Maloney Seeks Compensation for Wrongfully Fired WMD Intelligence Officer

Jun 9, 2008 Issues: Oversight and Government Reform

WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) introduced legislation today to compensate Richard Barlow, a former high-level CIA and Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) counter-proliferation intelligence officer.  In the late 1980’s Barlow was essentially forced out of his job after informing his superiors that Congress was being lied to about Pakistan's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.  Within days after expressing his concerns inside OSD, Mr. Barlow was issued a notice of termination and his security clearances suspended based on allegations that he “intended” to blow the whistle to Congress.  Despite the fact that Barlow was cleared of any wrongdoing after several investigations, he remains unable to collect a government pension.  Rep. Maloney's private relief bill for Barlow (H.R. 6232) would provide him with financial compensation for the some of the losses he has incurred. 

“Richard Barlow's career was ruined because he had the courage to tell the truth,” said Rep. Maloney.  “Congress has a responsibility to protect government employees who work responsibly to ensure that Congress is told the truth.  As history has shown, Congress cannot effectively execute its Constitutional duties if it does not receive accurate intelligence assessments.  If Congress turns its back on Mr. Barlow, it will set a further chilling example and might prevent Congress from knowing critically important information and restrict our oversight responsibilities.”  

While Barlow was working as an intelligence officer during the late 1980s, the U.S. government was poised to sell new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan following the conclusion of the first Afghan war. Barlow wrote an intelligence assessment for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney that showed Pakistan's ability and intent to use F-16s to deliver nuclear bombs, and concluded that the F-16 sale would violate existing law prohibiting the sale of military equipment to any country that possessed nuclear weapons or violated our nuclear export laws.  His assessment was rewritten without his knowledge so that it endorsed the sale of the F-16s.  Barlow learned that OSD officials had lied to Congress in a hearing about the sale and that others had misled Congress regarding Pakistan’s nuclear activities. When he raised objections and submitted corrected truthful testimony inside the Executive Branch, Barlow was issued a notice of termination, stripped of his high-level security clearance, and subjected to an intense and invasive nine month-long retaliatory security investigation into nearly every aspect of his life.  All the allegations were found to have been fabricated by his superiors, yet they refused to place him back in his job, or any similar job in OSD.  Barlow resigned under duress in 1992. 

“The Barlow case is breathtaking in its significance. Rep. Maloney is not only righting a wrong against an individual, she is righting a wrong against the Congress itself,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight.

Five Senate and five House committees have intervened in support of Barlow’s case on a bipartisan basis since 1992, and investigations by the CIA, State Department Inspectors General, and the Government Accountability Office have corroborated Barlow’s findings or found that personnel actions were taken against him in reprisal.  Yet, to date, nothing has been done to rectify the wrongful retaliation he endured.   

Currently, no process exists to compensate intelligence officials such as Barlow.  Rep. Maloney's private relief bill would authorize Congress to provide Barlow with $1.9 million in compensation for the financial losses he has suffered since being forced out of the DoD.  House rules stipulate that private relief bills can have no co-sponsors. 

“I commend the Project of Government Oversight (POGO) for bringing Mr. Barlow's case to my attention, and for their continued commitment to strong government oversight,” Rep. Maloney said.  “I look forward to working with POGO to ensure Mr. Barlow finally gets the relief and compensation he deserves.”

For more information on Richard Barlow, please visit: http://www.pogo.org/p/government/rbarlow.html.

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