FRONT ROYAL, VA — Over the years I’ve met countless folks in the federal bureaucracy who hate their jobs.
But they love their country.
And now is their time.
Alexander Butterfield was a political footnote until the Watergate Committee heard his bombshell about the Oval Office tape recorder.
Nobody ever heard of Bradley Manning before he released the explosive files that challenged George W. Bush’s triumphant Iraq narrative.
Edward Snowden revelations about the government’s illegal Thought Police changed history.
And right now, 100 patriots in the bureaucracy can save America.
Once upon a time, the label pinned on the bureaucracy read “Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.”
That was then. Now it’s “Crime.” It’s hidden, but it’s not unnoticed.
...throughout the bureaucracy there are career employees who could reveal the government-wide perfidy that threatens to bring our country down. ... But they’re afraid to do anything about it — and for good reason.
And throughout the bureaucracy there are career employees who could reveal the government-wide perfidy that threatens to bring our country down.
They know every player — every crafty corner-cutter, every criminal flouting of the law, and every Capo who makes sure the gang shoots straight.
But they’re afraid to do anything about it — and for good reason.
“You Can Only Quit Once”
This past March, David Wright, the director of the Office of Research Integrity at HHS, quit in disgust. HHS is “dysfunctional,” he told his boss, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh.
Did Mr. Koh revamp and reform the agency? Was Mr. Wright promoted for his honesty in the face of agency hostility?
Have you even heard of Mr. Wright?
No, he left quietly, and was quickly — and gratefully — forgotten.
What about his fellow workers? Surely they knew he was telling the truth. Did they stand up and cheer?
No, they trembled. The same way they tremble when they hear the news that one of their colleagues has actually been fired. Vaporized. Adiós.
Terminations and outraged resignations are so rare in the bureaucracy that employees coast to coast quickly learn about them through the office grapevine.
“Chris, you can only quit once,” a State Department employee told me years ago. He was fed up. He had watched his superior break the law repeatedly. He finally came to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and testified about it publicly.
The leaders of both parties on the Foreign Relations Committee applauded his character and ended the career of his malevolent boss.
Dozens of IRS agents and employees know the truth behind the Lerner-Koskinen scandals — and they are scared stiff.
Did the State Department ¨professionals¨ stand up and cheer? No. They trashed the honest guy’s career, and celebrated the malefactor – with a vengeance, doing their best around the world to ruin the careers of his critics, as well.
But wait, there´s more.
Beyond the attacks on her reputation and career, the truth-telling career government employee faces other serious obstacles.
She could lose her pension — one of the most generous in the country, guaranteed by the taxpayer in perpetuity.
She could lose her health care — and that’s serious, because it is not subject to Obamacare. That government benefit is so precious that countless staffers on Capitol Hill have “retired” and been re-hired so they would not be subject to Obamacare´s “exchanges.”
And she would lose her professional future. Countless government employees retire and then become “consultants” to their old agencies, while drawing their full pensions. One mid-level State Department employee did so, founding a company to perform the same work he did as a staffer.
He recently sold the company for $6 million, according to news reports.
That´s how the system works. Tell the truth once — quit once — and you lose it all.
Saving the VA, Saving Lives
In June, the Washington Times reported that fifty employees at the Veterans Administration suffered retaliation from their superiors for reporting the horrific conditions at their hospitals.
Perhaps that´s why Secretary Shinseki never heard a discouraging word from his incompetent senior executives.
Please note that, while he was forced to resign, they weren’t.
The New York Times recently described how Alan Mulally reformed Ford Motor Company after he became CEO in 2006.
During his first few weeks on the job, senior executives gave rosy accounts of operations in their divisions at their weekly meetings.
One Congressman has suggested a million-dollar prize for the person who can recover Lois Lerner’s “lost” emails. That person will need it, because he’ll never eat lunch in this town again, and the IRS will harass him, ... He might even be risking his life.
“Mulally finally said, ‘We’re going to lose billions of dollars this year. Is there anything that’s not going well here?’ When one executive decided to admit to a serious problem at the Thursday meeting, he — and the other executives — assumed he would be fired. Instead Mulally starting clapping: ‘Great visibility,’ he said. That executive, Mark Fields, is about to succeed Mulally as Ford’s next chief executive.”
Shinseki’s nominated successor, former Procter and Gamble CEO Robert McDonald, comes from a finely-tuned corporate structure that relies on teamwork, honesty, and skill. He will confront a floundering bureaucratic culture that represents the exact opposite.
Will his executives suddenly start telling the truth at those weekly meetings?
Rise Up, Ye Huddled Masses!
David Wright told the truth about HHS and quit. His relieved colleagues said “Good Riddance,” and kept the party going.
Yet there are thousands more David Wrights still in government who know enough to bring the criminals in every department to justice. But they have a lot to lose if they tell the truth.
Take the IRS alone. Dozens of IRS agents and employees know the truth behind the Lerner-Koskinen scandals — and they are scared stiff. Their despicable Director just stonewalled House investigators, sending his employees a message: “Rat on me, and you’re dead meat.”
Same goes for Eric Holder’s ideological ransacking of the Justice Department. Countless other agencies offer excellent targets.
What is to be done?
One Congressman has suggested a million-dollar prize for the person who can recover Lois Lerner’s “lost” emails. That person will need it, because he’ll never eat lunch in this town again, and the IRS will harass him, his extended family, and his friends forever. He might even be risking his life.
Telling the truth costs plenty. So why not have Congress offer $1 million for each member of a brave army of truthtellers whose combined evidence could pull the plug on the whole rotten Leviathan?
Hundreds of billions were lost to graft and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. Why not a measly $100 million to compensate one hundred stalwart patriots whose testimony could turn the country around?
Freedom’s trumpet calls. Will they rise up?
From Under the Rubble archives
From Under the Rubble is copyright © 2014
by Christopher Manion.
All rights reserved.
Christopher Manion served as a staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for many years. He has taught in the departments of politics, religion, and international relations at Boston University, the Catholic University of America, and Christendom College.
Email Dr. Manion
See a complete biographical sketch.
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