Dissenters’ Digest for April 15-21
Dissenters’ Digest takes a look back at the week’s stories covering whistleblowers, watchdogs, and government accountability. Look for it every Saturday evening at www.mspbwatch.net/digest.
Justice Department Withheld Evidence of Flawed Forensic Procedures Used in Criminal Cases in the 1990’s: The Washington Post reports that the Department of Justice failed to notify defendants or their attorneys of possibly exculpatory evidence of flawed forensic procedures. FBI whistleblower Dr. Frederic Whitehurst disclosed improper procedures in the FBI crime lab almost 20 years ago, which led to a nine-year DOJ task force to determine if any defendants were wrongfully incarcerated. The Post notes in a separate article that the DOJ task force “operated in secret and with close oversight by FBI and Justice Department brass — including [then-Attorney General Janet] Reno and [FBI Director Louis] Freeh’s top deputy — who took steps to control the information uncovered by the group.” The National Whistleblowers Center, which counts Dr. Whitehurst as a director, has more coverage of this story.
Office of Special Counsel Roundup: The Office of Special Counsel issued a rare subpoena in the case of Pinal County (Arizona) Sheriff and Congressional candidate Paul Babeu, who is being investigated for violating the Hatch Act. The Arizona Republic reports that “[t]he special counsel is looking into allegations that Babeu and several key aides were working on his congressional campaign with county resources or while on the clock.”
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner is quoted in a Federal News Radio article about the GSA conference spending scandal. Lerner states that “[t]he value of this isn’t just about the $820,000. It’s really also about the scrutiny it brings to government waste by this one example. . . . Congress is holding hearings. Agencies now are going to be treading more carefully about the way they are spending money.”
Elsewhere, Senior Legal Advisor to the Special Counsel Jason Zuckerman speaks at a panel about ethical culture in government. Zuckerman notes that “[w]e are seeing a huge increase now in people who blow the whistle” and that “[w]e are getting about 2,800 in prohibited personnel practice complaints annually; two years ago, it was about 2,200. In 2002, it was about 1,600.”
Below the Fold:
–The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs reports S. 743, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, to the Senate.
–The prosecutor in charge of the bungled Thomas Drake whistleblower prosecution is leaving the Department of Justice.
–A whistleblower who exposed GSA’s excessive conference spending testifies in front of Congress.
–Following the conference scandal at the GSA, the nonprofit watchdog Cause of Action wrote to OMB seeking a government-wide audit of agencies’ adherence to whistleblower laws. Separately, CoA is seeking from the Office of Special Counsel any whistleblower complaints it received about the GSA.
–A U.S. soldier blows the whistle on photos of troops posing with corpses in Afghanistan.
–A whistleblower from the Department of Veterans Affairs files a retaliation complaint with the Office of Special Counsel after disclosing “improper accounting measures regarding PTSD treatment of veterans.”
–Despite promising to strengthen the Federal Election Commission and “nominate members committed to enforcing our nation’s election laws,” President Obama has yet to come through on either promise.
–Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, launches a talk show on Russia Today.
–A State Department whistleblower alleges a high-level U.S. official engaged in sexual relations on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Iraq.
–The chief of police at UC-Davis is stepping down following a scathing report about the widely-condemned pepper spray incident there last November.
–A federal judge rules against CIA whistleblower “Ishmael Jones,” who wrote a scathing book without the agency’s permission. The whistleblower will forfeit all book profits to charity.
–NSA whistleblower William Binney discusses the agency’s billion dollar surveillance facility in Bluffdale, Utah.
–The Center for Progressive Reform looks at how OSHA became stymied by anti-regulatory causes.
—Slate looks at how America came to torture its prisoners.
–An ex-UK ambassador comes out in support of Bradley Manning.
–The mastermind behind the Watergate efforts to discredit Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has died at the age of 80.
–Walmart covered up a massive bribery scandal in Mexico.
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