DOJ IG called to investigate whistleblowers' safety

Monday - 7/2/2012, 8:45pm EDT

By Taeja Smith
Special to Federal News Radio

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate whether preventive steps to protect whistleblowers in the Fast and Furious investigation are effective.

Issa and Grassley requested the investigation after a series of potential inflammatory comments allegedly made by Scot Thomasson, chief of public affairs division at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), that threaten retaliation against the whistleblowers.

The lawmakers said Thomasson, who now supervises the whistleblowers, made "detailed hostile and extremely negative comments."

Grassley and Issa wrote a letter , to Michael Horowitz, DoJ's IG, asking for more details on the steps the agency is taking to protect whistleblowers.

Grassley and Issa have asked the the inspector general to investigate:

  • How the agency admonished the ATF official?
  • Why the ATF elevated the official and gave him supervisory duties over the whistleblowers?
  • What steps are the agency taking to protect the whistleblowers from potential retaliation from Thomasson?

Grassley and Issa disclosed whistleblower allegations to ATF about Operation Fast and Furious on Jan. 27, 2011. When asked if the ATF allegations were true, Thomasson, said 'he didn't know and didn't care," according to a report sent to the IG June 29. Thomasson also allegedly said, "All these whistleblowers have axes to grind." The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's memorandum made this information public May 3.

Justice has until July 6 to respond to the lawmakers' letter.

DoJ didn't immediately return a request for comment on the lawmakers' letter.

Taeja Smith is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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