Biden administration.  There are a large number of predominantly silent people out there watching and waiting to see what will be done to establish a system which respects those who try to stand up to wrong doing, those who feel integrity is an important part of the oath they took when beginning the adventure that was to be their career federal job, those who hold their responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution and laws above all else.  Who will stand up for these courageous federal employees who serve as prosecuting attorneys, investigators, security specialists, contracting officers, and all manner of oversight of government business as well as of contracting of companies to the federal government?  How and when will full protections and rights be firmly put into place which will allow them safety and dignity as they do their jobs without fear of retribution and destruction of their careers and lives?  -GFS

 

 

 

 

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POGO Releases Report on Federal Air Marshal

Problems with the Office of Special Counsel

 

 

 

November 25, 2008

 

 

Today the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is releasing a report, Breaking the Sound Barrier: Experiences of Air Marshals Confirm Need for Reform at the OSC, recommending to the incoming Administration a major overhaul of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). 

 

This investigative report seeks not only to set the record straight on former Special Counsel Bloch’s actual accomplishments, but also to provide lessons learned for the next Special Counsel. As a case study, POGO focused on the OSC’s handling of federal air marshal cases for two reasons: President Bush has pointed to the critical role in homeland security played by air marshals, and Bloch himself has touted his work with air marshals as evidence of the success of his tenure. 

 

POGO decided to investigate.

 

In addition to POGO’s recommended reforms of the OSC, POGO is also calling upon the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) to foster an organizational culture where employees are not only encouraged by management to express safety concerns, but in which they are protected when they do so.

 

“As many of us travel for Thanksgiving, we should remember the federal air marshals upon whom we are relying to keep us safe. We have not kept up our end of the bargain. When they blew the whistle on misconduct, there was no one keeping them safe from retaliation. Air marshals deserve a system that both listens to their concerns and protects them, the way they are protecting us,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director, POGO.

 

Despite contacting almost a dozen current and former air marshals who blew the whistle, POGO could not identify one instance where the OSC upheld its responsibility to provide a secure whistleblower disclosure channel for the resolution of workplace improprieties, to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, and to hold accountable those responsible for whistleblower retaliation.

 

“The POGO report describes in great detail what actually happens to federal air marshals when they do come forward to root out misconduct and criminal behavior –– they are retaliated against, and in most cases terminated,” P. Jeffrey Black, a Federal Air Marshal from the Las Vegas field office. 

 

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.

 

 

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See Original Article Here:

http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/alerts/homeland-security/hs-aviation-20081125.html

 

 

Whistleblower Office Fails to

Protect Federal Air Marshals

 

 

 

By Michael Grabell

 

November 25, 2008 – 7:00 a.m. EST

 

After a ProPublica investigation found that dozens of air marshals have been charged with crimes, the director of the Air Marshal Service sent an agency-wide e-mail stating, “We must dedicate ourselves to root out and report any instance of misconduct or criminal behavior.”

 

But a new report being released today (Tuesday, Nov. 25) by a government watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight, (POGO) says that current and former air marshals have been shut out and retaliated against when they tried to report problems to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency that protects whistleblowers.

 

“The POGO report describes in great detail what actually happens to federal air marshals when they do come forward to root out misconduct and criminal behavior,” said P. Jeffrey Black, a Las Vegas air marshal and whistleblower. After he testified before Congress in 2004 about security breaches, Black says the air marshal service launched an investigation into whether he released sensitive security information.

 

Air marshal spokesman Greg Alter said his agency had not yet reviewed the POGO report. In an e-mailed statement, he said the agency has “zero tolerance” for retaliation.

 

“Any Federal Air Marshal Service employee who in good faith reports waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement or a violation of law or agency policy shall not be subjected to any form of harassment, adverse employment consequences or other form of retaliation,” he said.

 

The Office of Special Counsel is supposed to be a refuge for government whistleblowers — a place where complaints of corruption, abuses of power and security lapses are aired and exposed. POGO cited interviews with nearly a dozen current and former air marshals to assert that the agency has closed cases without investigating and failed to shield whistleblowers from retaliation.

 

The report places much of the blame on Special Counsel Scott Bloch.

 

Bloch went on administrative leave in October, five months after the FBI raided his home and office as part of an investigation into obstruction of justice. One of the accusations is that Bloch hired Geeks on Call (instead of the agency’s computer technicians) to perform a “seven-level wipe” and erase all the files on his office computer. Bloch has said he was trying to get rid of a virus.

 

In his resignation letter, Bloch quoted the Greek poet Sophocles in saying, “No one likes the bearer of bad news.” Bloch highlighted the office’s achievements exposing airline inspection problemsair traffic control cover-ups and defective New Orleans levee pumps

 

He also has cited his success in protecting air marshals.

 

POGO decided to have a look-see and found that several air marshals felt the special counsel hadn’t helped. In some cases described in the report, the office did follow-up, but the whistleblowers weren’t satisfied with the extent of the investigation or the result. 

 

In others, air marshals said the office stood by while they were harassed, disciplined or fired.

 

The report cites the case of one air marshal who took a photograph of a suspicious individual at an airport in August 2004. He pressed his supervisors to forward the photo to the FBI for further investigation. After they didn’t, he complained to Bloch’s office in March 2005.

 

As the air marshal waited for OSC to start investigating, the report says, he was subjected to hostility at work, including several attempts to fire him. The OSC completed its investigation in February 2007 and decided not to take any action, according to the report.

 

The air marshal was fired three months later after the service discovered he had obtained a fake degree from a diploma mill, although he never used it when he applied to become an air marshal.

