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House Joins Senate in Investigating FDA Spying Program
Representative Issa Calls FDA Purpose "Unlawful"
WASHINGTON - February 10 - Representative Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, launched an investigation into the FDA's targeting of whistleblowers for highly intrusive monitoring and computerized searches.
In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Representative Issa said that interfering with an "employee's right to provide information to Congress is unlawful and will not be tolerated." He explained that a government agency can monitor an employee's computer "in pursuit of a lawful purpose," but the FDA's purpose of monitoring in order to retaliate against the whistleblowers was "not lawful."
The House investigation follows Senator Grassley's letter to Commissioner Hamburg last week launching a Senate investigation into whether whistleblowers were singled out for special monitoring based on a letter they wrote to President-Elect Obama's Transition Team.
The House and Senate investigations were sparked by a lawsuit filed by six FDA whistleblowers and documents released by the National Whistleblowers Center that show the FDA intercepted personal communications to Congress, including emails to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Stephen M. Kohn, NWC Executive Director and attorney for six FDA whistleblowers, said:
It is time to clear out the peeping Tom's from the FDA. It is easy to see why Senator Grassley and Representative Issa are up in arms about the FDA's targeted surveillance of whistleblowers. It is encouraging to see that Congress is not letting these FDA whistleblowers go at it alone.
The NWC issued an Action Alert strongly encouraging the public to send emails to the President, FDA officials, and members of Congress demanding that the six whistleblowers be protected and targeted surveillance be halted throughout the federal government.