The FBI‘s internal whistleblower protocols provide little to no recourse for bureau employees who flag wrongdoing and then suffer retaliation, according to a prominent lawyer for whistleblowers who said they typically end up battling an arduous administrative process that rarely results in their favor.
That harsh assessment of the process is backed up by Justice Department data tracking the outcomes of whistleblower cases.
“The FBI [whistleblower] program is like every program which the agency self-selects for employees who keep their mouth shut,” whistleblower lawyer Dan Meyer said in an interview with The Washington Times.
Whistleblowers recently have been in the spotlight in Washington as a flood of FBI workers has alerted Congress to politically motivated investigations, biased leadership and misconduct by senior officials at America’s premier law enforcement agency.
But the FBI‘s whistleblower program has been under scrutiny for decades. Critics of every political stripe say the agency begrudgingly or outright refuses to investigate allegations from its rank-and-file agents about the leadership’s lousy behavior.
For example, the DOJ received 122 FBI whistleblower reprisal cases in 2022, including 28 cases backlogged from the previous year. Of the 122 cases, only one case — that’s 0.008% — resulted in a finding that there had been a reprisal. Another two cases were settled.
The infrequency of DOJ investigations authenticating FBI whistleblower reprisal complaints is similar for the past decade, regardless of which party controls the White House or Congress.
Mr. Meyer, who previously led whistleblower investigations for the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office, said that finding reprisals in less than 1% of the cases was evidence of an obvious coverup.
Lawyers specializing in whistleblower cases tend to agree that FBI whistleblowers face an unfair system that Congress should overhaul.
“We clearly need better statutory protections,” tweeted Tristan Leavitt, a lawyer for FBI whistleblower Marcus Allen who recently told Congress he was retaliated against for questioning the official narrative surrounding the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Leavitt said the stance on appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board demonstrates that the FBI continues to trample on the rights of whistleblowers.
“Time has demonstrated, in my opinion, that it was a mistake to exclude the FBI from the standard whistleblower protection process,” he said. “It discourages integrity and encourages deceit and even corruption.”