On December 7, 2010, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) publicly released its September 2010, “white paper” on whistleblowers. “Whistleblowers” is the term used to describe Federal employees who “blow the whistle” to warn about official corruption and abuses of power within the government. Entitled “Whistleblower Protections for Federal Employees,” it begins with the following highlighted statement:
“Often the whistleblower’s reward for dedication to the highest moral principles is harassment and abuse. Whistleblowers frequently encounter severe damage to their careers and substantial economic loss.”
The report goes on to explain that the MSPB’s Commissioners (Susan Tsui Grundmann, Anne M. Wagner and Mary R. Rose) are struggling to do all they can to protect conscientious U.S. Government employees who are being retaliated against by Obama Administration officials, but they are limited as to what they can do.
In America, when ethical citizens seek to promote honest government, corrupt officials and Administrations can misuse the law to deny citizens their employment, their reputation, their privacy and even their liberty. This is not a new phenomenon within the Obama Administrations, as it has elected to continue the reprisal programs of its predecessors.
America’s fourth President, James Madison, who authored much of the U.S. Constitution, once wrote:
“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
The irony for the Obama Administration is that its repression of honest employees who report official corruption forces them and other would-be whistleblowers onto one of two paths:
1. Path One: They are cowed into silence, thus permitting government corruption to continue. This includes the continuing diversion and mismanagement of U.S. foreign aid funds.
2. Path Two: Whistleblowers are forced outside of the U.S. Government and pushed into the arms of groups such as WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks simply would not exist if the Obama Administration functioned transparently, protected ethical employees and held accountable those who abuse their authority.
The MSPB’s Commissioners do not dare to openly accuse President Obama of sanctioning this reprisal campaign against dissenters. Instead, they elected in their report to merely confirm that there is a permissive environment within the Obama Administration towards repression of moral and righteous employees, and that the Commissioners can neither prevent the abuse nor protect the victims. The reader is left to ponder why President Obama has refused to act.
President Obama has the authority to issue what is called an “Executive Order.” By issuing such an Order so he could end whistleblower retaliation overnight. A strongly worded and vigorously enforced Executive Order would promote open and honest government, and protect courageous employees who uncover government corruption, but President Obama has refused to issue such an Order. The only conclusion one can draw is that the current campaign of repression has his blessing.
One indication of President Obama’s position was set out in his March 11, 2009, “signing statement” to House Bill 1105. The U.S. Congress enacted a new law in response to a scandal at the U.S. Department of State. The State Department had retaliated against two of its officials (John DeDona and Ralph McNamara) who had informed Congress of corruption within the Department. The new law stated that no appropriated funds could be used to pay the salaries of Executive Branch officials who block Federal employees from communicating with Congress. President Obama, in his signing statement, proclaimed that he was not necessarily bound by the law and listed three vague and potentially broad situations under which he might not obey it.
The signing statement, coupled with President Obama’s refusal (after two years in office) to issue an Executive Order protecting whistleblowers, gives at least unofficial sanction to Federal officials to continue their repression campaign against dissenters and against Federal employees promoting honest government.
Barack Obama, when campaigning three years ago for President, publicly condemned those in government who abused their authority; he pledged to be better than that.
FOR FURTHER READING:
CNN: April 3, 2009 - “Whistle-blower: FAA Boss Threatens Career”
New York Times: August 18, 2004 - “Whistleblower Threatened”
MotherJones.com: October 5, 2007 - “An Uncertain Fate for the
Whistleblowers Who Took on State Department’s Inspector General.”
www.mspb.gov - for its whistleblower white paper released on December 7, 2010.