Friday, June 16, 2006

9/11 Criminal Behavior Unpunished, Layers of Whistleblowers Pay the Price

(AP) A disaster supply management company stole items donated for 9/11, shipped them to Minnesota and sold them on the open market. Employees of Keiger Industries said they saw the company steal 45 tons of goods valued at several hundred thousand dollars, including donated bottled water, clothes, tools, and generators. After reporting their concerns to a company executive, the two men were ordered to keep quiet. Instead they went to the FBI.

The whistleblowers paid the price, losing their job, receiving death threats, and getting blackballed from the disaster relief industry. They hoped justice would be done but to date no charges have been filed for the theft of items in question and the FBI has curious reason for not doing so. It claims it would have to prosecute FBI agents, a top FBI executive and the Secretary of Defense for making off with 9/11 souvenirs.

The lead FBI agent on the case, Jane Turner said the government became “very conscious of the fact that if they proceeded in one direction, they would have to proceed in the other, which meant prosecuting FBI agents." As a result of the FBI’s inaction Ms. Turner became a whistleblower alleging the bureau tried to fire her for bringing the stolen artifacts to light.

End result of the case, the company has not been charged with the thefts to date. The two KEI employee whistleblowers received $30,000 each from a civil suit against KEI. The lead FBI agent turned whistleblower retired in 2003. Sec. Donald Rumsfeld gets to keep his momento of 9/11 taken from the Pentagon. All 16 government employees with 9/11 souvenirs are neither disciplined or prosecuted. The FBI donated the unsold stolen 9/11 supplies found at KEI’s warehouse to the Salvation Army.

Recently the government went to the Supreme Court to stem the rights of whistleblowers. Apparently President Bush’s strategy is not to stem the illegal or unethical behavior, but to prevent it from seeing the light of day. It certainly calls to question his stated "zero tolerance" for people stealing things after a disaster.

P.S. The AP at the beginning of the post represents the author's initials

No comments: