• Homeland Insecurity: Robert MacLean and TSA

    June 1, 2013

    Tags: , , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy

    Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

    What do words mean in a post-9/11 world? Apart from the now clichéd Orwellian twists that turn brutal torture into mere enhanced interrogation, the devil is in the details. Robert MacLean is a former air marshal fired for an act of whistleblowing.  He has continued to fight over seven long years for what once would have passed as simple justice: getting his job back. His is an all-too-twenty-first-century story of the extraordinary lengths to which the U.S. government is willing to go to thwart whistleblowers.

    First, the government retroactively classified a previously unclassified text message to justify firing MacLean. Then it invoked arcane civil service procedures, including an “interlocutory appeal” to thwart him and, in the process, enjoyed the approval of various courts and bureaucratic boards apparently willing to stamp as “legal” anything the government could make up in its own interest.

    And yet here’s the miracle at the heart of this tale: MacLean refused to quit, when ordinary mortals would have thrown in the towel.  Now, with a recent semi-victory, he may not only have given himself a shot at getting his old job back, but also create a precedent for future federal whistleblowers. In the post-9/11 world, people like Robert MacLean show us how deep the Washington rabbit hole really goes.

    The Whistle Is Blown

    MacLean joined the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) in 2001 after stints with the Air Force and the Border Patrol. In July 2003, all marshals received a briefing about a possible hijacking plot. Soon after, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which oversees FAMS, sent an unencrypted, open-air text message to the cell phones of the marshals cancelling several months of missions for cost-cutting reasons. MacLean became concerned that cancelling missions during a hijacking alert might create a dangerous situation for the flying public. He complained to his supervisor and to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, but each responded that nothing could be done.

    It was then that he decided to blow the whistle, hoping that public pressure might force the TSA to reinstate the marshals’ flights. So MacLean talked to a reporter, who broadcast a story criticizing the TSA’s decision and, after 11 members of Congress joined in the criticism, it reversed itself. At this point, MacLean had not been identified as the source of the leak and so carried on with his job.

    A year later, he appeared on TV in disguise, criticizing the TSA dress code and its special boarding policies, which he believed allowed marshals to be easily identified by other passengers. This time, the TSA recognized his voice and began an investigation that revealed he had also released the 2003 text message. He was fired in April 2006. Although the agency had not labeled that message as “sensitive security information” (SSI) when it was sent in 2003, in August 2006, months after MacLean’s firing, it issued a retroactive order stating that the text’s content was indeed SSI.

    A Whistleblower’s Catch-22

    That disclosing the contents of an unclassified message could get someone fired for disclosing classified information is the sort of topsy-turvy situation which could only exist in the post-9/11 world of the American national security state.

    Under the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), a disclosure prohibited by law negates whistleblower protections. That, of course, makes it in the government’s interest to define disclosure as broadly as possible and to classify as much of its internal communications for as long as it possibly can. No wonder that in recent years the classification of government documents has soared, reaching a record total of 92,064,862 in 2011.

    Officially, the U.S. government recognizes only three basic levels of classification: confidential, secret, and top secret. Since 9/11, however, various government agencies have created multiple freestyle categories of secrecy like “SSI,” “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” “Sensitive But Unclassified,” and the more colorful “Eyes Only.”  All of these are outside the normal codification system; all are hybrids that casually seek to incorporate the full weight of the formal law. There are currently 107 designations just for “sensitive” information. In addition to those labels, there exist more than 130 sets of extra “handling requirements” that only deepen the world of government secrecy.

    At issue for MacLean was not only the retroactive classification of a text message already in the public domain, but what classified could possibly mean in an era when everything related to the national security state was slipping into the shadows. Such questions are hardly semantic or academic. MacLean’s case hinges on how they are answered.

