Defense Department Oversight Finds More Evidence Of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

from the government-shutdown dept

More evidence has surfaced showing the US government really doesn't care for whistleblowers. A Defense Department Inspector General's report [PDF] obtained by MuckRock contains details of Air Force supervisors turning against a civilian employee who reported time card abuse.

The heavily redacted report, which MuckRock requested following on an announcement in the January newsletter of the Department of Defense Inspector General, found that the supervisor accused the whistleblower of being a mentally unstable drug abuser in addition to revoking his security clearance for the offense of reporting that colleagues were allowed to leave work hours early and lie on their time cards.

After that, things apparently became personal. (Well, they were already personal, what with supervisors accusing the whistleblower of being crazy/on drugs.) The relationship between the employee and his supervisors went from bad to worse to toxic. The report says "several verbal altercations" were noted as the work relationship became "mutually hostile."

The Air Force then pulled some more crap, resulting in another whistleblowing attempt by the same employee. When told not to perform an asbestos test before drilling into walls to install surveillance equipment, the employee bypassed the proper channels (which had already proven useless and retaliatory) and went straight to the Inspector General.

Having been notified of this, the IG dug deeper, uncovering the Air Force's vengeful tactics. In response to the employee's report to the IG, the Air Force supervisor doubled down on his "crazy drug user" claims -- the ones he used in support of having the employee suspended and his security clearances revoked.

The supervisor justified that suspension by telling IG investigators that his subordinate “had difficulty getting along with fellow employees, that employees were afraid of Complainant and locked the office door because of that fear and that he suspected Complainant was using drugs.”

Citation please.

[T]he Inspector General concluded that the supervisor “could not provide any evidence to support these allegations,” and that the clearance revocation was reprisal.

The statement given by the retaliatory supervisor to explain away the lack of documented evidence supporting his "crazy drug user" claims is a joy to read, filled with multiple layers of truly-terrible CYA logic.

When queried as to why he did not document these "bizarre" behaviors in either the December 22, 2011, or April 29, 2012, memo to support Complainant's suspension, [redacted] testified he had been "hamstrung" on documenting anything because Complainant grieved everything that was documented. [Redacted] further testified he believed his chain of command did not want documentation of these things for fear that there would be complaints filed by Complainant. [Redacted] testified he received no support from the Civilian Personnel Office or his chain of command when it came to dealing with Complainant. [Redacted] testified [redacted] told him [redacted] that he had handled the issues regarding Complainant correctly; but he was going to order a CDI [Commander-Directed Investigation] to throw Complainant a bone and so, "maybe Complainant would not file a bunch of IG complaints."

That seems to have worked out well.

Not every whistleblower ends up without a career or investigated by the agency they work for, but far too many face this sort of response when calling out government wrongdoing. Efforts have been made to shore up protections for whistleblowers, but it's illustrative of where these efforts fall short to note that this employee -- a civilian -- would not have been protected by federal whistleblower laws. Perhaps that's why Air Force supervisors felt so comfortable acting in retaliation. The government routinely uses civilian contractors and is under no statutory obligation to behave any better when dealing with their whistleblowing than the Air Force did here.

Filed Under: defense department, dod, inspector general, nsa, proper channels, retaliation, whistleblowers

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2017 @ 12:00pm

    Re: We are missing something here

    that would be funny though wouldn't it...

    the Air Force installs surveillance equipment at a base but the only thing they get in trouble for is not doing the necessary asbestos tests...

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