I've said and written some unflattering things about federal workers over the years. Back when I was a spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste, a fiscal watchdog group, and later, when I wrote the weekly "Waste and Abuse" column for Insight Magazine, I regularly penned pieces that cast federal workers in an unflattering light. I didn't always have to ferret these stories out; they mostly just fall in your lap, so pervasive is waste and mismanagement at the federal level.
Did all that work make me complicit in murder? That's the message coming out of Washington this morning.
Did all my "government-bashing" -- all my disrespecting of the dedicated men and women, "public servants" all, who labor tirelessly on my behalf in thankless government jobs -- help lay the predicate for the murder of census worker William Sparkman, who was found dead on Sept. 12 in the Daniel Boone National Forest? It just might have, says Bill Schauman, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2782, in today's Washington Post.
"Perhaps, if more of our leaders had talked over the years about the dedication of the federal workforce, and shown us more of the appreciation and trust we deserve, this terrible event might not have happened," Schauman told the Post. Other union leaders quoted in the story were more cautious about making such connections. But John Berry, who runs the Office of Personnel Management, ratchets up the rhetoric again by suggesting that Sparkman may have been the victim of "domestic terrorism." "We cannot tolerate essentially domestic terrorism, if that is what this is," he said. "But until we understand the law enforcement investigation, we don’t know."
The Post further inflames the situation by trotting out some context-free statistics about crimes against federal workers (or in which federal worker are involved), leaving the inference that there's some political component to the crimes, though this is not supported in any way.
"It is a federal crime to attack or kill a federal worker during or because of their job and government employees regularly face threats due to the nature of their work. Officials insist they have no information suggesting Sparkman was targeted because of his federal employment, but the slaying has raised concerns about the safety of federal employees.
The Justice Department had filed 277 such cases against 299 defendants as of August, according to spokesman Ian McCaleb. It prosecuted 303 cases against 330 defendants in FY '08, 326 cases against 348 defendants in FY '07 and 313 cases filed against 329 defendants in FY '06. McCaleb could not provide details about specific employees or agencies targeted or the number of successful prosecutions.
Union leaders have suggested that statements by lawmakers and commentators about the federal workforce may also be to blame."
So watch what you say about federal workers, everyone. Your critiques just might be egging on "domestic terrorism" and instigating cold-blooded murder.