    The case against Army Private Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks is, for example, intimately tied up in them. The military hides behind classification to block access to Manning’s “public” trial. With WikiLeaks, despite more than 100,000 U.S. State Department diplomatic cables being available to anyone anywhere on the web, the government continues to insist that they remain “classified” and cannot even be rereleased in response to requests. Potential federal employees were warned to stay away from the cables online, and the State Department even blocked TomDispatch from its staff to shield them from alleged WikiLeaks content (some of which was linked to and discussed, but none of which was actually posted at the site).

    With author Tony Shaffer, the government retroactively classified its own account of why he was given the Bronze Star and his standard deployment orders to Afghanistan after he published an uncomplimentary book about American actions there. The messy case of alleged “hacktivist” Barrett Brown includes prosecution for “disclosing” classified material simply by linking to it at places where it had already been posted online; and, while still at the State Department, I was once accused of the same thing by the government.

    In MacLean’s case, over a period of seven years, the legality of the TSA firing him for using an only-later-classified text was upheld. Legal actions included hearings before administrative judges, the Merit Systems Protections Board twice, that interlocutory appeal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The sum of these decisions amid a labyrinth of judicial bureaucracies demands the use of the term Kafkaesque.  MacLean, so the general judgment went, should have known that the text message he planned to leak was a classified document, even when it wasn’t (yet). As a result, he should also have understood that his act would not be that of a whistleblower alerting the public to possible danger, but of a criminal risking public safety by exposing government secrets. If that isn’t the definition of a whistleblower’s catch-22, what is?

    What such a twisted interpretation by the various courts, boards, and bodies meant was chillingly laid out in an amicus brief on behalf of MacLean filed by the United States Office of Special Counsel (a small, lonely U.S. government entity charged with protecting whistleblowers):

    “Whistleblowers should not have to guess whether information that they reasonably believe evidences waste, fraud, abuse, illegalities or public dangers might be later designated as SSI [unclassified sensitive security information] and therefore should not be disclosed. Rather than making the wrong guess, a would-be whistleblower will likely choose to remain silent to avoid risking the individual’s employment.”

    Seven Years Later…

    In 2011, five years after he had been fired as an air marshal, MacLean’s case finally reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Two full years after that, in April 2013, the court handed down a decision that may yet provide justice for Robert MacLean — and for future whistleblowers. While awkwardly upholding previous decisions that the government can indeed retroactively classify information, even documents in categories like SSI that exist outside the government’s official framework for classification and secrecy, the court tackled a more basic question: Was Robert MacLean a whistleblower anyway, entitled to protection for his act of conscience?

    Here lies the conflict at the heart of just about every whistleblower case — between the public’s right (and need) to know and the (at times legitimate) need for secrecy. The government typically argues that individuals should not be allowed to decide for themselves what remains secret and what doesn’t, or chaos would result. At the same time, in a post-9/11 world of increasing secrecy, the loss of the right to know, and the massive over-classification of documents, the “conflict” has become ever more one-sided. If everything can be considered a classified secret document too precious for Americans to know about, and nothing classified can be disclosed, then the summary effect is that nothing inside the government can ever be shown to the public.

    The court found that while the Transportation Safety Administration could legally apply any classification it wanted to information any time it wanted, even retroactively, simply slapping on such a label did not necessarily prohibit disclosure. Absent an actual law in MacLean’s case mentioning SSI, a term created bureaucratically, not congressionally, there could be no Whistleblower Protection Act-excepting prohibition. In other words, MacLean could still be a whistleblower.

    One of MacLean’s lawyers, Tom Devine, told me the decision “restored enforceability for the Whistleblower Protection Act’s public free speech rights. It ruled that only Congress has the authority to remove whistleblower rights. Agency-imposed restraints are not relevant for WPA rights.”

    “With this precedential decision,” MacLean explained to me, “agencies can no longer cancel out Whistleblower Protection Act rights with their semi-secret markings like SSI, Law Enforcement Sensitive, etcetera.”

