From the time the False Claims Act was passed in 1863 to protect whistleblowers, there have been a number of other Acts passed to protect someone who reports abuse, corruption or illegal actions by an employer, government agency or private organization. However, it is still common practice for a whistleblower to be retaliated against by those he/she blew the whistle on.
Case in point is Special Agent Vince Cefalu, a twenty-four year stellar veteran employee of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Over time, however Cefalu began to see corruption and wrong doings taking place within the ATF. In 2005 he began inquiring into possible corruption and illegal wiretapping by the ATF. Although the ATF has a history of retaliating against whistleblowers, Cefalu set up a website in 2009 called CleanUpATF.org It was an attempt to give other agents an outlet to share concerns about the bureau in an effort to clean it up. The front page of the site states:
“Managers, Counsel, Internal Affairs and staff of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (BATFE or “ATF”) have repeatedly given false testimony, concealed substantial waste, fraud and abuse, abused their lawful authority, and waged systematic campaigns of reprisal against their own employees that dare to speak out. This website is intended by members of the ATF community to promote restoration of integrity, accountability and responsibility to ATF’s leadership, and regain the trust of the American taxpayer.”
In December of 2010, Cefalu popped the cork on Operation Fast and Furious, the botched ATF gun walking program that lead to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. In June 2011, Cefalu was notified that he was being terminated from the bureau. Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, warned ATF officials against retaliating against whistleblowers including Cefalu. Instead of termination, Cefalu was placed on administrative leave.
Last Tuesday, Cefalu was asked to meet Joseph Riehl at a Denny’s Restaurant in the Lake Tahoe area. Riehl is the Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division for the ATF. When the meeting took place, Riehl, accompanied a second ATF manager, served Cefalu with termination papers ending his illustrious career with the ATF and serving the public.
Unbeknownst to Riehl, the meeting was caught on video by a confidential source.
This ladies and gentlemen is how our government deals with people that try to do the right thing by cleaning up corruption and illegal acts. Instead of acknowledging their diligence and loyalty for doing what is right and legal, they retaliate and stoop so low as to terminate the loyal employee in a public restaurant parking lot.
And we trust them to do what’s right by us? Think again!