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General News    H2'ed 5/11/11

Obama's Terror War Misses Domestic Targets

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Message Linn Washington
In the wake of the Obama Administration's bally-hooed elimination of Osama bin Laden thousands of government workers across the United States wonder when their president will provide them the "comfort of closure' through his attacking a terrorism they confront daily.

This terrorism ravishing government employees working in entities from mega-federal agencies to small municipalities fits the classic dictionary definition of terrorism: using force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate.

This terrorism is a tyranny predating the birth of al Qaeda -- institutional racism and its related deprivations like vicious retaliation against anyone objecting to unlawful institutional inequities.

Interestingly, a raging battlefield in the institutional racism wars is the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Civil Rights where numerous organizations blast that Office's director for his failures to enforce civil rights.

Additionally, that Office's director, Rafael DeLeon, allegedly engages in improper behavior inclusive of sexist and racist remarks according to critics including the National Whistleblowers Center and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that assert DeLeon himself is the subject of numerous discrimination complaints.

The Washington Post's influential Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson published an article in late April stating that "if" the EPA's Civil Rights Office "were a chunk of ground, it would be declared a disaster area."

Davidson's column referenced a scathing report on the EPA's Civil Rights Office released in March 2011 by the Deloitte Consulting firm.

That report criticized the Office's "record of poor performance" raking it for loosing "sight of its mission and priorities" by focusing on "minor responsibilities" instead of "critical discrimination cases affecting employees and disadvantaged communities."

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, in a press release, stated, "Conditions of fairness inside EPA, especially for whistleblowers, have gotten worse, not better during the past two years"How can EPA speak with any credibility on topics such as environmental justice when it cannot address gross injustice inside its own hallways?"

This row inside the EPA is embarrassing to the Obama Administration because it raises disturbing questions about that administration's real commitment to workplaces free of discrimination and protecting whistle-blowers who expose misconduct.

The Obama Administration receives bad marks for protecting whistle-blowers with some critics contending this administration assails whistle-blowers with a vengeance exceeding that of the previous Bush Administration.

EPA Director Lisa Jackson, the first African-American to head that agency, has commended Rafael DeLeon, the man she reappointed to head the EPA's Civil Rights Office last year. Some observers contend some of the complaints against DeLeon are weak.

DeLeon had fired Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, a whistle-blower subjected to intense race-based harassment who successfully sued the EPA for racism and retaliation.

Coleman-Adebayo's ordeal triggered congressional passage of America's first civil rights legislation of the 21st Century, a measure stiffing whistleblower protections known as NO FEAR.

Ironically, the official at the EPA charged with enforcing that NO FEAR law within the agency is DeLeon.

DeLeon "was the very fox who caused the dysfunction as a previous Director of the EPA OCR henhouse," charged Dwight Welch, former EPA Scientist's Union President, in a statement. "To reappoint this management bully and praise his support for implementing NO FEAR sends a chilling message to EPA employees."

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Linn Washington is a co-founder of This Can't Be Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and problems in the news media. He teaches multi-media urban journalism at Temple (more...)

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