    In a concurring opinion, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Judge Evan Wallach was even clearer: “Mr. MacLean presented substantial evidence that he was not motivated by personal gain but by the desire to protect the public… I concur to emphasize that the facts alleged, if proven, allege conduct at the core of the Whistleblower Protection Act.”

    MacLean’s case now returns to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The board is a complex piece of bureaucracy inside the already complicated federal government personnel system. In simple terms, it is supposed to be a place to appeal personnel actions, such as alleged unfair hirings and firings. It thus serves as a kind of watchdog over the sprawling federal human resources empire. The Board now has the court-ordered specific charge to “determine whether Mr. MacLean’s disclosure qualifies for WPA protection.”

    Note as well that this case could continue without end for years more, traveling on “appeal” back through the federal judicial bureaucracy and the courts. And remember that this, too, is an advantage to a government that wants ever less known about itself. If, as a federal employee, you are watching a case like MacLean’s (or Thomas Drake’s, or Franz Gayle’s, or Morris Davis’s, or John Kiriakou’s, or even my own small version of this), then you can’t help noticing that the act of whistleblowing could leave you: a) out on your ear; b) prosecuted for a criminal act and/or c) with your life embroiled for years in the intricacies of your own never-ending case. None of this is exactly an encouragement to federal employees to blow that whistle.

    Whistleblowers and Secrecy

    Threats to whistleblowers abound, so any positive step, however minimalist or reversible, is important. Entering the White House pledging to head the most transparent administration in history, Barack Obama has, in fact, gone after more national security whistleblowers, often using the draconian Espionage Act, than all previous administrations combined.

    His Justice Department has repeatedly tried to prosecute whistleblowers, crudely lumping them in with actual spies and claiming they endanger Americans (and sometimes “the troops”) by their actions. In addition, through the ongoing case of Berry v. Conyers, Obama has sought to expand the definition of “national security worker” to potentially include thousands of additional federal employees. Many employees who occupy truly sensitive jobs in the intelligence community (for example, real-world spies at the CIA) are exempt from being granted whistleblower status. They also cannot appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board if fired. By seeking to expand that exemption to a significantly larger group of people who may work at some federal agency, but in non-sensitive positions, Obama is also functionally moving to shrink the pool of potential whistleblowers. In Berry v. Conyers, for example, the persons Obama seeks to exempt as occupying sensitive jobs are merely an accounting technician and a commissary worker at an Air Force base. Neither of them even hold security clearances.

    What happens with MacLean’s case potentially affects every future whistleblower. If the mere presence of a pseudo-classification on an item, even applied retroactively, negates whistleblower protections, it means dark days ahead for the right of the citizenry to know what the government is doing (or how it’s misbehaving) in its name. If so, no act of whistleblowing could be considered protected, since all the government would have to do to unprotect it is classify whatever was disclosed retroactively and wash its hands of the miscreant. Federal employees, not a risk-taking bunch to begin with, will react accordingly.

    This is what gives MacLean’s case special meaning. While the initial decision on his fate will occur in the bowels of the somewhat obscure Merit Systems Protections Board, it will set a precedent that will surely find its way into higher courts on more significant cases. Amid a lot of technical legal issues, it all boils down to something very simple: Should whistleblower protections favor the conscience of a concerned federal employee willing to risk his job and the freedom to inform the public, or should they dissolve in the face of an unseen bureaucrat’s (retroactive) pseudo-classification decision?

    Procedurally, there are many options ahead for MacLean’s case, and the government will undoubtedly contest each tiny step. Whatever happens will happen slowly. This is exactly how the government has continually done its dirty work post-9/11, throwing monkey wrenches in the gears of the legal system, twisting words, and manipulating organizations designed to deliver justice in order to deny it.

    MacLean smiles at this. “I did seven years so far.  I can do seven more if they want. There’s too much at stake to just give up.”

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  • Recent Comments

    • Joe Carson said...


