(WASHINGTON)—We are incredibly disappointed that the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol appears to have decided to keep David Buckley on as staff director despite a recently reported and substantiated complaint that Buckley retaliated against a whistleblower while leading the CIA’s inspector general office.
The committee should remove Buckley as staff director and pledge to protect any whistleblowers who come forward during the committee’s investigation.
If the committee wants to proceed with integrity and get to the bottom of the attack on the Capitol, it must hire individuals committed to protecting whistleblowers. The select committee is tasked with a sensitive investigation that relies on hearing from government witnesses and whistleblowers. Hiring an individual who has retaliated against a whistleblower in the past—and placing him in such a prominent position—sends a chilling message to potential witnesses.
When first faced with questions about Buckley’s past retaliation against whistleblower Andrew Bakaj, the committee defended Buckley’s hire and tried to cast doubt on whether Bakaj was truly a whistleblower. This is particularly troubling, since the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, who was asked to conduct an impartial review of Bakaj’s claims, found that Buckley did wrongfully retaliate against Bakaj.
The select committee should consider whistleblower retaliation a disqualifying factor for a staff director. It is of the utmost importance that this committee operate effectively and with integrity, and it cannot do so with Buckley in such an important role.
“I was flabbergasted when I saw that the new staff director for the select committee has retaliated against a whistleblower,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight. “I once thought highly of David Buckley’s skill and leadership as inspector general, but revelations about his treatment of whistleblowers are too troubling to ignore. Whistleblowers are key resources when it comes to finding and addressing abuse of power, and I’d expect congressional oversight leaders to recognize the importance of treating these truth-tellers with respect. I believe the select committee wants to—and can—conduct a fair, in-depth investigation into the January 6 attack, but for that to happen, committee leaders must remove Buckley from this leadership role and pledge to protect any whistleblowers who come forward.”