Embattled Intelligence Whistleblower Ombudsman Defends Himself
Months after he was abruptly escorted from his office and placed on leave pending a disciplinary review, intelligence community whistleblower ombudsman Dan Meyer is speaking out.
In a statement released to Government Executive on Tuesday, Meyer rebutted in general terms the still-confidential accusations of issues related to workplace conduct and handling of classified material cited against him by acting intelligence community inspector general Wayne Stone and counsel Jeannette McMillian.
Meyer, who for the past four years has served as executive director of Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection, has come under fire amidst a move to reduce his role in educating employees at the 17 intelligence agencies about their rights and obligations in reporting alleged waste, fraud and abuse.
A special executive review board composed of an unusual grouping of IGs from other agencies has been hearing from witnesses concerning management’s decision not to certify Meyer after his probationary period as program manager. That decision could result in his firing. Meyer has many years of experience working with whistleblowers in Defense Department agencies.
“Earlier this year, I blew the whistle myself: first to my agency head, the inspector general and his legal counsel; and then to the Congress, and then to another inspector general of the intelligence community,” Meyer said in a statement cleared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “The wrongdoing I reported was the systemic failure of the inspectors general of the intelligence community to execute [Presidential Policy Directive-19], the directive establishing the ground rules for IC whistleblowing and source protection.
“Other patriotic IC whistleblowers preceded me in disclosing this wrongdoing; my observations centered on three cases,” Meyer said. Two involved alleged reprisal by two separate inspectors general and one involved alleged suppression of a disclosure to congressional intelligence committees.
ODNI did not provide a response to Meyer’s statement by publication time.
Following his disclosures, Meyer said, he was delivered a negative performance evaluation and scheduled to meet with a review board about his status. “That board was dissolved by the ODNI in response to my motion for a board comprised of inspectors general in order to ensure IG independence as is required by statute,” Meyer said.
The second board, Meyer continued, “will decide whether to recommend my termination as an intelligence officer.”
The accusations against him, Meyer said, were based on two “alleged security infractions. I was also accused of belittling my deputy; and carrying on a ‘secret dialogue’ with the Congress. I provided evidence from myself and others rebutting these accusations. I did admit to slamming a door after our legal counsel started talking smack about our former inspector general.”
Meyer said he has “great confidence” in the ODNI chief management officer, his subordinate staff, and the process he has gone through. “Having ODNI management officials decide whether to terminate me does offend IG statutory independence, but that issue has now been addressed with the dissolution of the first board and a convening of the second, IG-constituted board,” he said. “If the board decides to terminate me, I will appeal. But I look forward to being vindicated and returned to my duties shortly.”
Meyer’s case has drawn the attention of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a whistleblower backer, who has challenged the intelligence community IG’s apparent efforts to curb Meyer’s support program. (Grassley’s staff on Tuesday confirmed that the IC’s watchdog is more than a month late in responding to the senator’s request for documents about the Meyer case.)
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., raised general concerns about the intelligence community IG’s whistleblower protection program on Wednesday at the confirmation hearing for Michael Atkinson to be the community’s new IG. Saying the IG’s office had too many open cases, Warner asked Atkinson how he planned to “right the ship.” The nominee stressed the importance of organization support, outreach and training in whistleblower protections. He pledged a “commitment to integrity,” which he characterized as making the whistleblower protection program “effective, objective and impartial.”
The Meyer disciplinary panel, which met on Jan. 12 and will reconvene later this month, includes, according to sources and witnesses who were granted anonymity, IGs from the Treasury and Energy departments as well as from the National Reconnaissance Organization, the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Meyer’s backers include whistleblower John Crane, who believes he lost his job at the Defense inspector general’s office as a result of a clash over his employer’s handling of whistleblowers in prominent national security controversies. Crane has filed complaints with the Office of Special Counsel charging Defense IG officials with retaliation against whistleblowers, destroying permanent records and altering audits under political pressure.
In an affidavit to Meyer’s disciplinary hearing provided to Government Executive, Crane accused the Pentagon IG’s office of withholding exculpatory evidence from Crane’s case relevant to Meyer’s. “Repeated inspectors general found Dan to be a positive agent of change, and a person agency heads turn to when they need to create unique, tailored programs promoting transparency and good government,” Crane wrote.
One critic of Meyer is John Reidy, a CIA contractor who has long complained that his secretive 2007 whistleblower case involving retaliation for reporting fraud and intelligence failure has sat unresolved for seven years.
On Tuesday, Reidy sent Government Executive a copy of his Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to Meyer’s disciplinary case, and his separate request to the intelligence community IG that the entire proceedings of Meyer’s case be added to his file.
“I have repeatedly asked both the [Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency] and the IC IG to investigate Dan Meyer's behavior in my case,” Reidy wrote in a lengthy correspondence with lawmakers, intel agencies and reporters. “The issue goes beyond my case and touches every case that Dan Meyer has been involved in since his leaving the Department of Defense and joining the DNI staff. Whomever hired Dan Meyer, his supervisors and Dan Meyer himself should have recognized that his previous whistleblowing activities would create an apparent conflict of interest in every case he worked.”