      Hi Peter,

      Bob MacLean put his duty to the common good before his personal economy and paid a high price. He deserves everyone’s commendation.

      But he is – just like you, me, the other federal whistleblowers you mention and the thousands since 1978 that you did not – a victim of the “broken covenant” of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, see http://www.broken-covenant.org for eye-glazing civil service law detail.

      He is also a victim of exploitation by Tom Devine, long-time legal director of Government Accountability Project (GAP), as well as GAP as a whole and POGO. Devine’s posture to Office of Special Counsel is “as long as it does not actively harm those who seek its assistance, it is ‘good enough’.” Office of Special Counsel is a 35 year-long lawbreaking fraud, Merit Systems Protection Board is its 35 year-long lawbreaking enabler – and Devine, GAP, POGO etc – “look other way” because this government lawbreaking benefits their personal interests (Devine’s need to be publicly acclaimed as “rescuer” of people like MacLean) or their business models (a few foundations provide the majority of their funding, these groups need “poster children” as MacLean, Van Buren, Carson (go back to mid-90’s, I was a “poster child” for them), Gayl, Drake – a very small percent of the direct victims of OSC/MSPB compounded lawbreaking, that Devine, GAP, POGO enable).

      Peter, no one has ever claimed MacLean is a “criminal” – the claim is that he violated TSA regulations, not criminal law. Please correct that part of your description in the blog post.

      So in MacLean’s hour of need in August 2003 – what should have been different, by dint of (now) 35 year-long law? Ditto your hours of need in Iraq? By the merit system principles, the codified in law, bedrock values of the management culture (including safety and security cultures) in every federal agency, what should have been different?

      3 things should have been different and, because of the continuning nature of OSC/MSPB lawbreaking, they are just as present now as at any previous time since 1978:

      1) MacLean was aware of all the legally authorized ways he could disclose SSI.

      2) MacLean would be adequately protected from reprisal and other types of prohibited personnel practices (PPPs).

      3) The President could tell MacLean, as other feds, on an objective basis, that his whistleblowing in the legally authorized ways for SSI, classified, pseudo-classified, etc info would be effective in getting the issue resolved and that he would be adequately protected from reprisal.

      Because Devine, GAP, POGO benefit from status quo, in which none of the 3 statutory obligations the gov’t owed MacLean are valid, it continues – leaving America much diminished and more threatened.

      And you carry Devine/GAP/POGO’s water, Peter. We don’t have rule of law in federal civil service, in essential part because of Devine, GAP, and POGO – 35 year-long laws are ignored with impunity – but, hey, we’ll pass some new laws – won’t that fix it? if you listen to our community’s “pied piper,” Tom Devine, you could be beguiled into thinking it will.

      I have nothing to hide and invite anyone to disput this – based on law and facts – not “Tom Devine has ‘rescued’ me, or “we can’t criticize Tom Devine, it’s too disruptive to our ‘solidarity.’

      Joe Carson, PE, “multiple-time prevaiing whistleblower” in federal civil service

      PS – Peter, I appreciate your snark and decided a channel a bit of it – Guinness World Records is now evaluating whether I merit the claim of “world’s most prevailing government whistleblower” (it may decide to qualify it to “federal civil service’s most prevailing whistleblower.” Should find out in next week or so.

      06/1/13 2:07 PM | Comment Link

    • Joe Carson said...


      P.P.S. I participated in a recent Peter B. Collins podcast about Maclean’s case and the “broken covenant” – Devine and MacLean were intervieved too, it is available at

      06/1/13 2:20 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Thank you for the article. Retroactive classification and denial of hearings are likely a far more common occurrence, thanks to the broken system and lack of level playing field.

      Abuse of authority is a deep problem in the upper echelons, whether one is talking about sex harassment and rape in the military or retroactive classification during a hearing. It is ridiculous something would be retroactively classified but there it is. Unfortunately, too often security is misrepresented and mishandled.

