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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Report Shows Exactly Why Federal Whistleblowers Need Protection

Shanna Devine, December 01, 2010

Today, GAP released a report on one of the most effective ways to undermine the disclosures of a whistleblower: retaliatory investigations. Whistleblower Witch Hunts follows 12 federal employees into Kafka’s The Trial, as they undergo underhanded tactics that run the gamut of indecency, including:

  • Denying the existence of active but secret investigations;
  • Classifying or restricting information years after the fact, and then imposing ex post facto liability for blowing the whistle with it;
  • Making unsupported accusations of whistleblowers being suicidal, violent or otherwise mentally disturbed, without providing any medical basis;
  • Raiding whistleblowers’ homes and scaring their families, confiscating personal property
  • Enacting blacklisting campaigns for several years

It’s no wonder that retaliatory investigations are used to silence whistleblowers: Framing the messenger kills the message. Unfortunately, this approach ultimately harms the public, the messenger and the agency while whistleblowers’ warnings remain unheeded.

The whistleblowers profiled in this new report exposed national security risks including: the attempted cancellation of all Air Marshal coverage during a confirmed terrorist plan for a more ambitious rerun of 9/11, fraudulent certifications for mechanics who vouch for commercial aircraft safety, and the failure by the Air Force to conduct required inspections and maintenance for over a decade on intelligence and cargo aircraft, which could lead to mechanical failures that endanger servicemen’s lives, delay critical missions, and cause national security breaches.

But it doesn’t stop there. Public safety disclosures detailed in the report include the stonewalling of lifesaving military equipment for U.S. troops and civilians abroad, corrupt diversion of all funds reserved to treat dramatic brain injury for over 400,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and losing track of a significant amount worth of plutonium. Plus, civil liberties abuses spanned the NSA's warrantless domestic surveillance, and the Justice Department’s lying to court about a dress rehearsal for Abu Ghraib tactics on American citizen John Walker Lindh.

Legislation currently pending in Congress, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, empowers whistleblowers to stop retaliation in its initial stage, rather than have to live indefinitely with investigations or dossiers that are used as smoke screens to cloud genuine threats. Click here to sign a petition to demand the Act be passed!

Shanna Devine is Legislative Coordinator for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.