• Letter to the State Department

    May 31, 2012

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq

    The following is a letter I sent to the Director General of the Department of State, the head Human Resources person and the individual who will likely be firing me sometime soon. It refers to a State Department message (“cable”) she sent out reminding staff of the protections they have available to them as whistleblowers. That cable is reproduced in full, below.

    There has been no response to my letter from the State Department, ‘natch.



    Dear Director General Thomas-Greenfield:

    Thank you very much for sending today’s cable, below, reminding all employees of the role of the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) in protecting Federal whistleblowers. I hope that seeing it go out under your name as Director General signifies your personal commitment to upholding the protections required by law.

    As such, I wish to remind you that I filed my written response to your Proposal to Terminate me for actions that in large part fall under the terms laid out in your cable.

    That my work does indeed qualify me as a whistleblower is without question; in fact, the Project for Government Oversight (POGO) called me an “important national whistleblower”. My book and blog have and continue to call attention to gross waste and mismanagement in the Iraq Reconstruction process, as well as other programs.

    As for retaliatory personnel practices, as you are aware the Department terminated me, defacto, in October 2011. By that time I had had my security clearance “temporarily” suspended (despite three DS interrogations, a computer forensic analysis and a second, full field investigation, my clearance status is still “temporary” and no decision has been issued some eight months later), was thrown out of my assigned job after a year of successful work, never given an EER for that work and then involuntarily curtailed without my knowledge or participation, and was physically banned from the building for several months with HR unlawfully retaining physical possession of my ID card (no reason given). A Fax from a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in Public Diplomacy to my publisher falsely accused me of a Federal crime of publishing classified information. Along the way I was placed on US Secret Service and Diplomatic Security watch lists as a potential danger to the Secretary of State. Later, I was made to sign an unprecedented and likely illegal Compliance Letter as a requirement just to continue work and forcibly assigned to a meaningless telework slot that in no way meets the acceptable standard for a Foreign Service Officer with 24 years of experience.

    After completing its investigation in December the Department took no action against me for some three months. Instead the Department waited until my retaliation complaint, filed with the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), moved to the discovery phase to propose termination. The Department has offered no explanation for why it waited months to propose termination. The timing suggests that this is an attempt to derail the OSC investigation and deny me that third-party review of the Department’s action over the last year. Even as this separation proceeds, the Department is dragging its feet to impede the OSC investigation.

    Most ironic of all, given your cable, my representative attempted to negotiate a settlement with the Department. The negotiations failed because I would not yield to the Department’s key demand– to drop my complaint filed with the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC). That the Department made dropping the OSC complaint the cornerstone of its negotiating strategy makes clear that this proposal is all about derailing this third-party examination of the Department’s personnel practices.

    I look forward to meeting with you in the near future to discuss these issues further.

    Respectfully,
    Peter Van Buren
    Consul
    US Department of State



    The Cable
    UNCLASSIFIED STATE 00047512
    VZCZCXYZ0000
    RR RUEHWEB
    DE RUEHC #7512 1311656
    ZNR UUUUU ZZH
    R 101652Z MAY 12
    FM SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC
    TO RHMCSUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
    R 101652Z MAY 12
    FM SECSTATE WASHDC
    TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE
    AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0000
    BT
    UNCLAS STATE 047512

    E.O. 13526: N/A
    TAGS: APER, AMGT
    SUBJECT: WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS AND PROHIBITED
    PERSONNEL PRACTICES IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

    FOR ALL DEPARTMENT OF STATE EMPLOYEES FROM THE DIRECTOR GENERAL

    1. ACTION FOR MANAGEMENT SECTION CHIEFS-SEE PARA. 6.

    2. I STAND COMMITTED TO ENSURING THAT ALL DEPARTMENT OF
    STATE EMPLOYEES ARE AWARE OF, AND UNDERSTAND, THE
    PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES AND WHISTLEBLOWER
    PROTECTIONS. PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES (PPPS) ARE,
    BY STATUTE, FORBIDDEN IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. ONE OF
    THE MOST FREQUENTLY DISCUSSED PPPS IS THE PROHIBITION OF
    RETALIATING AGAINST WHISTLEBLOWERS. WHISTLEBLOWING
    INVOLVES THE ACT OF DISCLOSING INFORMATION THAT AN
    EMPLOYEE REASONABLY BELIEVES IS EVIDENCE OF A VIOLATION
    OF ANY LAW, RULE OR REGULATION; GROSS MISMANAGEMENT; A
    GROSS WASTE OF FUNDS; AN ABUSE OF AUTHORITY; OR A
    SUBSTANTIAL AND SPECIFIC DANGER TO PUBLIC HEALTH OR
    SAFETY. I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT
    EMPLOYEES WHO ARE AWARE
    OF THESE PROTECTIONS WILL BE MORE CONFIDENT IN COMING
    FORWARD TO REPORT POSSIBLE VIOLATIONS.