      I know from my own experience at State. After I wrote a long email to my local superiors, which cited concerns about grantee safety and potential discriminatory treatment in their case, and another branch at State warning of ramifications over an action that later occurred and resulted in international condemnation directed at State, i encountered “the treatment” from my local superiors. I was accused by a local superior of embarassing my local superiors when I had alerted another State office over this serious matter because that State office then got involved and expressed more serious concerns about what my local superiors wanted to carry out

      My first line accused me of a vague security violation along the way. I took to email and requested to know the policy order that had been allegedly violated. I also asked why it was absolutely okay that foreign service colleagues and contract agency colleagues, who didnt have any security clearance, could perform the very same action, as well as my office colleagues, but in my case it was suddenly deemed a security violation? I never received a response

      Later, I had my building access suddenly suspended so I could enter Main State but not my office in ECA Bureau, located in another building. No information had been provided and being a union member I contacted my union. My clearance for my building was reinstated.

      Two weeks later, ECA human resources officials and one diplomatic security officer arrived at my office to terminate my clearance and escort my from the building. I was denied a call to my union and when asked, neither person there knew the official reason for removing my clearance. They shrugged. I never had a hearing that I had requested on my situation. It should be added that three days before I was escorted from ECA bureau, I had asked for an OMbudsman and so had my union

      By failing to address work matters, problems are festering in the government and are even more serious. Nowadays, tackling rape and sex harassment in branches of the government is in vogue. But you have to ask how you got to this point — if you cannot manage essential work issues, you are going to fail at managing the life-threatening ones. How anyone can be surprised a rape victim in the military is retaliated against when retaliation is a de facto protected activity throughout our system.

      Retaliation measures need to be bolstered and given teeth. OSC, EEO, HR, and MPSB need to be critically reformed. Too often the officers in these bureaus are the LAST ONES an employee wants to go to. The officers report back to their superiors who are more interested in protecting their reputation and salaries and employees experience retaliation. The most obsequious type of personas are usually employed at these offices, not critical and objective thinkers. There were two persons in my ECA HR office and one in State’s Civil Rights office who told me I was being retaliated against. And that was brave of them to say so. What is wrong with the others then?

      MPSB and EEO are broken. About half of the judges in the main offices were not replaced during the Bush administration and career-minded ones put in those positions. Too often cases are lost and the officers working there just don’t give a damn

      As for independent resources like NGOs, unfortunately these are geared toward limiting what kind of cases they pick up. Military and security, which really need all the help they can get and far more, are so far the only kind of cases that get assistance. More resources are needed to help these kind of cases, but you shouldnt leave out other branches of the federal and state and local governments

      06/1/13 3:57 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      There are no words left to define what is happening to our nation. It’s all been said. Unfortunately, day by day, like a frog boiled before he knows the water is getting hot, the inhabitants of this country are slowly being judicially boiled alive. I firmly believe, it won’t be long before ALL Federal court trials will be declared “secret” and classified. After all…Bradley Manning’s trial is living proof.

      All it will take, is a false flag event whereby DHS crosses the line in the 2nd Amendment sand. That’s the moment vast swaths of the civilian population will be declared “terrorists” by virtue of the NDAA vs gun ownership. In reality, they’re already prepping the scenario, as the Boston lockdown is living proof. Given enough scale, nationwide Marshal Law will ensue, with gun confiscation not far behind, exponentially filling FEMA camps notwithstanding. I’ve personally seen the train cars by the hundreds, lined with chained handcuffs and leg irons, as they were manufactured right here in Oregon, and they didn’t manufacture these insidious machinations of evil for nothing. All one has to do is search youtube for the truth.

      yessireebob..day by day, trial by trial, secret by secret, murder by murder, we are being transformed into TYRANNY-R-US, and given the power of the USG now, it’s only a matter of time before full blown civil war will cover this nation in blood.

