BY Staff WritersMay 17, 2024
1 month ago
BY 
 | May 17, 2024
1 month ago

FBI Accused Of Targeting Whistleblowers With Security Clearance Suspensions, Report Reveals

A recent inspector general's report has cast a shadow on the FBI's treatment of its whistleblowers, revealing a troubling practice of suspending security clearances.

The FBI has been found to employ security clearance suspensions to sideline whistleblowers, a practice that has left many agents in employment limbo for extended periods.

According to the New York Post, Inspector General Michael Horowitz forwarded the report to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Tuesday.

It emphasized a systemic issue and documented cases where the suspended agents' careers and lives were disrupted by lengthy investigations into their whistleblower activities.

Lack of Protective Measures for FBI Whistleblowers

The findings revealed a significant number of FBI employees, with over 100 agents left hanging for nearly 18 months on average.

This situation raised concerns about the mental and financial well-being of those affected. Critics argue that the process lacks transparency and does not conform to the principles meant to protect whistleblowers.

One extreme example cited in the report involved an FBI agent suspended without pay for more than two years. Only after significant intervention by the inspector general's office could the agent file a retaliation complaint, highlighting severe procedural deficiencies.

Representatives from Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research backed these claims, notably in the case of Marcus Allen, an FBI whistleblower. His mistreatment triggered the internal investigation that revealed these issues.

Congress Responds to Allegations of Retaliation

Following the report's release, congressional hearings were held to address these issues. In May 2023, former FBI agents Marcus Allen, Garret O’Boyle, and Steve Friend testified before the House Judiciary Committee, sharing their personal experiences of believed retaliation by the bureau.

Their testimonies corroborated the inspector general's report, showing how the FBI allegedly used security clearance suspension to pressure agents.

Addressed by the committee in April 2023, ex-FBI Executive Assistant Director of Human Resources Jennifer Leigh Moore firmly denied these allegations. Moore stated, “The FBI does not use a suspension as a punitive measure. It is only utilized in national security matters.” She also emphasized the FBI’s stance on whistleblowers: “We appreciate a whistleblower; we require employees to report misconduct.”

Public Outcry and Recommendations for Change

The discrepancies between the report’s findings and the FBI’s official stance have led to public and political upheaval.

Tristan Leavitt, a notable figure in whistleblower advocacy, expressed a succinct critique, “The Justice Department IG today confirmed what we knew all along: the FBI has been illegally abusing the security clearance process to retaliate against whistleblowers.”

Furthermore, criticism was not confined to advocacy groups. Jason Foster, an advocate for civil liberties, described the situation as the FBI creating “a bureaucratic box designed to force employees to resign by withholding their pay and any meaningful appeal rights until they have to choose between vindication and feeding their families.”

These public statements and the detailed findings of the inspector general’s report have stirred Congress and other entities to consider significant reform.

Suggestions have been made to redefine policies to better safeguard whistleblowers, ensuring they are not victimized through retaliatory tactics like security clearance suspensions.

Conclusion: The Need for a Stringent Review Process

The inspector general's report and subsequent testimonies reveal a critical need for federal law enforcement to review and amend its policies regarding whistleblowers. The stories of affected FBI agents underscore the emotional and financial toll these practices can take.

Congressional hearings and recommendations aim to bolster whistleblower protections and correct the identified shortcomings within the FBI's administrative protocols, helping to ensure that such abuses are prevented in the future.

Written by: Staff Writers

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