The McClatchy press has run a series of articles critical of the investigative lab at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. Some of the reports detailed botched DNA and weapons testing, and the falsification of documents. Evidence was lost, sometimes for months, delaying investigative outcomes.
The senior service realized it had a problem on its hands. So it did when any bureaucratic organization will do:
Stung by critical stories about their crime laboratory, officials at Army Criminal Investigation Command recently questioned lab employees for hours and scrutinized personal phone records looking for contacts with reporters.
The inquiry was launched after a McClatchy reporter asked questions late last year about the lab losing evidence. A command spokesman characterized the investigation as looking into violations of privacy law, but the investigation report, which McClatchy obtained, shows that the command was interested primarily in whether employees had provided information that resulted in a story about lab problems.
“This investigation was aimed at rooting out anyone even remotely critical of the lab,” charged Peter Lown, an attorney for one of the employees questioned in the probe. “The lab’s management doesn’t want any more critical stories.”
And it isn’t just the lab, according to McClatchy, which posits that the clampdown on whistle-blowing is part of a larger effort:
The Army’s investigation of media contacts comes as the Obama administration takes a hard-line stance on leaks. President Barack Obama’s Justice and Defense departments have criminally prosecuted more former and current government officials on charges of disclosing information than previous administrations have.
Unlike in the Army investigation, however, all the prosecuted officials were accused of divulging classified intelligence, which can be a felony.
“This is an unprecedented crackdown by the Obama administration,” Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer with the Government Accountability Project, a public interest organization that protects whistleblowers. “It sends a very chilling message to any kind of whistleblower who is considering dissenting or speaking out.”
Transparency, and that. “Hope and change,” etc.