      Meanwhile, the majority of the fat, lazy, stupid imbecilic populace of this nation continue their addiction to Synthetic Lobotomy Serum via MSM fed USG propaganda, obsession with ‘merican Idol worship, Corporate Soylent Green food, and all the other mind numbing shit the permeates our so called ‘merican exceptunalism. priceless.

      Youbetcha. Boiled alive. And the ruling class is laughing their collective ass off.

      06/1/13 4:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      2 additional points:

      Agencies themselves are not quite blind to abuse of security and other problems in the government. The recent State OIG paper that was also connected to the Benghazi fallout cited page 6 or 7 that diplomatic security officers were being used to settled personnel matters that supervisors should have explored other means to address. Also, diplomatic security officers were at risk of being influenced by higher ups to affect the outcomes of investigations. That such acknowledgements are acknowledged are a milestone in themselves, sad to say. So how can we get government agencies to go to the next step — ie reform the problem??

      Second, here is a correction to what i wrote above:

      “I know from my own experience at State. After I wrote a long email to my local superiors, which cited concerns about grantee safety and potential discriminatory treatment in their case, and **I emailed** another branch at State warning of ramifications over an action that later occurred and resulted in international condemnation directed at State, i encountered “the treatment” from my local superiors. I was accused by a local superior of embarassing my local superiors when I had alerted another State office over this serious matter because that State office then got involved and expressed more serious concerns about what my local superiors wanted to carry out

      06/1/13 4:06 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”The most obsequious type of personas are usually employed at these offices, not critical and objective thinkers.” unquote

      Critical and objective thinkers. Right. Rolling on the floor in hysterics notwithstanding, when is the last time you were in a DMV office? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH!

      I’ve got some news for ya. The government doesn’t WANT critical and objective thinkers. On the contrary, what they want is wannabe BUREAUCRATS who acquiesce to government insanity at any cost . In fact, unless you simply don’t give a fuck, ANY ONE, in this day and age who decides they want to become a USG employee..IS FUCKING BRAINDEAD! After all, it doesn’t take an Einstein to see what’s in store for ya. That’s not to say there aren’t MILLIONS of Federal paycheck worshiping, could care less what happens, brain dead Federal employed bureaucrat wannabees out there in ranks of the unemployed.
      This is EXACTLY why our federal government is so fucking stupid. It’s FILLED with goddamned dimwits who will do anything the government wants..with impunity.
      In fact, some of them actually LOVE to make other people fucking miserable. I worked under a few when I was a Federal employee myself. However, it only took me a couple of years before I smelled the coffee and quit. Unfortunately, those years were the most miserable, depressing, demeaning, and unbearable years of my entire life. There were moments when I actually contemplated murder. Fortunately, I quit rather than ruin my life, although I’d payed the price given one more assault on my sanity.

      However, for those of you who STILL work for the Feds while cowering in the pits of personal compromise..fuck you. You deserve every single moment of misery you get. For a paycheck, you’ve traded your soul, your morals, your integrity, and your humanity, as you are complicit now to a regime of psychopathic murderers. Furthermore, should you continue working for these monsters, you are criminally complicit to War Crimes against humanity, as you fulfil all those little tasks that support all tyranical regimes. No matter how small of a contribution..you are complicit. PERIOD. Now fuck off assholes.

      06/1/13 4:55 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      ps..for all you who still WORK for the feds…this is what you support……


      shame on you. If you continue to support Murder Inc..you are truly shameless.

      06/1/13 5:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      What is the solution, Pitch? People with integrity, stay home, government jobs should go to the unethical, lazy, and obsequious? Don’t do …. anything?? Things are so bad, let’s just keep the status quo?? Hmm…these approaches havent been working and the system seems to be just getting fouled more and more

      There are good people in the government cause things would be a heck of a lot worse with some of the poor quality types who have the good fortune to hold a job of responsibility. Even in State, I recall dedicated FSOs and civil service who would work quietly behind the offices of some incompetent political appointees just to do the right thing for others. If only the public knew what some risked just to do the right thing, even went it meant doing their jobs lol. Such a basic thing but how frustrating

      There are conscientious government employees who do the right thing. The host of this blog and others who post here. How about Joe Darby? yeah there are others.

