March 02, 2006
Enid Doggett
Kurt Gallagher
(202) 639-6419

Council of Prison Locals Secures Transfer for Bureau of Prisons Whistleblower

WASHINGTON—The AFGE Council of Prison Locals today announced that it has secured a transfer for Joe Mansour, a whistleblowing employee of the Bureau of Prisons. Mansour, who works as a correctional officer for BoP, has received death threats as a result of work he has performed to make all Americans safer: translating phone conversations and letters between Arabic-speaking inmates and contacts outside of prison. Mansour has been seeking a transfer to a different BoP facility for more than two years, even offering to take a salary cut or pay his own relocation expenses, but his repeated requests have been denied until now.

“After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, AFGE finally was able to resolve a dispute that put at risk the life of a true American patriot,” said Bryan Lowry, president of the Council of Prison Locals, which represents federal correctional staff. “It is unfathomable why Bureau of Prisons leaders refused to get Mansour out of a facility where his life was at risk. I cannot understand their disregard for staff and for national security concerns.”

Mansour became the recipient of agency ire after blowing the whistle—in a letter to superiors in April 2003—on unmonitored communications between incarcerated terrorists and their contacts. Until last year BoP did not have any full time staff dedicated to translating Arabic. In the past BoP relied on an informal network of correctional staff who claimed Arabic language proficiency but were never tested.

Staff of both the House and Senate Judiciary committees have been in contact with Mansour and are considering the most appropriate course of action for investigating the issues of whistleblower retaliation and national security concerns. The Office of Special Counsel also is looking into the case. Mansour has worked closely with the Project on Government Oversight throughout his ordeal. As a result of the transfer, Mansour will be downgraded, at a cost of nearly $10,000 per year, from a GS-9 to a GS-7.

“Joe Mansour put his life at risk and made enormous financial sacrifices for his country. I hope that in the end the system that until now has failed him will set circumstances right,” said Lowry.

AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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