Biden’s DOJ violated federal law when suspending whistleblowers security clearances

by | May 15, 2024

According to a memo released Tuesday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Department of Justice under Joe Biden did not comply with federal protections when suspending whistleblowers' security clearances.

The OIG discovered that the Justice Department lacks a mechanism for employees to appeal suspended security clearances, which violates a federal regulation updated in 2022. The memo noted that the DOJ under Biden did not offer employees a reasonable chance to remain on the federal payroll if they believed their clearance was suspended as retaliation for whistleblower activities.

The Office of the Inspector General announced in a press release that the Department of Justice's current practices conflict with the intent of federal statutes. In a report dated May 18, 2023, House Republicans accused the FBI of retaliating against FBI special agents Stephen Friend and Garret O’Boyle, as well as FBI staff operations specialist Marcus Allen, for their criticisms of the agency. O’Boyle stated that his unpaid suspension by the FBI left his family effectively homeless. The OIG indicated that these issues came to light after receiving complaints from employees alleging that their security clearances were suspended in retaliation for protected whistleblowing activities.

The OIG highlighted that while the Department of Justice offers an appeals process for employees whose security clearances are revoked, there is no similar pathway for those whose clearances are suspended pending a final decision. The OIG identified this as problematic because federal law mandates that the DOJ must provide a means for whistleblowers to challenge suspensions longer than a year as retaliatory.

According to the OIG memo, the DOJ does not meet legal requirements because it lacks a mechanism for employees who suspect retaliation to contest suspensions lasting longer than a year.

Losing security clearance often renders DOJ employees unable to perform their duties, as many positions require such clearance. Consequently, employees with suspended clearances are frequently suspended from their jobs without pay.

Federal law requires that individuals who believe their security clearance was suspended by the DOJ in retaliation for whistleblowing must be allowed, as far as practical, to retain their government employment status during the suspension.

The OIG also found that the DOJ's existing policies pose a risk of the security process being misused to inappropriately pressure employees to resign.

 

Read the OIG report here.

Source: The New York Post

Source: The Daily Caller

 

 

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