      Government employees who go forward with a suit to challenge wrongdoings practiced by their superiors are stygmatized enough. It’s no joke to be cast or pushed off Mount Olympus. Freefall is a personalized experience. You know what is meant here

      What is the benefit of jumping on the bandwagon against someone who is actually fighting a wrongdoing? They are no doubt getting enough from the office making false claims. But maybe that is the point yes? Pit people against each other and obscure the real problems, so these can continue

      I feel heartened when I meet a truly conscientious government employee. Yes, I meet a fair amount of the “DMV’ types but remember all those times people think oh hiring processes for government jobs don’t affect me – keep thinking that next time there is a bureacratic foul up and it’s clear experience and skills had nothing to do with that person getting that nice local/state/federal job. If there were real reform, things could be sooooo much better but apparently the cower-and-hope-they-go-for-someone-else-approach is working so swimmingly well in our increasingly bizarre system

      06/1/13 7:38 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      From Mr Carson’s quote above:

      “2) MacLean would be adequately protected from reprisal and other types of prohibited personnel practices (PPPs).

      3) The President could tell MacLean, as other feds, on an objective basis, that his whistleblowing in the legally authorized ways for SSI, classified, pseudo-classified, etc info would be effective in getting the issue resolved and that he would be adequately protected from reprisal. ”

      This is one of those strange areas. Retaliation is illegal yet it is very much a protected activity. PPPs happen all the time in these kind of cases and often agency officials have no fear in carrying out retaliation, an ironic take on the No Fear act, which is not how Congress meant it to be misused.

      What is the best way to enforce No Fear in these kind of situations? Is it going to take another act of Congress to outlaw retroactive classifications?

      06/1/13 7:50 PM | Comment Link

    • mspbwatch said...


      “What is the best way to enforce No Fear in these kind of situations? Is it going to take another act of Congress to outlaw retroactive classifications?”

      Just an FYI that the No FEAR Act doesn’t actually outlaw retaliation, it just requires reporting by agencies as to complaint numbers and requires $$$ spent on EEOC/MSPB cases to come out of the agency’s budget and not the general treasury fund. It also doesn’t give employees or citizens any rights whatsoever. What people think of when they say No FEAR Act is probably the Whistleblower Protection Act or Civil Rights Act.

      06/2/13 5:16 AM | Comment Link

    • Bea said...


      Arguing that a guy who “worked” for the perverts at the TSA is a hero because he blew the whistle on a couple of its policies and procedures is like arguing that a guard at one of the Nazis’ concentration camps is a hero because he blew the whistle on the skimpy rations. Meanwhile, the Nazis are gassing people. Mr. Whistleblower is an accomplice merely by his presence and therefore approval of that atrocity.

      The TSA sexually assaults passengers. It humiliates and preys on crippled children, survivors of cancer, anyone ill or old or emotionally fragile. It has ruined lives and sent people guilty of nothing more than forgetfulness to jail. NO ONE who “works” for this agency is anything other than scum.


      06/2/13 12:07 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      quote:”What is the solution, Pitch?”unquote

      Good question. While I can only speak for myself, I believe the answer lies in your conscience. For me, I was employed with the Federal Government during the Vietnam war, and was hired to repair F-106 electronics. Fortunately, at the time, we had REAL war coverage on MSM, such as Walter Cronkite, vs what MSM has become now, and what the American public is allowed to see of our illegal wars. In reality, during the Iraq war and on up to today, other than MSM’s USG sychophant stenography of Bushs WMD lies, once the “shock and awe” began, which to me was total military propaganda bullshit, the American public was only shown enough to pound nationalism into the public’s skull day after day after nauseating day. Had the public been allowed to see the grotesque, mindnumbing truth, there would have been outrage of biblical proportions. WMD indeed. The only weapons of mass destruction were USG lies. Unfortunately, Bradley Mannings courage is the only thing that has allowed a portion of the truth to be exposed. And you know what that cost him.

