Browsing: whistleblowers

Special Counsel warns against targeted monitoring of whistleblowers

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The U.S. Special Counsel on Wednesday warned that agencies could be reprimanded for targeting whistleblowers and monitoring emails that report wrongdoing. In the memo, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said that targeting emails between whistleblowers and the OSC or inspectors general for surveillance is “highly problematic.” Agencies that deliberately target whistleblowers’ submissions or draft submissions to OSC or IGs could be accused of retaliating against the employees, Lerner said. “This is the first finding that we are aware of in which a government agency has stated that there are limits on how federal agencies can monitor employee email,” Stephen Kohn, executive…

Proposed whistleblower protections for contract employees passes committee

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A Senate bill that would give federal contract employees the same whistleblower protections as federal employees passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today. Senate bill 241, introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., would protect contractors who report improper spending or management on federal contracts from retaliation. Contract employees who witness contract fraud currently can bring a civil claim, in the name of the government, against contractors under the False Claims Act. If the claim is successful, the whistleblower could receive up to 30 percent of the recovered funds. However, the False Claims Act does not protect whistleblowers who witness waste,…

Bill extends whistleblower protections to contractors

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Government contractors who blow the whistle on improper use of federal dollars or unethical behavior would be protected against retaliation under a bill introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Recent laws that extend protections to some contractors have created a patchwork of inadequate protections, McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate Contracting Oversight Subcommittee, said during a hearing Tuesday. For example, whistleblower provisions added for defense contractor employees in 2008 do not protect contractors from retaliation by a government official nor does it cover subcontractors. Senate Bill 241 would extend whistleblower protections to all government contractors and subcontractors, and consolidate some of…

Former U.S. special counsel charged with contempt

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Scott Bloch, who led the Office of Special Counsel during the Bush administration, was charged with criminal contempt of Congress on Thursday, Reuters reports. Bloch was forced out of office  in October 2008 after a tumultuous term that culminated in FBI agents raiding his office and home. They were searching for evidence that he obstructed justice during a federal investigation into whether he retaliated against employees who disagreed with how he managed the agency, which is charged with protecting federal whistleblowers and other employees from retaliation. Bloch was widely suspected of having his computer wiped clean of files that may…

One year later, no special counsel

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Something I’ve been wondering lately, both because Barack Obama the presidential candidate said a lot of good things about whistleblowers, and because I spent a not-inconsequential part of 2008 reporting on Scott Bloch: Why hasn’t the White House appointed a new special counsel? I know President Barack Obama still has hundreds of positions to fill. But the top job at the Office of Special Counsel would seem to be an important one. The agency hasn’t had political leadership since October 2008, when the Bush administration forced Bloch to resign. OSC employees I’ve talked to generally say the agency needs some…

Wikileaks critics: Post on bomb-jamming crossed the line

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While most people who aren’t former Nixon staffers or convicted Watergate criminals agree that Mark Felt did the right thing by talking to Bob Woodward, not all leaks are as cut and dry. Wired posted a blog entry yesterday that says someone has uploaded a classified report to Wikileaks on the military’s Warlock radio-frequency jammers, which soldiers use to cut off signals to remotely detonated bombs used by Iraqi insurgents. (The Wired blog has some profanity.) The four-year old report contains information on how the jammers work, such as what frequencies they stop. Though the models described in the report are…

FBI's Mark Felt, AKA Deep Throat, dead at 95

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Mark Felt, the former associate director of the FBI who helped break the Watergate scandal, died yesterday at 95. Felt, who for decades hid his role in the scandal and was known only as Deep Throat, was the consummate whistleblower. As a career agent and the number two man at the FBI, Felt had firsthand knowledge of how the Nixon administration tried to sabotage the Bureau’s investigation into the Watergate burglary. He used that information to guide Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they dug into the scandal. Felt’s “Deep Throat” moniker, which was given to him…

Scott Bloch's resignation letter

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As we’re reporting on the Federal Times Web site, Special Counsel Scott Bloch announced his resignation — he’s leaving office on Jan. 5, the scheduled end of his five-year term. He made the announcement in a letter to the president (pdf) earlier today. Bloch had the option to stay for one more year (or until the Senate confirms the next special counsel, whichever comes first), but he declined to stick around. Bloch’s announcement is true to his word from an interview two months ago, when I asked Bloch about the increasingly vocal calls for his resignation: But when asked about…