US Customs and Border Protection is engaging in “blatant and illegal mistreatment” of three whistleblowers — even employing the wife of an official who retaliated against them to field congressional inquiries about their cases, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).CBP employees Fred Wynn, Mike Taylor and Mark Jones have faced professional and financial consequences for more than five years after they called out a decade-long failure by their agency to collect DNA from detainees.But even after appealing to several independent federal investigators, the trio remains in “constructive retirement,” a source previously told The Post.CBP has also stonewalled efforts by Grassley to learn why the agency ignored a request from one of those watchdogs, the US Office of Special Counsel, to end the retaliation and provide transparency about the handling of their cases.Grassley — who has been called “the patron saint of whistleblowers” — sent three letters between August and September to the Department of Homeland Security over the matter but was denied any information.CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller has also directed further inquiries to the agency’s deputy assistant commissioner of congressional affairs, who happens to be married to one of the officials who retaliated against the whistleblowers.“CBP’s persistent efforts to shirk responsibility for retaliating against whistleblowers is unacceptable,” Grassley told The Post.“What’s more, CBP’s decision to involve an employed relative of one of the alleged retaliators shows either a disturbing lack of awareness on the part of the agency, or a complete disregard for the gravity of this situation,” he said.“CBP must avoid all conflicts of interest and immediately take the appropriate steps to rectify its blatant and illegal mistreatment of these whistleblowers.”A CBP spokesperson said the agency “takes whistleblower protection seriously and has policies and procedures in place to protect whistleblowers. As this matter is still in active litigation, CBP is limited in its capacity to respond.”Wynn, Taylor and Jones served in CBP’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Division from 2016 to 2018, which was shut down after they made protected disclosures about their division not implementing the DNA Fingerprint Act since 2009.The US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) later found that CBP’s “noncompliance with the law has allowed subjects subsequently accused of violent crimes, including homicide and sexual assault to elude detection even when detained multiple times by CBP or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”Special Counsel Henry Kerner informed then-President Donald Trump and members of Congress of the failure in an Aug. 21, 2019 letter, referring to the lapse as “an unacceptable dereliction of the agency’s law enforcement mandate.”As many as 5 million people may have evaded DNA detection between 2009 and 2019, Kerner also said.In a Dec. 2, 2021, letter, OSC announced its investigation into the retaliations had found CBP at fault and it was “approaching the agency for corrective action.”CBP initially told The Post that OSC did not seek “corrective action” but in its latest missive to Grassley clarified that the independent investigative agency “did not initiate corrective action litigation” and told the whistleblowers instead to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.That legal appeal is still ongoing, along with subsequent appeals for the DHS Office of the Inspector General and DHS Office of the General Counsel to investigate the situation.A source familiar with the proceeding told The Post Friday that the whistleblowers voluntarily dismissed their claim to have been stripped of their credentials, badges and guns after bringing it before the merit board.Meanwhile, Miller told Grassley to reach out to CBP’s congressional affairs official, Stephanie Talton, who is the wife of George Talton, the acting director of the Operational Field Testing Division, where the whistleblowers now serve.Grassley previously disclosed instances in which the acting director had further retaliated against the whistleblowers, even after OSC concluded its probe.
27 Ekim 2023 - 00:35
CBP accused of 'blatant and illegal mistreatment' of whistleblowers: Grassley
US Customs and Border Protection is engaging in “blatant and illegal mistreatment” of three whistleblowers — even employing the wife of an official who retaliated against them to field congre…
27 Ekim 2023 - 00:35