Tags: Security | Whistle-Blowers | Pay | Heavy | Price

Security Whistle-Blowers Pay a Heavy Price

Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM

In this, Wright follows a long honorable and often sacrificial tradition of those in government who have tried to protect America from its enemies.

Most are familiar with the case of FBI agent Gary Aldrich, who in 1996 wrote the book "Unlimited Access” exposing the total breakdown of security at the Clinton White House. The higher-ups made life uncomfortable for him. Ultimately, he retired rather than "go along to get along.”

Much the same can be said for Notra Trulock, a security official at the Department of Energy who played a major role in exposing Bill Clinton's China scandal. FBI agents raided his home without a warrant, searched his computer and, by the way, struck his dog. "Good he didn’t have any children around,” Klayman observes.

But this has run true to form within the bureaucracy for decades.

Take, for example, the case of Otto Otepka. Not exactly a household name. But he went through a living hell when he tried to protect the U.S. from security risks.

Otepka was a top security official in the State Department. During the 1950s, he had run one of the most efficient shops in the federal government. He was widely recognized as fair but firm in investigating those who attempted to enter the State Department in sensitive roles involving foreign policy.

In the 1960s, when the Kennedy/Johnson crowd took over, Otepka’s refusal to clear appointees who were obvious security risks (some with communist connections), suddenly landed him in the doghouse with then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

The result was that Otepka and his closest associates were isolated and made as miserable as possible.

The 1970 book "The Ordeal of Otto Otepka” by William J. Gill describes this story in chilling detail.

Referring to an article that appeared in the (now defunct) New York Herald Tribune:

"No one speaks to the man and he speaks to no one.

"When he enters the elevator, the conversation fades to a painful silence. In the corridors, one or two people nod in polite recognition, but quickly lower their eyes.

"He sits behind his bare desk to face another morning in solitude.” No mail, no department instructions. There is a phone, but it never rings.

"Otepka is a human island, ostracized by all other State Department workers.”

On one occasion, a fellow employee visited Otepka in his office. When this employee returned to his own desk, he was immediately summoned by his supervisor and ordered not to call on Otepka again.

Otepka’s problems increased when he testified about the security risks to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.

It wasn’t long before the Rusk regime at State tried to go after him on trumped-up charges that were ultimately dismissed as not having passed the laugh test.

But the psychological warfare against Otepka’s "top-notch security officers” was every bit as brutal. They ended up relegated to an abandoned annex.

Again from Gill’s book: "To amuse themselves, they arranged a display of cockroaches on the office wall under an improvised sign which read ‘This place is bugged.’”

Ultimately, it all became too much for a secretary who innocently shared their exile. One morning while at her desk, a mouse "climbed out of her wastebasket and ambled off on its daily rounds.”

When the wife of one of the exiles got the word of the situation to Chicago Tribune bureau chief Willard Edwards, he was skeptical, until he had a look for himself and made the front page with it.

That prompted Sen. John J. Williams, R-Del., and Rep. H.R. Gross, R-Iowa, to conduct an inspection. "They wandered through the deserted eight-story structure ... appalled at the rubbish and the filth.”

Williams described the place as "an isolation ward or cooler for employees whose only crime is telling the truth to a Senate committee.”

Ultimately, because the lawmakers raised a high-profile ruckus, Rusk shifted the employees to other work. Their old security jobs no longer existed because Rusk "knew he would run the supreme risk that they would discover many more security risks who had doubtless received clearances in the last five years since he cleaned house.”

When the Kennedy/Johnson era ended and Richard Nixon took over, he managed to solve the politics of the problem without solving the problem. Otepka was nominated to the Subversive Activities Control Board, then on its last legs, but welcoming someone with his expertise. His Senate confirmation came only after the bitter, mean-spirited opposition of left-wing Democrats running interference for their people. Not at all unlike Democrat cover-ups for Clinton years later.

Klayman of Judicial Watch says if that kind of treatment is accorded Robert Wright,, he "will be a rich man,” as a result of legal action.

Otto Otepka, Gary Aldrich and Notra Trulock have done the political bleeding that just may have paved the way for justice in Robert Wright’s case.

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In this, Wright follows a long honorable and often sacrificial tradition of those in government who have tried to protect America from its enemies. Most are familiar with the case of FBI agent Gary Aldrich, who in 1996 wrote the book Unlimited Access" exposing the total...
Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM
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