Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Sacking the Watchmen 

Via Sam Smith's Undernews, the online report of the Progressive Review (and a site that we will henceforth be visiting daily), a story that epitomizes the current administration's approach to transparency and accountability:
The U.S. Special Counsel, the principal protector of federal whistleblower and merit system rights, has abruptly ordered more than 20 percent of his headquarters legal and investigative staff to relocate or be fired. According to a letter of protest filed today by three national whistleblower watchdog groups, those targeted for forced moves are all career employees hired before Bloch became Special Counsel, as part of a purge to stifle dissent and re-staff the agency with handpicked loyalists . . . .

"This crude purge attempt is just the latest stage in Scott Bloch's reign of terror at the Special Counsel," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch who referred to Bloch's previous issuance of gag orders to staff directing them not to discuss problems with the office. "The only thing this Special Counsel has brought to the merit system is new techniques for circumventing it."

"The irony is overwhelming:­ how could the federal protector of whistleblowers make a bigger mockery of his agency's mission than this?" asked Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight, adding that members of Congress have already called for Bloch's removal and employees may now have to rely on Congress to intervene to stop the move. "The pattern of behavior from the Special Counsel certainly indicates he took this job to dismantle the office, rather than its mission."
Another Undernews item that deserves your attention: Smith's "Missing Points in the Social Security Debate."

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