Friend of Patterico and Federal Whistleblower Robert MacLean Hopefully Headed for Victory in Supreme Court
The New York Times recently reported:
A majority of the justices seemed ready to side with a fired air marshal on Tuesday in a Supreme Court argument over whether he was covered by a federal law protecting whistle-blowers.
In 2003, the air marshal, Robert J. MacLean, received a secret briefing about a terrorist threat affecting long-distance flights. Two days later, he was told by text message from the Transportation Security Administration that to save money, the agency was canceling assignments requiring an overnight stay.
He complained to his superiors, saying the move would imperil public safety. When they failed to act, he contacted a reporter for MSNBC. The resulting news coverage promptly led to a reversal of the travel policy.
When the government later identified Mr. MacLean as the source of the report, it fired him for disclosing sensitive information without authorization. Mr. MacLean challenged his dismissal under the Whistleblower Protection Act, which insulates federal workers from retaliation if they disclose “a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”
Mr. MacLean is a friend of the blog, and provided me exclusive insights seven years ago, in posts like this one and this one. For non-clickers, here is part of what Mr. MacLean told me in one of those old posts:
After 9/11, immediately putting thousands of air marshals on flights was the right decision. But now, the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) misuse of the air marshal program as a visual deterrent is one of the worst threats to aviation security right now.
With the current checkpoint bypass and pre-boarding policies that TSA and the airline companies insist on, an air marshal team is going to get ambushed and their weapons will be used to take another plane down. Air marshals right now are sitting ducks with the current strategy.
But then we got Barack Obama — and he has been great to whistleblowers. Hope and change. So we now have nothing to worry about, folks.
Nothing to worry about.
Good luck to Mr. MacLean. He and people like him represent what is best about this country: people willing to stand up for what’s right, in the face of powerful vested interests. I have nothing but respect for Mr. MacLean and people like him.
UPDATE: Mr. MacLean needs work. If any Patterico readers know of a position for an honest, upstanding guy, email me.