Immigration Service Refuses to Release 6,000 Pages in Whistleblower Case

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Robert MacLean
Government whistleblower Robert MacLean has lost his fight to obtain documents from an agency that conducted retaliatory investigations against him after he accused the Bush administration of putting dollars before anti-terrorism measures to protect airline passengers.
MacLean was fired in 206 from his job as an air marshal after he told the media of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s plan to remove air marshals from long-distance flights in order to save money. MacLean’s disclosure resulted in Congress criticizing TSA leaders, who then terminated the 10-year law enforcement officer for revealing the agency’s cost-cutting plans. TSA argued that MacLean should have known he was disclosing “sensitive security information,” despite the fact it was not labeled accordingly. MacLean appealed his dismissal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, which ruled against him.
The whistleblower then filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service to obtain documents pertaining to retaliatory investigations conducted by the Federal Air Marshal Service against him and several other whistleblowers. The request was denied.
ICE said it had located more than six thousand pages of material detailing the retaliatory probes, but that it would not release them because to do so would compromise “the privacy interests” of those who did the investigating.
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) accused the government of misusing the FOIA to shield managers responsible for conducting “excessive and illegal investigations” of workers like MacLean.
“This decision is terrible,” wrote Shanna Devine, GAP’s legislative coordinator. “These continued witch hunts are even worse.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff


Shanna Devine 12 years ago
While MacLean lost at the administrative judge level (he's in good company - the judge that ruled against him has a track record of 179-0 against employees for the past two years), an appeal is currently pending before the full Merit Systems Protection Board.

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