Thursday, September 01, 2005

Banished Whistle-Blowers

The New York Times

Banished Whistle-Blowers

The Bush administration is making no secret of its determination to punish whistle-blowers and other federal workers who object to the doctoring of facts that clash with policy and spin. The blatant retaliation includes the Army general sidelined for questioning the administration's projections about needed troop strength in Iraq, the Medicare expert muted when he tried to inform Congress about the true cost of the new prescription subsidies and the White House specialist on climate change who was booted after complaining that global warming statistics were being massaged by political tacticians.

We agree with critics like Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat, who has tracked a long list of abused federal workers who should be applauded, not penalized, for their dedication. The latest victims include Bunnatine Greenhouse, a career civilian manager at the Pentagon. She was demoted from her job as the top contract overseer of the Army Corps of Engineers after she complained of irregularities in the awarding of a multibillion-dollar no-bid Iraq contract to a subsidiary of Halliburton, the Texas-based oil services company run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president.

Ms. Greenhouse made complaints internally, then publicly, describing the contract as "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed." Recently, Ms. Greenhouse was ordered removed for "poor performance," just as unfairly as the administration forced out Lawrence Greenfeld as director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Mr. Greenfeld's sin was to stand fast against senior political appointees intent on watering down a study's finding that blacks and Hispanics were subject to more searches and force in police traffic stops.

Damage control is a political hallmark of any administration. But the Bush team is taking it to the most destructive extreme.