 

POGO says such cases discouraged other air marshals.

 

“The horror stories from everybody else’” convinced air marshal Spencer Pickard to go to ABC News in 2006 with concerns about the air marshals’ dress code rather, than complain to the special counsel, the POGO report says. After Pickard and others argued that mandatory business attire blew their cover, Congress investigated and the service relaxed the dress rules.

 

Pickard, who is no longer an air marshal, was placed on administrative leave a few weeks after speaking out.

 

Bloch’s attorney, Paul Orfanedes, said POGO has an ax to grind. In 2005, the group joined a whistleblower complaint alleging that Bloch had retaliated against his own employees, which Bloch’s attorney denies.

 

“I think he is very proud of his work with the Air Marshal Service and in doing what really the law allows the OSC to do, which sometimes isn’t enough for advocacy organizations,” said Orfanedes, who has represented whistleblowers. “There’s always a fair amount of unrealistic expectations of what the law allows and, therefore, dissatisfaction with the result.”

 

OSC spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the office didn’t want to dwell on the past and is focused on getting prepared for the next administration.

 

“Look forward to tomorrow,” he said. “Yesterday’s gone.”

 

 

 

To Download the POGO Report

 

>>> CLICK HERE <<<

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Original Article Here:

http://www.propublica.org/article/report-whistleblower-office-fails-to-protect-air-marshals-1125

 

 

OSC Watch <www.oscwatch. org> is focused on
exposing and stopping systemic and persistent
lawbreaking in US Office of Special Counsel
(OSC). OSC Watch contends that OSC, since at
least 1989, has fundamentally failed to comply
with its most important nondiscretionary duty to
enforce the civil service laws, rules, and
regulations under its (frequently sole)
jurisdiction. OSC Watch contends that OSC, in
investigating about 30,000 complaints since 1989
of violations of law, rule, or regulation under
its jurisdiction, has failed to investigate the
complaint, determine whether there is reasonable
cause to believe violations occurred, and, if so,
to report them to the involved agency head, per 5
U.S.C. 1214(e), and create a permanent, public
record of its report and the agency response, per 5 U.S.C. 1219.

OSC, contrary to the clear wording of the law,
its legislative history, and a final decision of
a federal court – all of which state that 5
U.S.C. 1214(e) applies to ANY law, rule, or
regulations, including those within OSC’s
jurisdiction, still openly holds to its
self-nullifying interpretation of the law it is
charged to implement, that it does not apply to
laws, rules, or regulations under its jurisdiction.

OSC is the “immune system” of the Executive
Branch agencies – it has jurisdiction for the
laws, rules, and regulations that uphold the
merit principles of the federal civil service,
particularly to prevent agency retribution
against concerned federal employees. Because it
has nullified the law – 5. U.S.C. 1214(e) – that
is the heart of its obligations to do so, by its
untenable claim that it does not apply to the
laws, rules, and regulations under its
jurisdiction, OSC is a broken “immune
system.” As a result, the merit principles of
the federal civil service are battered, much
corruption and dysfunction in many federal
workplaces has taken root and flourished, leading
to violations of laws, rules, and regulations not
under OSC’s jurisdiction in those agencies, such
as the possible politically motivated prosecutions at Department of Justice.

OSC Watch has been in contact with Alabama Gov.
Siegelman, “Exhibit A” of possibly politically
motivated prosecutions by the Department of
Justice, and the House Judiciary Committee about
its concerns that OSC’s lawbreaking, resulting
from its interpretation of 5 U.S.C. 1214(e), is a
significant part of the context in which the
abuses in the Department of Justice occurred.

The following recent press release of the House
Judiciary Committee is relevant to OSC Watch’s
concerns that OSC’s fundamental failure to
implement the law to enforce the laws under its
jurisdiction has contributed to corruption in the Department of Justice.

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

U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jonathan Godfrey
http://judiciary. house.gov/ newscenter. aspx?A=955

April 17, 2008
Melanie Roussell

(Washington, DC)- Today, House Judiciary
Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and
Committee Members Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Artur
Davis (D-AL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced
three critical actions in the Committee’s
investigation into allegations of selective or
poltiically- motivated prosecution in the Justice
Department. The Members today invited Karl Rove
to testify before the committee; urged the
Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector
General and Office of Professional Responsibility
to investigate those allegations; and demanded
that Attorney General Michael Mukasey provide
additional documents on this subject.

Today’s actions result from the Committee’s
majority staff report, also released today, which
details the cases, interviews and documents they
have reviewed since the Committee began its investigation last year.

“There continue to be numerous complaints of
selective or politically motivated prosecution
since our investigation began last year,” Conyers
said. “The actions we are taking today, including
calling Karl Rove to testify, are an effort to
get to the bottom of this matter.”

Today’s announcement stems from the Committee’s
2007 oversight hearing on selective prosecution,
during which testimony was heard and documents
were entered into the record regarding cases from
Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Georgia, and
Pennsylvania. Since the hearing, majority
committee staff has continued its investigation
with interviews and document collection about
additional cases across the country.

“While this report is extensive and significant
progress has been made in our investigation, many
facts remain unknown,” Conyers said. “The Justice
Department has simply not been forthcoming and I
feel the only way to move this investigation
forward is to seek further independent
investigation and testimony from Karl Rove, who
appears to be the missing link in a chain from
the White House to the Justice Department.”

The letters and the majority staff report are
available at <http://judiciary. house.gov/ Printshop. aspx?Section= 833>.

##110-JUD-041708# #