Summary: The IRS has settled a whistleblower case that accused an agency contractor of mismanagement. The case could impact future cases “involving the rights of employees to use government email to report problems.” The move is yet another sign of the improvement in operations of the Office of Special Counsel since Carolyn Lerner took over.
Key Quote: Tom Devine, legal director for the Government Accountability Project, said the Office of Special Counsel is “establishing a new body of case law for interpreting the WPA.” Lerner is “right on the money to insist that disclosers going through government channels are exempt from qualifiers that restrict public whistleblowing,” such as details affecting national security and privacy.
Summary: The arraignment for Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, will be held at Fort Meade on February 23. Manning will face a full court-martial on 22 counts. If convicted, he could spend life in prison.
Summary: The FDA, accused by whistleblowing employees of monitoring their personal e-mails, admitted to doing so yesterday, stating that it took action to investigate allegations that an employee had leaked confidential information. There has been a congressional inquiry into the monitoring and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R.-Ca) has declared it “unlawful.”
Key Quote: “In this case, the FDA’s purpose was not lawful,” Issa said in his letter. “FDA was not investigating wrongdoing or tracing a security breach. In fact, FDA’s purpose appears to have been unlawful because retaliation against a whistleblower is illegal.”
GAP's Jesselyn Radack comments on this chilling admission here.
Summary: The Inter-American Development bank has a history of shielding certain Argentine firms from public exposure for corrupt or fraudulent practices. GAP’s Bea Edwards explores a specific case with the US and Argentina chapters of Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
Summary: A new site, Honest Appalachia, has been launched as a way for whistleblowers to report anonymously on government and corporate wrongdoing in the Appalachia region.
Key Quote: Dylan Blaylock, a spokesperson at the Government Accountability Project — a non-profit organization for whistleblowers — agreed that Honest Appalachia has a role to fill.“I think there’s wrongdoing at all levels of government,” he said. “For every government, more independent scrutiny will lead to more public change.”
Summary: Peter Van Buren, a State Department whistleblower, chronicles the “campaign against whistleblowers in Washington,” specifically citing the Obama administration’s unprecedented number of Espionage Act prosecutions. However, he does praise the efforts of Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner in trying to reestablish the office’s whistleblower protection credentials. GAP has filed a reprisal complain on Van Buren's behalf.
Key Quote: Specifically, Lerner reassigned staff members to review a backlog of cases against whistleblowers facing reprisals, including “veterans' hospital staff members reporting poor lab procedures [and] air traffic controllers claiming flight-pattern dangers.” She has enforced a 60-day limit on responses from federal agencies. The Office seems to have re-embraced its mission. “She’s a pit bull,” says Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, which defends whistleblowers.
GAP's Jesselyn Radack eplored Van Buren's difficulties as a whistleblower in a recent blog post.
Summary: The Port Angeles Border Patrol station in Washington state has a new agent in charge. In light of recent criticisms – most notably from Border Patrol agent and GAP client Christian Sanchez who called the station an overstaffed “black hole” with “no purpose, no mission” – the new head intends to engage in more “community outreach.”
Summary: While energy companies do not have to disclose the chemicals they use to extract natural gas in the controversial 'fracking' process, a new study chronicles farmer concerns that their crops and livestock have been contaminated as a result. GAP's Food Integrity Campaign has more.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.