New Protections for Whistleblowers at Department of Justice
The Justice Department created a position to protect whistleblowers. The “Whistleblower Ombudsman” is the first one of its kind and comes in the wake of blowback from Operation Fast & Furious.
Fast & Furious was a gunwalking scheme out of the DOJ. High powered weapons were put into the hands of drug cartels leading to the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and 300+ Mexicans. 1,000+ weapons are still missing.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he’s already seen how whistleblowers help the department save money, improve the operations, and protect the public’s safety. The Whistleblower Ombudsman will be in charge of training employees how whistleblowers actually help the department and the legal protections available to whistleblowers. The ombudsman will also monitor any investigation of alleged retaliation.
“In light of Operation Fast and Furious, this position is especially necessary at the Justice Department. Time and again, information provided by whistleblowers, most often at significant risk to their own livelihoods and reputations, has proven to be tremendously valuable,” said Senator Charles Grassley. “Without whistleblowers, mismanagement, abuse and wrongdoing would go undetected. This effort is an important first step and, to be effective, the ombudsman needs to appreciate these realities and stand up to intense pressure from agencies to discredit whistleblowers. The ombudsman needs to be a tireless advocate for whistleblowers.”
The Fast & Furious whistleblowers suffered retaliation for their efforts. On Tuesday, Agent Peter Forcelli settled his case of alleged retaliation. In a June 2011 hearing he told a House panel he told his supervisors about his concerns, but they were dismissed. After his testimony prosecutors in Arizona did everything they could to discredit him.
Agent Forcelli told FOX News he had to relocate and short sale his home for a loss of almost $200,000. His wife had to quit her job and his daughter was forced to leave the college that awarded her a scholarship worth $82,000.
Another whistleblower, Agent Larry Alt, was transferred to an administrative job and received a poor work evaluation because he raised concerns during Fast & Furious.