An experienced military whistleblower in charge of whistleblower protection programs for the 17 agencies in the intelligence community is himself now embroiled in a whistleblower retaliation dispute with his former Pentagon bosses.
Dan Meyer, after nearly three years working as executive director for intelligence community whistleblowing and source protection, has complained to the Merit Systems Protection Board saying he experienced retaliation from superiors when he was the whistleblower protection ombudsman for the Defense Department based in the IG’s office.
The reasons, Meyer’s complaint argues, include his record in exposing “public corruption” and the fact that he is gay, as noted by McClatchy Newspapers, which broke the story on Tuesday. The controversy also raises questions about whether the Pentagon IG’s office is biased against whistleblowers.
Meyer previously clashed with Pentagon watchdog officials such as Henry Shelley, now general counsel, and Lynne Halbrooks, the former acting IG and now a private attorney. Those disputes stemmed from disagreements over the handling of a series of cases. The most prominent one was the DoD IG’s investigation into whether then-CIA Director Leon Panetta made public to the filmmakers of “Zero Dark Thirty” the classified names of Navy Seals who conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Meyer was accused of leaking a draft to Congress, a version that was subsequently softened.
Meyer is also at odds with the Pentagon IG over alleged retaliation for his pro-whistleblower activism. He sought to bring in as a sworn witness to the discrimination another former high official in the DoD office, John Crane. He was Meyer’s former boss and has himself filed a complaint against the Defense Department IG’s office, which is being investigated by the Justice Department Office of Inspector General.
Crane, profiled by Government Executive in May and who only recently made his name public, has charged DoD IG staff with destroying documents relating to a decade-old investigation into National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake. Crane submitted sworn testimony to the MSPB in the Meyer case arguing that Shelley and Halbrooks were pro-management and had sought to discredit Meyer, whom Crane considered a talented and valuable whistleblower advocate. The Crane case is also under review by the Office of Special Counsel.
Hallbrooks, in an email statement to Government Executive, said, "During my time at the Office of Inspector General, I strongly supported the rights of whistleblowers throughout the Department of Defense. I am confident that any government agency’s review of Mr. Meyer’s allegations will find them to be without merit."
Both the Crane and Meyer cases are being followed by senators. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, accused the DoD IG of creating an environment that frustrates valid whistleblowers. Crane and Meyer were instrumental in setting up the IG’s Office of Civilian Reprisal Investigations, which provides civilian whistleblowers with an easier burden of proof than what is available to whistleblowers in the military.
The DoD Inspector General’s Office, currently run on an acting basis by veteran IG Glenn Fine, issued the following statement to Government Executive: “We are precluded from commenting on anyone's potential MSPB matter. The DoD OIG will fully address any matter that is filed with the MSPB in the appropriate forum.”
I. Charles McCullough III, Intelligence Community inspector general, told Government Executive, “The matters in the MSPB filing predate when we hired Dan in 2013 and aren’t related to his current job. For the past several years he has been a tremendous addition to our team and laid the foundation for the Intelligence Community Whistleblowing Program. I couldn’t be happier with his performance as a leader and trusted adviser.”
Meyer this February wrote to the OSC about his early days at the Pentagon, “Within the first few months of hiring in 2004, I was under the impression that both my fidelity to title 5’s Merit System principles for Defense civilian appropriate fund employees and my status as a homosexual would heavily qualify my chances of professional success within the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Defense.” The OSC in April declined to take his case.
Tom Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project who represents Crane, told Government Executive that Crane is suffering because he wouldn’t cooperate with Shelley and Halbrooks to get Meyer out of the Pentagon IG’s office. “Meyer was frustrating Mr. Shelley’s anti-whistleblower policies,” Devine said, and “Crane was running interference by getting approval for a structure that allowed Meyer to work autonomously with whistleblowers. I’m not sure which is more important to Shelley,” Devine added, the fact that Meyer is gay or that he was best thing that happened to Pentagon whistleblowers in many years. He went to war against both, and both are unacceptable.”