U.S. Customs and Border Protection made a “demonstrably false” claim to the Post when it denied it was ordered to take “corrective action” after demoting whistleblowers, says Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Grassley (R-Iowa), 89, wrote in a letter to Biden officials Monday that CBP falsely claimed it was never asked to rectify the situation it created by demoting three employees for revealing flaws in criminal DNA collection. from the agency.
Grassley, who has been called “the patron saint of whistleblowers,” said he was informed twice by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that he did, in fact, “pursue corrective action with CBP” after a federal investigation uncovered that the employees suffered retaliation, according to a copy of his letter sent to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.
CBP had told The Post that the OSC did not seek “corrective action” involving the agency, and that the targeted employees have not yet been reinstated to their previous positions.
“In light of CBP’s demonstrably false public statement, when will it issue a public retraction to make clear that OSC did in fact seek corrective action?” Grassley said.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says U.S. Customs and Border Protection made a “demonstrably false” claim to the Post about the whistleblowers.Getty Images
CBP claimed it was never asked to institute “corrective measures” for three employees after a federal investigation found that each had suffered retaliation for highlighting flaws in DNA collection.
Grassley asked CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller (above), “In light of CBP’s demonstrably false public statement, when will you issue a public retraction to make clear that OSC did in fact seek corrective action?”
Grassley also sent a letter to Mayorkas on Aug. 18 asking him to “immediately institute corrective measures” for the whistleblowers, but did not receive a response before the Sept. 1 deadline he set.
“When can I expect a response to my letter of August 18, 2023 regarding your plans to initiate corrective actions regarding retaliatory conduct against these whistleblowers and hold the retaliators accountable?” he asked Mayorkas and Miller in his final letter, setting a second deadline of September 18.
CBP did not respond to a Post request for comment.
Grassley also sent a letter to the head of the federal Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas (above), asking him to “immediately institute corrective measures” for whistleblowers, but did not receive a response before his September 1 deadline. Getty Images
In 2018, CBP closed its Weapons of Mass Destruction Division after three whistleblowers, Fred Wynn, Mike Taylor and Mark Jones, drew attention to the fact that their agency had failed to collect DNA from detainees since 2009.
The failure to collect DNA from more than 5 million people during that time allowed some violent criminals to evade justice, according to special prosecutor Henry Kerner, who called it “an unacceptable abandonment of the agency’s law enforcement mandate.” .
“The agency’s failure to comply with the law has allowed subjects later charged with violent crimes, including homicide and sexual assault, to evade detection even when they were detained multiple times by CBP or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (ICE),” Kerner said to then-President Donald Trump and Congress in letters August 21, 2019.
The failure to collect DNA from more than 5 million people allowed some violent criminals to evade justice, according to the Office of the Special Prosecutor.AFP via Getty Images
The DNA Fingerprinting Act required all federal law enforcement agencies to collect DNA from detainees at the beginning of the Obama administration, but then-Attorney General Eric Holder interpreted the law restrictively to exclude DHS already. the CBP.
“There may be situations in which DNA sample collection is not operationally feasible due to the sudden mass influx of aliens without immigration status,” Holder wrote in a July 22, 2010, letter to then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. , Janet Napolitano.
Grassley has been called “the patron saint of whistleblowers.” Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Holder also gave DHS an indefinite amount of time to “implement the collection of DNA samples from arrestees by its agencies” due to an apparent lack of resources, according to a Nov. 18, 2010, memo.
CBP whistleblowers worked for a pilot program to implement the DNA law between 2016 and 2018, and approached the OSC in mid-2018 to reveal the flaws after their division closed and they suffered reputational damage.
The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board is appealing their case, but that didn’t stop DHS and CBP from retaliating further, according to Grassley.
“The agency’s failure to comply with the law has allowed subjects subsequently charged with violent crimes, including homicide and sexual assault, to evade detection,” the OSC told former President Donald Trump and Congress. AFP via Getty Images
Whistleblowers have been passed over for performance awards and various positions, the special prosecutor found.
Taylor and Jones served for decades in federal law enforcement, but have also since had their badges, firearms and credentials taken away, according to disclosures they made to the DHS Office of Inspector General and the DHS Office of General Counsel on last year.
Taylor also had his retirement coverage and future pension payments taken away.
Jones, who served as acting director of the weapons of mass destruction program, was passed over for the director’s position in a new office doing similar law enforcement work called the Operational Field Testing Division.
Senator demands answers from Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller (above), among others.CBP/Polaris
The three were ultimately placed on “constructive retirement” for their whistleblower disclosures after CBP attempted to make an “example” for them, a source familiar with the investigation previously told The Post.
The OSC found that CBP’s “actions were motivated by the agency’s displeasure with plaintiffs’ actual and perceived involvement in exposing the agency’s decade-long willful failure to implement a law designed to protect security. public,” according to a Dec. 2 report. 2021, letter summarizing their findings and first reported by The Post.
An OSC spokesperson told The Post when contacted for comment on Grassley’s letter on Tuesday: “Due to ongoing litigation, OSC is unable to comment at this time.”