Originally published June 17 2015
Whistleblowers testify before Senate on being attacked by government for reporting the truth
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Federal employees are supposedly empowered to report wrongdoing to supervisors or even their member of Congress. It is called the "Whistleblower Protection Program" and it is administered by the Department of Labor through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
"OSHA's whistleblower statutes protect you from retaliation. An employer cannot retaliate by taking 'adverse action' against workers who report injuries, safety concerns, or other protected activity," says OSHA in defining the law's core intent. After all, the fear of retaliation would chill any desire to actually blow the whistle on inappropriate, illegal or dangerous activity.
However, the reality is that government -- and especially the Obama administration -- has failed to adequately enforce provisions of whistleblower statutes in particular through retaliation of federal employees, military personnel and others who have sought to alert authorities and Congress of alleged violations.
It should be called the "No Whistleblower Protection Act""Warren Weinstein is dead. Colin Rutherford, Joshua Boyle, Caitlin Coleman and the child she bore in captivity are still hostages in Pakistan. I failed them. I exhausted all efforts and resources available to return them but I failed."
That was the beginning of Army Lt. Col. Jason Amerine's testimony before a Senate hearing in recent days regarding retaliation against whistleblowers. Amerine was the first of a number of witnesses who provided sometimes emotional testimony in a hearing aimed at looking into the reprisals that military personnel and civilians have faced from the government they serve, the Washington Post reported.
As the paper further reported:
Amerine is the decorated Special Forces officer who was assigned to help retrieve Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held captive for five years after leaving his base in Afghanistan. He was charged with desertion after his return.
In the course of Amerine's work, he said his team learned about the other prisoners, Rutherford, Boyle and Coleman. After he complained to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) that "the bureaucracy for hostage recovery was broken" and spoke with the FBI, Amerine said he was labeled a whistleblower, "a term that has become radioactive and derogatory." His security clearance was suspended, his retirement was halted and he became the subject of a criminal investigation.
"A terrible irony is that my security clearance was suspended on January 15th," he said, "the day after Warren Weinstein was killed, as we now know," accidentally in an American drone attack.
Amerine appeared with three other whistleblowers - federal civilians who were reporting how Uncle Sam retaliated against them in an effort to prevent them from uncovering certain information. Their cases are still being investigated, so their claims have yet to be confirmed; however, they agreed to testify under oath about the forms of reprisal taken against them that have become increasingly common among a federal workforce that is supposedly protected from such vengeful actions.
"These men and women take great risk to stand up and expose wrongdoing," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, during the hearing. "They sacrifice their careers, their reputations and often their financial security. Congress -- and this committee in particular -- must support federal whistleblowers and ensure that they are adequately protected from retaliation."
While the appearing witnesses do have Congress' attention, they still lack real protection from retaliation.
Customs and Border Protection Chief Officer Jose Rafael Ducos Bello spoke emotionally about his son with autism, who attempted to take his own life after his father was retaliated against.
The "biggest cost" of reporting "fraud, waste, abuse and improper use of AUO (administratively uncontrollable overtime)," said Bello, was "watching my son trying to jump [off] his high school roof" because of the CBP officer's troubles at work.
When he was called about his son's suicide attempt, he added, it was "emotionally devastating."
"I almost lost my youngest child"In another case, Taylor Johnson, a DHS senior special agent, told the Senate panel that she was hit with reprisal after she disclosed gross mismanagement, fraud and waste that included national security risks as related to a program for foreign investors.
Her reprisals included being "escorted by three supervisors from my desk and out of my permanent duty station," she testified.
"I was not permitted to access my case file or personal items. I was alienated from my friends and colleagues, who were told by management to steer clear of me since I was facing criminal charges," she added. "I was removed from my permanent duty station and initially assigned to an office over 50 miles from my home and family."
In addition, her service weapon and government vehicle were confiscated.
"I almost lost my youngest child," Johnson said, "when an adoption social worker tried to verify employment and was told I had been terminated by the agency for a criminal offense."
So much for whistleblower "protection".
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