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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/27/09

Whistleblower Being Sent to Prison

By Don Soeken  Posted by James Murtagh (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   6 comments

A whistleblower is going to prison this week because of retaliation from the Bush Administration's Justice Department and the Department of Energy. All citizens are asked to support Martin Salazar.

 All Op Ed News Readers are asked to write and support the petition to free honest citizen Martin Salazar.

Martin Salazar, a Department of Energy, chief test nuclear engineer for nearly twenty years, was singled-out for prosecution because he had a history of exercising appeal rights including successful MPSB complaints against his agency, and because he elected to use the grievance policy to which he was entitled under the merit systems principles.  After challenging sexual and racial harassment, he was charged with similar offenses. When he did not "back off" the agency took extraordinary steps to use a bad faith settlement process to initiate a successful criminal prosecution. 

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This case has attracted unique attention and created a severe chilling effect among other federal workers and good government/taxpayer groups providing support for whistleblowers. The government has created the appearance of an extraordinary effort to make an example out of an internal whistleblower, and criminalize an administrative matter by one who frustrated the conventional civil service attacks. Immediate incarceration would maximize that goal.  In fact, he will be incarcerated on January 29, 2009.


Martin Salazar was a Chief Engineer for 18 of these years with the Department of Energy (DOE), which included operation of several Nuclear Reactors and Chemical Separation facilities.  He has knowledge of how nuclear weapons can be produced.  


Mr. Salazar also was a vocal critic of the Bush Administration's finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  In fact, he was scheduled to go to Iraq to search for the weapons but his participation was cancelled after he questioned the possibility of ever finding the weapons or if they existed.  He still carries the paper work with orders to go to Fort Bliss in Texas for combat training.   The training was required before going to Iraq. 


At every step of the way, Appellant Salazar has faced harsher-than-usual treatment, whether it was referral of his case to the Inspector General in violation of a settlement agreement signed by the Appellant and the agency or the increase at sentencing from 6 months probation to 366 days in prison after he filed a Bar complaint against the Department of Energy’s counsel who broke the settlement.   


If employees who successfully exercise the grievance or appeals processes run the risk of retaliatory criminal prosecution, merit systems principles cannot possibly be effective. Unlike civil litigation, in which aggrieved employees have the opportunity to present their case first and then the agency must rebut and justify their actions by clear and convincing evidence, the agency holds all the cards when the retaliation comes in the form of a criminal trial. The Government presents a laundry list of alleged crimes, while the agency’s unlawful conduct does not enter the courtroom.  Agencies skirting merit systems principles by throwing so-called troublemakers in prison render the principles next to worthless.

The final action by the agency was an attack against Mr. Salazar because he came to the rescue of one Shirley Smith who was eventually convicted for filing an EEO complaint herself. The Government has used these new tactics to suppress those who would dare to challenge management and to control those same persons through intimidation. In fact, the EEOC found such to be the case in a published report following the Shirley Smith case. The EEOC found that the Chief Counsel acted out of retaliation as is the case here with Mr. Salazar as both have crossed swords on numerous occasions.


The trial judge in his criminal case erred in refusing to give the jury an instruction on the affirmative defense of entrapment.  Appellant Salazar had been assured by Jean Stump, a federal government employee, that signing the application for immediate retirement, even when he was not sure if the birth date listed was accurate, was legal and permitted.  Because the agency was required to certify the retirement forms prior to the Appellant’s signature, Salazar concluded that the matter of his unknown birth date had been resolved; he signed the application.   Mr. Salazar's exact birth date was unknown because after he was born in Arizona his mother lived between Mexico and Nogales, Arizona.  There is no dispute that he was born in the United States but the exact date is unknown, and is only testified by his natural sister more than 15 years older and who was present at his birth.

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James J. Murtagh, Jr. is a doctor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, and the Medical Director of several sleep laboratories in Southern Ohio. Dr. Murtagh extensively writes on medical ethics. Dr. Murtagh is the founder of a new (more...)
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