The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tom Devine,, (202) 457-0034, ext. 124
Shanna Devine,, (202) 457-0034, ext. 132


Taxpayer Dollars Fund Retaliatory Investigations: Report Shows Tactics Used to Muzzle Federal Employees


A new report from the Government Accountability Project (GAP) exposes illegal tactics widely used by federal authorities to muzzle employees who call attention to security lapses, dangers to the public, and abuses of power within their agencies. In a series of case studies, Whistleblower Witch Hunts documents the experiences of 12 federal employees who were subjected to a variety of retaliatory actions, including unjustified investigations. The investigations were designed to divert attention from the whistleblowers' allegations by treating the employees themselves as if they were criminals.

The whistleblowers' cases expose government malfeasance and abuse of power that include:

* Widespread, warrantless domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens' computer and telephone communications;
* Fraudulent certifications for mechanics who vouch for commercial aircraft safety;
* Failure to deliver vital troop safety equipment in order to help rival defense contractors. Consequences of this failure include the loss of up to one-third of all combat fatalities for American soldiers in Iraq;
* Attempted cancellation of all Federal Air Marshal coverage during a confirmed terrorist plan;
* Losing track of a kilogram of toxic plutonium, used to build nuclear or 'dirty' bombs;
* Failure by the Air Force to inspect maintenance concerns with intelligence and cargo aircraft, which could lead to mechanical failures that endanger servicemen's lives, delay critical missions, and cause national security breaches; and
* Wrongful diversion of funds reserved to treat 400,000 veterans for traumatic brain injuries

The report can be found here:

"On paper, the Whistleblower Protection Act passed by Congress in 1989 offered free-speech protection to federal employees. But the law turned out to be a paper tiger," says GAP Legal Director Tom Devine, explaining that whistleblowers have less than a one percent chance of overturning reprisals.

GAP's report highlights the urgency of enacting a new, working federal whistleblower law, starting with rights against retaliatory investigations. These actions simply seek to discredit, or at least obfuscate, evidence by shifting attention to the whistleblower, sometimes with "chain witch hunts" that never lead to charges.

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which would update and strengthen the 1989 law, is pending passage in both the Senate (S. 372) and the House (H.R. 1507). It is supported by President Obama and by more than 400 taxpayer, environmental, science, consumer, faith-based, civil rights and transparency groups that span the ideological spectrum.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.