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Rumsfeld Subpoenaed By Bi-Partisan House Govt Reform Committee

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In an unusual bi-partisan act, the House Government Reform Committee issued a subpoena on Friday to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld concerning the case of Army Specialist Samuel Provance. In 2004, Spc. Provance blew the whistle on detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, including the use of prisoner's children to "break" them. An alert from the Committee follows below.

"Congress has inherent authority pursuant to its oversight responsibilities to receive information of waste, fraud, and abuse. We applaud Congressmen Davis and Waxman for taking the step towards preserving this institutional authority," said Sibel Edmonds, President of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

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In February 2006, Samuel Provance testified before the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, outlining his many attempts to alert his chain of command and Defense Department investigators about abuses at Abu Ghraib. His testimony can be viewed here

According to his testimony: "They [the investigations] seemed to me to be designed to shut people up, not to reveal the truth about what happened and punish all the wrongdoers. In particular, they seemed focused on trying to shut off the responsibility of those who were higher up the chain of command."

Three days after his May 18, 2004 interview on ABC News about the abuses at Abu Ghraib, Provance "was administratively flagged" and had his "top-secret clearance suspended." Under questioning from House National Security Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Shays, Provance said that as of February 2006: "I still haven't received my clearance back or any official word as far as where it stands and so the only thing I've been doing since being demoted is picking up trash and guard duty and things of that nature."

At a Committee hearing on Friday, Ranking House Government Reform Committee Minority Member Henry Waxman delivered a statement concerning the subpoena to Rumsfeld. Representative Waxman stated: "rather than investigate Sergeant Provance's claims, the military ignored him, told him he could be prosecuted for not coming forward sooner, and then demoted him and pulled his security clearance."

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Rep. Waxman also described the failure of the Pentagon to respond to the Committee's request for documents: "To this day, and after more than three months, there has been no substantive response from the Department, and no documents have been provided. To their credit, the majority staff followed-up nearly a dozen times with telephone calls and e-mails, without success."

Among the many incidents, Provance described in his testimony was his interview with General Fay in March 2004, and his resistance to listening to Provance's allegations concerning military intelligence abuses. After telling General Fay about these abuses, Provance testified: "He then said he would recommend administrative action against me for not reporting what I knew sooner than the investigation. He said if I had reported what I knew sooner, I could have actually prevented the scandal."

At the February 2006 hearing, Chairman Christopher Shays commended Spc. Provance: "I just want to say to you, Specialist Provance, it takes a tremendous amount of courage with your rank to tell a general what they may not want to hear and people like you will help move our country in the right direction and so this full committee thanks you for what you've done."

In 2005, POGO issued "Homeland and National Security Whistleblowers: the Unfinished Agenda," examining the failure of the federal government the protect whistleblowers from retaliation (see here In February 2006, POGO's Beth Daley testified before the House National Security Subcommittee urging Congress to strengthen protections (see http://reform.house.gov/uploadedfiles/daley%20testimony.pdf)

Also testifying at the hearing was the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (www.nswbc.org), "an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nation's security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation's borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct." In recent months, the Coalition has worked with the Congress toward legislation to protect whistleblowers in the FBI, CIA and other national security agencies from retaliation.
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.
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www.nswbc.org
Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI language specialist, was terminated from the bureau after reporting security breaches, cover-up, and blocking of intelligence with national security implications. Since that time, court proceedings in her whistleblower (more...)
 

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