The Obama Administration's War on Whistleblowers
WASHINGTON Before taking office, candidate Barack Obama said he would have the most transparent administration ever. But the White House is apparently doing more than any other administration ever to block the very transparency Obama promised.
Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said the president has signed bills to protect whistleblowers.
"And yet, the administration is doing everything it can apparently to retaliate against anyone who reports anything publicly or goes to Congress with evidence that the administration's done something wrong," he told CBN News.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder has resigned but not before stopping more whistleblowers than any of his predecessors.
Of some 2,900 cases involving the government in the year 2013, at least 1,400 - almost half - had something to do with retaliation against whistleblowers.
"Eric Holder has opened up more leak investigations than all prior attorneys general combined, which is really that's quite something," von Spakovsky said.
George Mason Law School's Assistant Dean Richard Kelsey said the country needs whistleblowers more than ever in a time when the federal bureaucracy is growing so huge and out of control.
"Whistleblowing is an essential piece now because the government has gotten so strong and so powerful," Kelsey said.
Congress has been passing more laws to protect whistleblowers to try to limit the bureaucracies' inevitable efforts at self-preservation.
"The first thing that a bureaucracy does is it attempts to protect itself and grow its power," Kelsey explained. "This is the problem with bureaucracies."
Even 47 of Obama's own 73 inspectors general wrote to Congress complaining about his administration's refusal to be transparent and open.
"Refusing to turn over information and documentation that would enable them to do their jobs. That has never, ever happened before," von Spakovsky said.
Most of these inspectors general are Obama's own appointees "who were supposed to be looking at abusive behavior, fraud and yet they're the ones complaining about the administration not being transparent," he said.
"With this executive branch being accused from both conservatives and even some liberals of overreaching for power, the danger of its actions to squash whistleblowers is apparent," von Spakovsky warned.
"If you don't protect whistleblowers, then we don't know what's going on in these huge agencies that are creating regulations, that are enforcing these regulations against Americans, and that's why you have to protect whistleblowers," Kelsey said.
One way the administration is shutting up potential whistleblowers is by using a legal loophole that lets it designate their work as "sensitive jobs," even if they really aren't.
"Apparently the government is using that now to designate all kinds of people who supposedly are 'sensitive' so that they can't take advantage of the whistleblower protections, even though they really shouldn't have that designation," von Spakovsky told CBN News.
The administration also used one law to sentence to prison the whistleblower who blew the lid off the CIA's use of waterboarding.
Consequently, the first official to be convicted over waterboarding was not someone who actually water boarded anyone, but who leaked information to expose it.