    3. THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL (OSC) IS AN
    INDEPENDENT AGENCY THAT INVESTIGATES AND PROSECUTES
    ALLEGATIONS OF PPPS. BY LAW, FEDERAL EMPLOYEES MAY NOT,
    FOR EXAMPLE: DISCRIMINATE; COERCE THE POLITICAL ACTIVITY
    OF ANY PERSON; INFLUENCE ANY PERSON TO WITHDRAW FROM JOB
    COMPETITION; ENGAGE IN NEPOTISM; TAKE, OR THREATEN TO
    TAKE, A PERSONNEL ACTION BECAUSE OF THE EXERCISE OF A
    LAWFUL APPEAL, COMPLAINT, OR GRIEVANCE RIGHT; OR TAKE,
    OR THREATEN TO TAKE, A PERSONNEL ACTION BECAUSE OF
    WHISTLEBLOWING. FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF PPPS, YOU ARE
    ENCOURAGED TO VISIT OSC’S WEBSITE, HTTP://WWW.OSC.GOV,
    WHICH PROVIDES IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS
    AS A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE, PPPS, WHISTLEBLOWING, AND
    DISCLOSURE PROCEDURES. COMPLAINTS ALLEGING PROHIBITED
    PERSONNEL PRACTICES SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO THE OSC AT
    202-254-3640, OR FILED ON-LINE AT HTTP://WWW.OSC.GOV.

    4. THE WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT OF 1989 WAS ENACTED
    TO STRENGTHEN PROTECTIONS FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WHO
    BELIEVE THEY HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO UNJUSTIFIED
    PERSONNEL ACTIONS IN REPRISAL FOR THEIR WHISTLEBLOWING
    ACTIVITIES. THE OSC PROVIDES THE SECURE CHANNEL THROUGH
    WHICH CURRENT AND FORMER FEDERAL EMPLOYEES MAKE
    CONFIDENTIAL DISCLOSURES, INCLUDING VIOLATIONS OF LAW,
    RULE,
    OR REGULATION, MISMANAGEMENT, FRAUD, ABUSE OF
    AUTHORITY, OR A SUBSTANTIAL DANGER TO PUBLIC HEALTH OR
    SAFETY. ANY DEPARTMENT OF STATE EMPLOYEE WHO HAS REASON
    TO BELIEVE THAT THERE HAS BEEN MISCONDUCT, FRAUD, WASTE,
    OR ABUSE IS ENCOURAGED TO REPORT THESE MATTERS.
    DISCLOSURES SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO OSC PER PARA. 3 ABOVE,
    OR TO THE DEPARTMENT’S OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
    (OIG).

    5. FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM
    PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES, INCLUDING RETALIATION
    FOR WHISTLEBLOWING. I AM COMMITTED TO MAKING SURE THAT
    ALL EMPLOYEES ARE AWARE OF THEIR RIGHTS AS WELL AS THE
    SAFEGUARDS THAT ARE IN PLACE TO PROTECT THEM. BY
    VISITING THESE WEBSITE LINKS, YOU CAN FIND DETAILED
    INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS AS A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE.

    HTTP://WWW.OSC.GOV/YOURRIGHTSFEDERALEMPLOYEE.HTM

    OUTLINES YOUR “YOUR RIGHTS AS A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE.”

    HTTP://WWW.OSC.GOV/DOCUMENTS/PUBS/OSCROLE.PDF IS A
    PAMPHLET ENTITLED “THE ROLE OF THE U.S. OFFICE OF
    SPECIAL COUNSEL” AND CONTAINS VALUABLE INFORMATION FOR
    REPORTING PURPOSES. I ENCOURAGE EACH EMPLOYEE TO
    CAREFULLY READ THIS PAMPHLET.

    THIS INFORMATION IS ALSO ACCESSIBLE THROUGH THE STATE
    DEPARTMENT INTRANET AT:

    HTTP://INTRANET.HR.STATE.SBU/EMPLOYEERELATIONS/CONDUCTSU

    ITABILITYDISCIPLINE/PAGES/WHISTLEBLOWERPROTECTIONACT.ASPX

    6. MANAGEMENT
    OFFICERS AT OVERSEAS POSTS ARE REQUESTED
    TO PRINT THE DOWNLOADABLE POSTERS ABOUT PPP’S AND WPA
    PROTECTIONS FROM THE WEBSITE LINKS BELOW, AND TO POST
    THEM IN HIGHLY VISIBLE LOCATIONS IN ALL BUILDINGS
    THROUGHOUT THE MISSION WHERE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
    EMPLOYEES WORK.

    HTTP://WWW.OSC.GOV/PPPPOSTER.HTM PROVIDES A PRINTABLE
    POSTER ON PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES.

    HTTP://WWW.OSC.GOV/WBDISCPOSTER.HTM PROVIDES A PRINTABLE
    POSTER ON WHISTLEBLOWING.

    HTTP://WWW.OSC.GOV/DOCUMENTS/PUBS/POST_WBR.PDF PROVIDES
    A PRINTABLE POSTER ON WHISTLEBLOWER
    RETALIATION.

    7. IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS, PLEASE
    CONTACT HR/ER OR ME AT ANY TIME.

    8. MINIMIZED CONSIDERED.
    CLINTON
    BT
    #7512

    NNNN
    UNCLASSIFIED STATE 00047512



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  • Recent Comments

    • Helen Marshall said...

      1

      It becomes increasingly difficult to come up with comments on actions that are themselves parodies.

      Hang in there Peter!!!

      05/31/12 3:07 PM | Comment Link

    • Frederick Fellow said...

      2

      The State Department’s hypocrisy is beginning to look more like conspiracy. How long before the FBI begins an investigation?

      06/1/12 5:30 AM | Comment Link

    • Over-Classification at the State Department | OzHouse said...

      3

      […] which about a year ago sought to fire me, in part, for “revealing” a document that was labeled Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU), […]

      11/6/13 6:03 PM | Comment Link

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