Office of Special Counsel (OSC), thanks to whistleblowers, uncovered "gross mismanagement" at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, which cares for the United States' war dead, after whistleblower James G. Parson Sr. (an autopsy and embalming technician) and two other whistleblowers reported, among other horrific indignities:The
Misplacing a dead soldier's ankle and another set of remains that had been stored in a plastic bag.
Sawing off a damaged arm bone of a Marine so he could fit in his uniform and coffin, but not telling the family.
Permitting an Army hospital in Germany to ship fetal remains in reused cardboard boxes back to the U.S. for burial instead of in aluminum transfer cases.
Losing or mishandling the remains of four other deceased service members.
Predictably, the Air Force disciplined by did not fire the mortuary commander and two other senior officials. Let's just hope that the whistleblowers are not now prosecuted under the Espionage Act for exposing what is clearly government abuse of the most unholy order.
OSC – a watchdog agency that receives complaints from whistleblowers and protects them against reprisals – was thoroughly bastardized under Bush, and sat without an appointed leader for the first two years of Obama's administration. Luckily, it is now under the helm of the very able Carolyn Lerner and she is rehabilitating the agency at an unfathomable speed.
Not only did the Air Force not fire the mortuary commander and two other mortuary supervisors, but one of these mortuary officials tried to obstruct the investigation by firing a whistleblower. As if getting fired isn't bad enough retaliation against a whistleblower, it is now a precursor to prosecuting the whistleblower under the Espionage Act for embarrassing the administration.
To add insult to injury to horror, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force Chief of Staff, said the Air Force knew about the problems as early as May 2010, but the Air Force waited more than a year (until last weekend) to notify the families because OSC had placed "certain constraints" on the their ability to notify the families. NPR gave truth to the lie, here. My former boss, Mark Cohen, who left GAP to be the deputy special counsel at OSC, called the Air Force's excuse "patently false":
The Air Force has shown as much, if not more, reverence for its image as it has for the families of the fallen.
Jesselyn Radack is National Security and Human Rights Director for the Government Accoutnability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.