Dissenters’ Digest takes a look back at news stories covering whistleblowers, watchdogs, and government accountability.
Torture is Back in the News: The Government Accountability Project calls for the prosecution of admitted CIA torturer Jose Rodriguez, who recently crowed about destroying 92 video tapes of torture footage in a new book. Separately, Rodriguez alleges in his book that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lied about tacitly approving waterboarding in 2002, according to the Washington Post. Further, UCLA law professor and torture memos author John Yoo is immune from liability in the United States for the torture of Jose Padilla, according to a recent opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Senate Passes the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012: In a rare show of unanimity, the Senate passed S. 743, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the latest attempt to update the Whistleblower Protection Act in 13 years. The last attempt, in December 2010, was defeated by a secret hold in the Senate, according to the Government Accountability Project. Not all are enthused with the bill’s protections, which “fall short of the comprehensive whistleblower law reforms promised in the 2008 political campaign,” notes Stephen Kohn of the National Whistleblowers Center. Now it’s up to the House to pass their version, H.R. 3289, before the two bills can be reconciled and sent to the President’s desk.
OSC Reports the FAA is Slow in Correcting Whistleblower Complaints: In a rare move, the Office of Special Counsel combined seven whistleblower disclosures from FAA employees into one report to the President and the Congress, citing ”an ongoing series of troubling safety disclosures by air traffic controllers and other FAA employees” which have not been rectified by the Department of Transportation. The Special Counsel stated that the “FAA has one of the highest rates of whistleblower filings per employee of any executive branch agency: OSC received 178 whistleblower disclosures from FAA employees since FY 2007, 89 of which related to aviation safety. OSC referred 44 of those to DOT for investigation. DOT ultimately substantiated all but five of those referrals — 89 percent – in whole or in part. In four of the seven cases presented today, the whistleblower had to make repeat disclosures with OSC because the FAA took inadequate steps to correct the concern or failed to implement any corrective action.” The Washington Post has additional coverage.
Federal Judge Strikes Down NDAA’s Indefinite Detention Provision: A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York struck down the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act, saying it constitutes an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment. The suit was brought by several journalists who feared their activities might fall under the reach of the law — substantially supporting al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces – without even knowing it, and facing indefinite detention for many years. The judge, Katherine Forrest, repeatedly offered government lawyers the opportunity to rebut the reporters’ fears, but they declined to do so.
Below the Fold:
- A Malaysian tribunal found George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfel, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington and William J. Haynes guilty of war crimes.
- The Washington Post editorial board calls on the Federal Aviation Administration to take whistleblowers’ complaints seriously.
- The ACLU is weighing in on behalf of Peter Van Buren, the State Department whistleblower who wrote a book and blog critical of his employer’s exploits in Iraq.
- A Homeland Security House subcommittee looks at corruption inside DHS.
- Employees at a nuclear waste site in Washington state are coming forward, saying too many shortcuts are being taken in the construction of a facility to dispose the waste.
- An FBI crime lab whistleblower’s 20 year campaign to expose and correct violations of defendants’ due process rights is beginning to bear fruit.
- House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa is alleging the Federal Maritime Commission may be “an agency in crisis.”
- Union protectionism in 1994 may haunt whistleblowers and the Office of Special Counsel in 2012.
- Several whistleblowers and advocacy groups will host an annual conference in Washington, D.C., May 21-23.
- An internal Pentagon report claims the DoD left whistleblowers vulnerable to reprisal.
- Two F-22 pilots who refuse to fly the aircraft appeared on 60 minutes, claiming a malfunction causes oxygen deprivation aloft.
- The above notwithstanding, the Air Force is in the process of disciplining the F-22 pilots. Congress is expressing concern.
- An EPA scientist who lost her job after blowing the whistle on health dangers to 9/11 first responders prevailed at the Merit Systems Protection Board and will be reinstated.
- The media is silent when the Obama Administration goes after whistleblowers.
- An employment lawyer looks at the fuzzy definition of “gross waste of funds.”
- Thomas Drake speaks with Eliot Spitzer about the DOJ being used to cover up crimes of the Bush and Obama Administrations.
- The FBI is the most effective lobbyist against whistleblower protections, according to a radio interview with National Whistleblowers Center Executive Director Stephen Kohn.
- Former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary will file a whistleblower suit against the university over its handling of the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal.
- The Fourth Circuit revives claims by former Iraqi detainees against contractors who are alleged to have tortured them.
- The Administrative Conference of the United States is teaming up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on regulatory reform. The Center for Progressive Reform objects.
- FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds overcomes FBI pre-approval for the publication of her book criticizing the FBI over 9/11 missteps.
- EPA whistleblower William Sanjour looks at why agencies fail to regulate properly, and offers prescriptive advice.
- The Department of Health and Human Services is in violation of the No FEAR Act of 2002, and has been since 2002, according to a recent Freedom of Information Act response.
- A federal court in New Orleans will preliminarily approve the $7.8 billion settlement with victims of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill.
- House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is preparing a contempt of Congress charge against Attorney Eric Holder over the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal.
- The Drug Enforcement Administration leaves a college student in a jail cell for five days without food or water.
- The Make It Safe Campaign, an umbrella group of whistleblower and government accountability advocates, is considering enfranchisement and open-process reforms following a general meeting last Tuesday.