WASHINGTON, D.C.-John Gage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), today issued the following statement in response to Senate approval of the Defense Authorization conference report:
"Today, the Senate, like lemmings, followed the House's lead, legislating away the rights of over 700,000 federal employees working for the Department of Defense.
"Rumsfeld justifies his new fiefdom by using the words "national security" but this bill has nothing to do with improving security. All it does is strip federal workers of the right to defend themselves in the workplace.
"Rumsfeld's plan effectively discards critical civil service laws designed to put an end to a federal spoils system where patronage is rewarded and merit principles are a thing of the past.
"This bill gives Rumsfeld the unilateral authority to write his own rules in which supervisors can bestow favors on their cronies and punish whistle-blowers or any other conscientious employee who refuses to toe the political line.
"The Bush Administration's war on terrorism should not include the loss of the same individual freedoms that we are fighting to preserve. If it does, our nation may be the victor, but its citizens will surely be the losers."