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Uncle Sam Wants Names of VA Whistleblowers; POGO Protects Identities

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 16, 2014 9:05 AM |

You do not need to read my blog to know the Veterans Administration has some serious issues that have impacted the health and well being of countless veterans. These issues are not new developments.

Very simply, the failures within the VA are due to a government that is badly mismanaged and often engaged in practices that are fraudulent, if not totally corrupt.

The VA has not only failed countless numbers of veterans but, in adding insult to injury, it has punished those internally who have tried to do the right thing. How so?

Whistleblowers who have brought attention to the fraud and corruption within the VA have not been embraced but rather ignored, intimidated, and often fired. As we well know, mismanagement, fraud, and corruption much prefer the cover of darkness than the light of transparency.

The VA may want to have us believe that they have a practice that prevents reprisals against whistleblowers but, as displayed in today’s New York Times, the reality displays a stark contrast. So if you are an employee of the VA, would you run the very real risk of losing your job by bringing information to the Inspector General of the organization? Maybe not. Might you prefer to seek out an organization that has a longstanding tradition of pursuing real transparency within the government and protecting whistleblowers in the process? Looks a little more appealing.

In fact, that organization, the Project on Government Oversight, has been inundated with information from whistleblowers within the VA. How is Uncle Sam, in the personage of the IG’s Office at the VA responding? They have issued a subpoena demanding that POGO turn over the names of the whistleblowers. POGO recently issued the following letter entitled We Won’t Reveal Our Sources in response:

If you’ve been following the news about the growing scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs, you may have seen that the VA’s Inspector General has issued a subpoena to the Project On Government Oversight demanding we turn over the names of all VA whistleblowers who have contacted us in the last month.

The deadline for us to comply with the subpoena passed at 10 a.m.

We’re writing this email to keep you updated on this serious threat to our mission. Under no circumstances does POGO plan to release any information that would compromise whistleblowers.

It has not happened in our 33-year history. It’s not going to happen now.

Over the years, the government has tried to force us to reveal our sources several times, including a subpoena for my home phone records. We have prevailed every time. And we will prevail this time.

We believe the IG’s attempt to get our records violates not only our constitutional rights but it also sends a chilling message to anyone who might speak out about corruption or mismanagement within the VA.

In the last few days, we’ve received encouragement and support from many of our friends and supporters. Sen. Tom Coburn sent a letter to the VA IG questioning the reasons for the subpoena.  Peter Van Buren, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer who blew the whistle on policy failures he witnessed in Iraq, summed up what’s at stake in a terrific column, which we posted here.

For now, we’re waiting for the IG to make the next move, which we hope involves a realization that its subpoena is terribly misguided. However, if that doesn’t happen, we’re going to need your support, whether it’s sending emails to the IG, signing petitions or contributing to our fight against the subpoena. I will give you another update next week.

With sincere appreciation for your support,

Danielle Brian
Executive Director

POGO’s response to the IG

Associated Press report

Sen. Coburn’s letter to the IG (LD’s edit: A great read.) 

Where are those within the Obama administration and elsewhere on Capitol Hill who want to do the right thing by the veterans and would tell the VA’s IG to stand down and retract this subpoena?

If Washington truly cares about the veterans, I would recommend they embrace POGO and the information they have gathered so the appropriate corrective measures can be taken and those engaged in the mismanagement, fraud, and corruption can be exposed.

I welcome supporting POGO and its great work. I hope you will, as well.

Navigate accordingly.

Larry Doyle

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