      And that my friend is the freaking point. It was only because I began to see the truth that I was able to make a serious decision to resign my position. And I NEVER regretted it. After all, hundreds of thousands of innocent people, as well as young American soldiers, were dieing..for NOTHING but the ego of political megalomaniacs and the MIC. And I couldn’t allow myself to contribute to the annihilation of human beings for a mere paycheck. That’s not to say it was easy, as at the time, around 1966, there was a recession going on and jobs were hard to come by.
      Nor has it been easy since, as our economy actually was sliding into inflation, and never stopped. Even today, as I face loosing my home at 68 years old, I don’t regret my choice, as spending 20-30 years as a civil service employee would have driven me insane, not to mention my personal view of contributing to the death of human beings, which my conscience simply would not allow. In fact, on the contrary, I became an ardent anti-war participant.

      However, I do have a suggestion. Look at these and tell me tomorrow how well you slept.




      If you can honestly say you don’t feel any responsibility , then by all means, collect your shamelessness paycheck. I on the other hand, spitting in the USG’s face notwithstanding, wouldn’t be able to sleep. And that my friend, is the difference between me, and shameless USG employees.
      And let me add this to the scenario. During the Vietnam war, hundreds of thousands of young men, believing the lies being fed to them by their beloved Government, were joining the military in the belief they were “fighting for our freedoms”, which in retrospect was a bald faced lie, just as in the Gulf war, Iraq, and Afghanistan. How many of these young soldiers who died, would have made a different choice, had they known the truth, which is, they died for Empire and the ruling class Oligarchy profits. And that is the sad part. They died from greed and lies.

      And, pray tell, where is Bush now, hmmm? Or where will Obama be when he leaves office? Living in the lap of the financial Oligarchy provided luxury, while being protected by the very taxpayers who lost loved ones due to these psychopathic war criminal lies..thats where. Not to mention the millions of innocent victims of their illegal and immoral wars, rendition, torture and outright murder notwithstanding.

      Meanwhile, current Federal employees and all the millions of people now living on a federal government pension…
      can kiss my ass, as they are just as guilty as Bush and Obama. And YOU know it. After all, Nuremberg was living proof.

      No, it’s not easy facing the truth. But at least..I can sleep knowing I made the right choice.

      06/2/13 7:01 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Kyzi Orda; Sadly my generation should have infiltrated the machine and rectified the glaring problems but we were self righteous and of course anti establishment. It didn’t help that the grim reefer made an early appearance and immobilized a generation which could have turned it around. I did my thing but it certainly wasn’t enough and the grim reefer knew better than to make his pitch to me.

      06/2/13 8:38 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bea- Air marshalls perform a valuable service in the opinion of those who fly often. We all want a country where having a law enforcement agent on board is no longer needed. Until then the idea isn’t bureaucratic featherbedding.

      06/2/13 9:34 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Ok, on a side note, looks like the Dos hasn’t got anything up on the IRS…except maybe dancing. These IRS people look like complete clowns.


      And to think, the IRS spent a whopping $4 MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS on this little shindig. Meanwhile, they outright terrorize the “little people”, or outright imprison them for 30 years, like the Browns. Meanwhile people like Romeny are allowed to send their millions “offshore”. priceless

      In reality, the IRS are simply the collection thugs for the ruling class. Btw, ever researched the IRS? Talk about a money trail. Look up Trust 62. But be prepared for an “enlightening moment”. I spent 10 yrs on a journey of enlightenment once i discovered it. And it wasn’t nice. This is why I don’t believe one stinking word the USG says.

      06/2/13 10:02 PM | Comment Link

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