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Tag: Whistleblower

Senator Demands Answers about Suspension of Whistleblowing FBI Agent

Sen. Chuck Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Senate committee chairman wants more information from the Justice Department about an FBI agent who was suspended after blowing the whistle on a former Louisiana district attorney accused of trading sex for leniency, the Associated Press reports. 

FBI Special Agent Mike Zummer filed an ethics complaint in 2013 against a federal prosecutor, Fred Harper, of New Orleans.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Zummer complained that Harper’s relationship with a defense attorney may have resulted in a lenient plea agreement for former St. Charle Parish District Attorney Harry Morel.

The FBI suspended Zummer and his security clearance earlier this year after he made the conflict-of-interest allegations in a letter to a judge.

“That looks like it could be a misuse of the security clearance process to mask retaliation for protected whistleblowing,” Grassley wrote in Nov. 15 letters to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey.

Grassley said he has not yet received a response.

Editorial: Why FBI Whistleblowers Should Be Protected, Not Mistreated

whistleBy Editorial Board
Post and Courier 

Whistleblowers perform an essential role in providing government accountability. Just consider the array of life-threatening problems that agency employees brought forth at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

But for what they do for the taxpayers and people who are served by the bureaucracy, whistleblowers are routinely mistreated by the federal government.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the FBI’s record on that score is among the worst.

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office, amplified by hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, found that the nation’s premier, elite law enforcement organization routinely discourages employees who want to report fraud, waste and abuse.

Worse, it often retaliates against those that do, ruining careers and taking as long as a decade to resolve whistleblower complaints.

And unlike most other government agencies, FBI employees are not protected by the Merit Systems Protection Board or the Office of Special Counsel whose main mission is to help whistleblowers.

To read more click here. 

Documents Show Feds Tried to Discredit Snowden Using His Own Email

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Newly declassified documents show that Edward Snowden first raised concerns with the NSA before he leaked the information.

In one letter, Snowden questioned whether an presidential executive order allowing the spying program could supersede federal law, the Daily Mail reports.

 “I’m not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law,” Snowden wrote in the e-mail. “My understanding is that EOs may be superseded by federal statute, but EOs may not override statute. Am I incorrect in this? Between EOs and laws, which have precedence?”

The new documents lend credibility to Snowden’c claims that he repeatedly tried to raise concerns about the NSA’s surveillance of Americans.

Other Stories of Interest

Tribune-Review: TSA’s Bonus Scam Rewards ‘Pitiful Job Performance’

tsaBy Editorial Board
The Tribune-Review

By definition, a “bonus” is recognition of a job well done. In federal application, it’s acceptance of poor performance as graphically illustrated by the Transportation Security Administration.

Following a whistle-blower’s complaint, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating TSA bonuses paid despite pitiful job performance. Under the collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees union, performance-based cash awards are permitted without defining how these perks are to be issued.

And once again, the brakes are applied long after the flight to mediocrity has left the gate.

TSA officials at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport pocketed automatic bonuses — in one case, $70,000 over three years — despite abysmal results in security tests, according to reports. An undercover operation revealed that weapons bypassed security 95 percent of the time in 70 tests. Screeners reportedly failed to find a fake bomb taped to an undercover agent’s back even after it set off a warning device.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Ex-FBI Agent Fired After Blowing Whistle on Sexual Misconduct Wins Appeal

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former FBI special agent was wrongly fired after he blew the whistle on alleged sexual misconduct among his co-workers, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the bureau lacked sufficient cause to fire former special agent John C. Parkinson in 2012, four years after he alleged that a colleague had a “career-long pattern of soliciting sex with prostitutes,” the Fresno Bee reports. 

Now the FBI must rehire Parkinson or pay him.

Parkinson alleged that another Sacramento-based colleague had a “history of viewing Internet pornography, both on government and personal computers during work hours.”

A decorated Marine Corps Reserve lieutenant colonel, Parkinson was fired in 2012 for allegedly obstructing investigators and lacking candor in his responses to a probe involving in building new Sacramento quarters for the Special Operations Group.

“It should be appreciated that . . . the penalty of removal, which was predicated on the now-overturned lack of candor charge, cannot be sustained,” wrote Judge Richard Linn of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Parkinson’s attorney celebrated the ruling, which was quietly released Monday. 

“We are thrilled at this victory,” attorney Jesselyn A. Radack, with the watchdog group ExposeFacts, said in an interview Tuesday with the Fresno Bee. “It truly is a rare and historic ruling.”

TSA Whistleblower Speaks Out About Security Flaws That Endanger Flyers

airport scanner 2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A TSA senior manager-turned-whistleblower spoke out publicly for the first time about retaliation within the agency and growing safety concerns.

Drew Rhodes, one of four assistant federal security directors at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, expressed his concerns about the TSA in an interview Fox9. 

Rhodes said he blew the whistle on the agency because of frustration over security flaws that weren’t being addressed,. They included the handling of ammunition at checkpoints and the failure to use orange tags on check bags that had already been screened.

Here’s a partial transcript of the interview with Fox9:

Rhoades: “There were these embarrassing stories about the TSA. My supervisor said, ‘I want to know who the leak is. Is it you, he said at one meeting.”
Reporter: They thought you were my leak for those stories?’
Rhoades “That is correct.”
Reporter: “And just to set the record straight, we had never talked, or met each other when I did those stories?’
Rhoades: “That is correct.”
Rhodes’ boss is Federal Security Director Cliff Van Leuven.

Ven Leuven ordered Rhoades transferred from Minnesota, to Tampa, Florida.  But for Rhoades, who had recently divorced, the warmer locale came at price.

Rhoades: “If I left the state of Minnesota, I would’ve lost custody of my children.”
Reporter: “So they knew they had you, that moving was a deal killer?”
Rhoades:  “Absolutely.”
Reporter: “And you think around the country directed reassignments are used to punish people in TSA?”
Rhoades: “No doubt. It’s happened in many cities.”

Wife of Jailed CIA Whistleblower Asks President Obama to Pardon Her Husband

CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.

CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The wife of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is asking President Obama to pardon her husband, presenting the White House with a petition with 100,000 signatures, the Intercept reports. 

Sterling is serving 3.5 years in prison after passing along classified information to a New York Times reporter.

“Justice at some point is going to be served,” wife Holly Sterling said Wednesday at a news conference in the National Press Club. “The truth must come out. He is innocent, and he has always been innocent.”

Fellow CIA whistleblower John Kiriako said Sterling “did exactly what he was supposed to do when he encountered a program of waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality.”

In June, Sterling was imprisoned in Colorado following a trial in which prosecutors relied on phone and e-mails of the reporter, James Risen, to show that CIA whistleblower provided classified information.

Other Stories of Interest

Eric Holder: Plea Deal Possible to Bring Back NSA Leaker Snowden

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department could make a deal to convince NSA leaker Edward Snowden to return to the U.S. after he fled in 2013 following the shocking release of secret surveillance documents.

That’s according to former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who spoke to Yahoo News about the issue.

Holder said the U.S. likely would be interested in striking a deal with the whistleblower and even conceded that Snowden’s document leak “spurred a necessary debate” on surveillance.

“I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists.”

But current AG Loretta Lynch didn’t seem as open to a deal.

“This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed,” Lynch spokeswoman Melanie Newman said in an email.