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Project on Government Oversight




Gonzales Record on Government Secrecy

November 16, 2004 


President Bush's appointment for the Justice Department, Alberto Gonzales, played a leading role in attempting to chill whistleblowers who contact Congress with information about corporate fraud and abuse.

Within hours of signing the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley legislation to fight corporate fraud, President Bush attempted to severely narrow which whistleblowers would be covered by the Act. White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales defended the narrowed interpretation when Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy protested the attempt to undermine whistleblower protections they had authored.

Ultimately, the White House backed down on its narrowed interpretation of the Act.

To view the correspondence, follow this link.

Protection of whistleblowers and the free flow of information is of paramount important to Congress in overseeing the Justice Department's progress in fighting the War on Terrorism. The FBI has been a focal point for some of the highest profile whistleblowers such as Coleen Rowley, named Time Magazine co-person of the year in 2002. The 9/11 Commission report noted that a Cold War mentality that restricted the free flow of information was hampering the government's ability to address terrorist threats.

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, 50% more government workers annually are seeking protection against retaliation for blowing the whistle on "allegations of substantial and specific dangers to public health and safety and national security concerns" (see Government Accountability Office report "U.S. Office of Special Counsel: Strategy for Reducing Persistent Backlog of Cases Should be Provided to Congress," March 2004.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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