Federal Watchdog: Reprisals Occurred Against Dover Whistleblowers

The US Office of Special Counsel found that three officials at the Air Force-run military mortuary at Dover AFB, Del., “retaliated against” four whistleblowers who warned of alleged wrongdoing in the handling of several fallen service members’ remains. “We expect the Air Force will now take appropriate steps to discipline the wrongdoers and deter future acts of retaliation,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner in Tuesday’s OSC release. Retaliation violates federal law, according to OSC, an independent federal agency that protects federal government whistleblowers. The four mortuary employees alleged that they faced retaliation including job termination, indefinite administrative leave, and five-day suspensions, stated OSC. Responding to OSC’s findings, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said in a release Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and he “believe strongly there is no place for reprisal in the Air Force.” He added, “We take violations of the law seriously and have appointed a two-star general to review the report and take appropriate action.” (See also Air Force Issues Interim Report on Dover Discipline and AFPS report by Jim Garamone.)