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                                       politics + culture

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bush Administration disavows protections for Government Whistleblowers

In the wake of the whistleblower-initiated scandal that brought down World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, McClatchy's David Goldstein reports that the Department of Labor has disavowed "protections against official retaliation contained in several major environmental laws."

"This is the latest attack in a systematic war to gut the environmental whistleblowers' statutes," charged Tom Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit watchdog group. "They are a lifeline so government workers can challenge illegality without engaging in professional suicide."

If you're an employee, it has a very chilling effect," EPA whistleblower Cate Jenkins said. An EPA scientist, Jenkins has claimed that the agency downplayed the health dangers of the dust around the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Even environmental-movement critic Bonnor Cohen, who charged that its supporters "engage in shameless scare campaigns," said whistleblowers needed better shields. "There's no teeth in what's on the books now," said Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative research center. "It looks as if whistleblowers are protected. They are not.

This footnote issued by the Department of Labor was not meant for the general public; it was meant to be understood by career governmental employees in Washington considering telling the truth about government malfeasance. For related material on whistleblower protections, visit Public Citizen.



  • Whether Cate Jenkins's story or that of the Government Accountability Project bringing forward the information on Paul Wolfowitz's partner, Shaha Riza's disproportionate pay raises, these stories highlight one of the key pieces in citizen oversight of our government: the climate in which career government employees can come forward and bring out information about an administration abusing the public trust.

    Our government works for us. We pay the bills. We can't know about Paul Wolfowitz's abuse of authority or, in the case of Cate Jenkins, the EPA signing off on dangerous levels of pollution in lower Manhattan after 9/11, unless career employees are protected when they come forward.

    That's why we have whistleblower protections.

    Otherwise, the public just doesn't, can't and won't know when our government has gone off the rails.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 3:04 PM  

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