Will Obama Keep His Promise to Federal Whistleblowers?
August 4, 2009
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Former federal air marshal Robert MacLean says he was fired in 2006 for going public with the agency's plans to eliminate air marshal protection on coast-to-coast flights to save money. MacLean has been waiting more than three years for a hearing before the MSPB. The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009 stipulates that cases like MacLean's must be heard within 270 days.
Former federal air marshal Spencer Pickard says he was forced to resign from his job as a federal air marshal after he helped warn the public in 2006 of dangerous flaws in aviation security procedures. "I'm here because the people need to know if the terrorists do their job right and prepare like they did before 9/11, they will figure out a way to win because we are not undercover," Pickard said in a 2006 ABC News 20/20 broadcast. ABC spoke to dozens of current and former air marshals as part of a three-month investigation which found they all had to stay in the same hotels, abide by a dress code banning jeans and sneakers and follow boarding procedures forcing them to identify themselves while passengers look on. The Federal Air Marshal Service subsequently dropped the dress code and hotel requirements.
Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency intelligence analyst, came forward to reveal details about the NSA's controversial warrantless surveillance program. Tice told ABC News that he saw unlawful and unconstitutional acts done at the NSA while working there, which he called "black world programs and operations." After the program was reported by the New York Times, the U.S. government launched an investigation to identify who released the information to the media. In 2005, Tice – who spoke to both ABC News and the NYT – lost his job at the NSA after the agency revoked his security clearances, citing psychological concerns.
Gary Aguirre, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigator, says he was fired after blowing the whistle on what he described as "preferred treatment" towards John Mack during an insider trading investigation. Mack was set to become the Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley, and Aguirre said his colleagues at the SEC were unwilling to question Mack. "I was told that it would be very difficult to get approval to take his testimony because of his powerful political connections," Aguirre told ABC News. Aguirre's accounts were the catalyst of several hearings on Capitol Hill about the SEC's enforcement of Wall Street regulation, but "Wall Street has long tentacles," said Aguirre, "and those tentacles reached into the SEC and cost me my job.
Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse
Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee, alleged the Halliburton contracting firm illegally obtained billions in government contracts related to its operations in Iraq during the Iraq War. Greenhouse told members of Congress the Halliburton contracts were "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career." She was later demoted and had her security clearance revoked. Greenhouse refused to resign and is now focused on a stronger federal protection for whistleblowers.