The Washington Times - June 26, 2008, 02:24PM


By P. Jeffrey Black

This week in USA Today, it was reported that the high turnover rate and low morale of TSA screeners could be compromising security in our airports.  This was reflected in a newly released report by the Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner.

TSA Administrator Kip Hawley was quick to debunk the report by stating that the results of the investigation were flawed, because the Inspector General relied on the interviews of 320 disgruntled TSA employees, who thereby lacked credibility.

Also in the news this week, National Public Radio reported that there have been 32 whistleblowers from the Federal Aviation Administration, that have now come forward and exposed serious safety violations occurring at our nations airports.  Should we believe them and be concerned?  Of course not.  They were all disgruntled employees — all 32 of them.

And in July of 2006, 17 Federal Air Marshals from five separate cities across the country went public on ABC News exposing agency policies that endangered the lives of airline crews and passengers.  Was there any reason to believe a word they said? Not at all.  They were all disgruntled employees — all 17 of them.

I was curious as to exactly what this word “disgruntled” really meant, since government agencies frequently use it to describe employees who publicly expose such things like corruption, cronyism, waste, fraud, and abuse of authority. I assumed the definition would be very derogatory and unfavorable, but I decided to look it up anyway, and here is what I found. 

Disgruntled means:

· dissatisfied, discontented, aggrieved, fed up, displeased, unhappy, disappointed, angry, irate, annoyed, indignant, irritated, irked, put out, peeved, miffed, bummed, aggravated, hacked off, riled, peed off, PO’d, hot under the collar, in a huff, cheesed off, teed off, and ticked off.

When I first read this list, I had to chuckle.  This sounds more like a description of how passengers feel while going through a TSA security checkpoint, but they are definitely not descriptions of the miscreants government agencies are trying to make whistleblowers out to be. 

Am I missing something here? 

I thought the word disgruntled was intended to invoke a sense of villainous evil in my mind, at least that is the objective of government talking-heads. But after reading the true definition, quite the contrary happened.  Is it really so bad to be called disgruntled?  Maybe not.

Ironically, what sticks out in this list of words defining disgruntled, is not what is on the list — but what isn’t on the list.  Missing in the dictionary definition are words like traitor, snitch, immoral, liar, troublemaker, dishonest, nuisance, cheater, unethical, and dishonorable.  These are all the labels government agencies surreptitiously try to pin on whistleblowers to discredit their public disclosures.
And this begs the question:  Do TSA managers and spokespersons ever bother reading the dictionary?

When a whistleblower risks their career to expose corruption, is anyone really surprised if that employee is fed up, riled, miffed, and cheesed off at management?

When a whistleblower is retaliated against and receives a poor annual review, is it any wonder the employee feels aggrieved, bummed, peed off, and hot under the collar?

When a whistleblower is wrongfully terminated and loses his income to support his family, can you blame the employee for feeling irked, indignant, PO’d, and really ticked off?

Being disgruntled as a whistleblower sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Publicly claiming that whistleblowers lack credibility because they are disgruntled, is like repeatedly kicking a dog, then claiming the dog is rabid and should be shot … because it eventually bit you.

Maybe its time Kip Hawley and the TSA began using a different and more appropriate word to describe both screener and Federal Air Marshal whistleblowers.

How about a word that describes a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion, and who regards himself or herself as a defender of individual rights and against unlawful corruption by the federal government.

That too sounds pretty reasonable to me. 

And it just so happens to be the exact definition of –– a Patriot.

So I say this to you Mr. Hawley, the next time both screener and air marshal whistleblowers risk their federal careers by coming forward to expose corruption or dangerous aviation security violations, call your employess what they really are — disgruntled Patriots.