Oct 25, 2019

The VA's silencing of whistleblowers

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

An office established by the Trump administration in the Department of Veterans Affairs to protect internal whistleblowers ended up alienating "the very individuals it was meant to protect," according to a VA Office of Inspector General report released Thursday.

Why it matters: Creating a permanent Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection was a key campaign promise of President Trump's, who said he wanted more accountability on veteran's care.

  • Instead, the office "engaged in actions that could be considered retaliatory [against whistleblowers]" and "likely diminished the desired confidence of whistleblowers and other potential complainants in the operations of the office," the report said.

What they're saying, per a VA spokesperson: "VA appreciates the inspector general's oversight and has been encouraging the IG to complete this work for some time, but it's important to note that this report largely focuses on OAWP's operations under previous leaders who no longer work at VA."

Go deeper: Veterans face surprise medical bills from non-VA hospitals

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Technology

The slippery slope of protest surveillance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's call to treat antifa supporters like terrorists could be a green light for high-tech surveillance of dissidents.

Why it matters: It's unlikely the Trump administration can designate antifa as a terrorist group in any legally meaningful way, but the declaration gives law enforcement tacit approval to use a plethora of tech tools to monitor protesters and left-leaning activists.

The biggest crisis since 1968

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Bettmann/Contributor

The year 1968 has been on a lot of people’s minds lately — another year of protests, violence and upheaval that seemed to be tearing the nation apart.

Yes, but: This crisis also has moments we’ve never seen before — and some historians and experts say the differences suggest that 2020 doesn't compare well at all.

SoftBank to launch $100M fund backing companies led by people of color

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure said in a letter to employees early Wednesday that the firm will create a $100 million fund that "will only invest in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color."

Why it matters: The Opportunity Growth Fund is one of the first to put significant capital behind companies' statements of empathy and outrage in response to protests over systemic racism in the U.S. typified by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans by police.