Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Regarding the FBI and Dr. Frederic Whitehurst

Feb 26, 1998


Regarding the FBI and Dr. Frederic Whitehurst


Today, accountability in government has won a major victory. And a true national hero has been vindicated.

I have learned that Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, the FBI crime lab whistleblower, was taken off administrative leave, given back his badge and gun, and restored to full active duty status at the FBI. Under the terms of the settlement, Dr. Whitehurst was given the option to remain at work, or to voluntarily resign in exchange for significant compensation.

Dr. Whitehurst brought forth information of immense public service. His information revealed systemic management failures within the FBI lab, and led to the on-going implementation of reforms to correct those problems. His work has helped restore the public's confidence in federal law enforcement.

Despite bringing this information forward, Dr. Whitehurst has been unfairly attacked by the FBI and the Justice Department's Inspector General. It has taken several years for the FBI to realize that the messenger is not the problem. In that respect, I commend the FBI for taking this action and, in effect, recognizing the enormous contribution Dr. Whitehurst has made in the public interest.

All eyes of lab employees were trained on how the FBI would treat Dr. Whitehurst. If he were snuffed out, no lab employee would come forward in the future with information of improper actions within the lab. If he were treated fairly, on the other hand, that would send a signal that product is more important than image. That's the message of today's action.

Make no mistake about it, however: The FBI would have preferred to get rid of the messenger, but for those who stood up to them and forced this favorable settlement. In the end, the public will not stand for retaliation against an honest public servant doing his job in the public's interest.

The FBI must keep its focus on what it does best: criminal investigations. It can and must make vast improvements in areas criticized by the IG report. At the same time, they must resist temptations to empire build and duplicate the functions of other agencies' expertise.

Moreover, future Fred Whitehursts within the FBI are still not protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act, 10 years after the law was passed. For years, the Department of Justice refused to implement the law protecting FBI whistleblowers. On April 14, 1997, through prodding from me, President Clinton ordered the Attorney General to implement these laws. They have still not been implemented. This is dead wrong and, until they are implemented, this administration cannot say it is dedicated to protecting the indispensable government function of whistleblowing.

In my view, the President of the United States should have a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden honoring Dr. Whitehurst for his tremendous courage and public service. The message that would send to the public and to all potential whistleblowers cannot be underestimated. I personally thank Fred Whitehurst for what he has done for the American people.