A puff piece appeared in the Washington Post on Christmas Day, by Federal Government reporter Lisa Rein:
Carolyn Lerner had the Air Force’s top four-star general boxed in.
Gen. Norton Schwartz was reeling from revelations that the Dover Air Force Base mortuary had lost and sawed off body parts and mishandled other remains of America’s war dead. In the glare of television cameras, the Air Force chief of staff was forced to issue mea culpas for the scandal in November.
Lerner, the newly installed federal lawyer whose tiny office uncovered the gruesome findings, was ready for a fight.
Lerner accused the Air Force of deflecting blame — and a mortuary official of lying and obstructing the probe by firing one of the workers who blew the whistle. When Schwartz declared that Lerner’s Office of Special Counsel had prevented the military from notifying the families of the dead service members for more than a year, she dressed him down to the news media.
The claim was “patently false,” Lerner charged. It was Schwartz who resisted. The Air Force, her deputy said, showed “as much, if not more, reverence for its image as it has for the families of the fallen.”
It’s a typical process story, featuring the mainstay cast of characters** in the whistleblower community, ones who have the ear of the new Special Counsel, Carolyn Lerner. By and large, she’s gained the respect of many whistleblowers. But questions still remain whether she will fulfill the mission of the office as envisioned in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and subsequent legislative revisions, or only insofar as it doesn’t hurt the bottom line of the gatekeepers in the community – the trial attorneys, “good government” groups, and federal unions who Congress–and the media–defer to in these matters.
The trial is still out on this one.
**Let’s just say “regulatory capture” comes in many shapes, sizes, and motivations, even altruistic ones.