It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s… Robert MacLean?
That’s right. GAP client and TSA whistleblower Robert MacLean was being celebrated as a hero yesterday in local Nashville news. While it would, at first glance, make sense for MacLean to be celebrated for his important disclosures, this story actually involves a feat of more physical derring-do.
A roofing contractor, MacLean was analyzing houses for hail damage when he noticed a suspicious character lurking in the neighborhood this past Tuesday. He had another contractor call the police, who arrived shortly thereafter. After the police asked the suspect to produce an ID, the suspect shoved an officer and attempted to run away.
Except that MacLean got in his way.
MacLean tackled the suspect from behind and held him down until the police arrested him. The suspect has since been charged with disorderly conduct.
MacLean is not new to taking down bad guys. He is a former Federal Air Marshal who revealed that the TSA was planning to cut down costs by removing Air Marshals from flights. After this disclosure, a number of Senators called on the agency to rectify the situation (and they did).
It did not go so smoothly for MacLean, however. Three years after blowing the whistle, TSA retroactively marked his disclosures as “Sensitive Security Information” – an unclassified “hybrid secrecy” label at best – and used that classification to retaliate against MacLean. He was subsequently fired.
MacLean filed a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board (a government board tasked with protecting whistleblowers), who sided with TSA. He now has one more chance to appeal the ruling.
MacLean had an unblemished record of 14 years of military and federal service before he was fired. (See what I mean about taking down bad guys?) Additionally, his disclosure helped draw public scrutiny and congressional outrage to TSA's ill-conceived plan, which was rapidly scrapped. And yet he paid for it with his job.
Why isn’t he a hero for this too?
If you, too, see the injustice in this, sign our petition to support his appeal efforts!
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.