In a letter obtained by NPR, DoJ whistleblowers urge federal watchdogs and members of Congress to investigate what they say are illegal government directives that forced diversity and inclusion programs planned by the DoJ earlier this year to be canceled for being “divisive propaganda.”
For example, one of the programs would have featured former US Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu and Regina Lombardo, the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, discussing the "gender leadership gap" at the DoJ. Another program would have looked into implicit bias in law enforcement.
"The Diversity Directives signal to all that minorities are not welcome, their positions are not secure, and that discussing systemic injustice is inappropriate in the workplace or otherwise," David Seide, a lawyer at the Government Accountability Project who is representing the DoJ whistleblowers, told NPR. "The directives were implemented to silence conversations surrounding issues of race, nationality and gender during a time when such conversations have been most needed."
The latest move comes after US President Donald Trump’s September executive order which required federal agencies to submit diversity training programs to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before they could begin. According to the White House, the executive order was supposed to “promote economy and efficiency in federal contracting, to promote unity in the federal workforce and to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating."
Another DoJ employee, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the OPM, which must now approve diversity programs, is currently dedicating most of its time to protecting the federal workforce in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The whistleblowers are asking the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden to withdraw Trump’s executive order and for congressional agencies to investigate the issue.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance filed a class-action lawsuit in October against Trump’s executive order, saying it is “chillingly punitive” censorship that violates free speech, equal protection and due process rights, NPR reported.