Friday, October 29, 2004

Thank You, Whistleblowers! Says Justice Dept.

The conservative newspaper, Washington Times, quoting their rival, the Washington Post, reports on the widening Halliburton probe:
Reports: Halliburton investigation widens
Washington, DC,   Oct. 29 (UPI) --

The FBI has widened its investigation into allegations of improprieties in Iraq and Kuwait by a Halliburton Co. subsidiary, published reports said Friday.

The Washington Post said agents broadened the investigation of subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. by requesting an interview with a Pentagon official who raised the allegations.

The Pentagon official has complained the Army gave the Halliburton subsidiary preferential treatment in granting it a $7 billion classified contract to restore Iraq's oil fields just before the war began, the Post said.

The official is Bunnatine Greenhouse, a senior Army Corps of Engineers civilian responsible for ensuring contracting competition.

In a letter her lawyers wrote to Army Secretary Lee Brownlee and provided to members of Congress, she has said Army officials did not justify the award or show that Kellogg had "unique attributes," as required by procurement law, the Post said.
It turns out the the Washington Post also ran a story, that at first appears to be unrelated, but which also pertains to whistleblowers:
Justice Department Opposition Holds Up Whistle-Blower Measures
By Stephen Barr
Tuesday, October 26, 2004; Page B02

Bipartisan efforts in Congress to help protect federal employees who become whistle-blowers appear to be stalled because of opposition from the Justice Department.

Bills in the House and Senate would clarify congressional intent in cases where agencies take reprisals against federal employees who risk their jobs when they disclose waste, fraud and abuse in government.

The issue of whistle-blower rights has taken on some urgency in the past year, in part because some lawmakers worry that current statutory protections are inadequate and discourage federal employees from bringing their concerns about national defense and homeland security issues to the Congress.

The House and Senate bills, while different in some aspects, would rein in the authority of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to interpret some parts of whistle-blower law and would write into law the "anti-gag" riders that Congress includes in appropriations bills to encourage federal employees to speak up about wrongdoing in their agencies. [...]

But because of opposition from the Justice Department, the bills have not been scheduled for floor votes, even though they have been approved by committees, congressional aides said.

In a letter to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee,   William E. Moschella, assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, called the Senate bill "burdensome, unnecessary and unconstitutional." [...]
Hmmm.  The company that still pays a salary to the Vice President gets burned by a whistleblower, and now the Justice Department is opposing legislation that would protect whistleblowers?  And they are succeeding in holding up the legislation?  Ironically, the guy who is complaining that the bill would be "unconstitutional" is not abiding by the constitutional separation of powers.  Note also: the law would rein in the power of judges to interpret some parts of the existing whistleblower laws.  And this is opposed by the Administration that deplores the actions of "activist judges?"

“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice"