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Obama's Bypassing Whistleblower Rights

Obama's Memo Bypasses Whistleblower Rights

By Dennis Loo (5/28/13)

In a New York Times' OpEd piece by Eyal Press, published 5/27/13, Press reveals a barely noticed White House memo issued on January 25, 2013 that sabotages whisteblowers' ability to protect themselves against retaliatory firings by the Federal Government. As Press notes:

the memo instructs the director of national intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management to establish standards that would give federal agencies the power to fire employees, without appeal, deemed ineligible to hold “noncritical sensitive” jobs. It means giving them immense power to bypass civil service law, which is the foundation for all whistle-blower rights.

In other words, someone who blows the whistle on corruption, crimes, egregious and consequential incompetence, and so on, can, under this memo, be fired by the agency they work for simply by having their job be newly designated as "noncritical sensitive." By labeling their job as such, the agency can claim that it was not firing someone for their whistleblowing, but merely because their job was now "noncritical sensitive." The odd terminology here appears to be designed so as to say that while your job is "sensitive," it is no longer "critical," and therefore we are terminating you. What's sensitive here, of course, is your access to sensitive information.

Civil service law protects whistleblowers because it permits those who are being fired or otherwise persecuted for their revelations of wrongdoing by allowing them to sue for monetary damages and/or to keep their jobs. The grounds for this is that they have been unfairly and unreasonably targetted for retaliation. This memo would undo that protection, thus exposing whistleblowers to persecution without recourse for the whistleblowers to seek judicial protection. In short, this memo in effect declares that the Obama Administration believes in transparency and the importance of whistleblowers as long as whistleblowers don't actually do any whistleblowing. If they do, then they can expect that they will be fired forthwith and have no grounds to sue for that. As such, this little noticed memo reveals the modus operandi of the Obama Administration: say that you are on the side of the angels while covertly doing the work of the devil.

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