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The Justice Department (DOJ), which has led the most vicious crackdown on whistleblowers in our country's history, is creating a whistleblower Ombudsman in its Office of Inspector General, which you can read about here and here.

This is an redundant, cosmetic, and dangerous move that I predict will, at best, do nothing and, at worst, entrap whistleblowers.  The Inspector General's office already is where whistleblowers are supposed to go.  

In accordance with the Inspector General Act of 1978 and DOJ's own Inspector General website, the IG is ALREADY supposed to "detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in DOJ programs." The IG's creation of an Ombudsman is a tacit admission that their IG is a tacit admission that it has failed protect whistleblowers who call attention to Department misconduct and illegality.

As a Justice Department ethics attorney, when I blew the whistle in the case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh to the DOJ IG, they referred me for criminal prosecution, to the State bars where I'm licensed as an attorney, and the "No-Fly List."

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Inspector General's offices, which are supposed to operate independently within agencies, are already suspect. Every major federal agency has an Office of Inspector General to Investigate complaints of fraud, waste, abuse and illegality.

Many employees have a quixotic view of the IG as a kind of knight in shining armor--an outside, objective force riding over the hill to make all right within the agency.  This reliance is misplaced.  The IG is a bureaucracy just like any other, with all the dysfunctions, politics, and limitations of any government section.  

There have been numerous examples of Inspectors General retaliating against whistleblowers and turning the whistleblower into a target.  Often, the only real investigation that emanates from the IG centers not on the problem but on who raised the problem. It is not unusual for the employee who made the report of misconduct to find him or herself the subject of the real investigation.

This is what happened to me in 2002, and more recently to Tom Drake more recently. The most hostile climate ever against whistleblowers makes organizations like my own grateful for any small step professes to protect whistleblowers.  But from what I have seen over the last decade, these internal remedial channels not only fail, they often entrap the whistleblower.

Whistleblowers need access to federal court, not more "independent" internal agency offices or "special" toy court forums like the Merit Systems Protection Board, which has monopoly jurisdiction over all whistleblower claims.

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