Above Photo: Joseph Carson. Courtesy of guest.
The nuclear safety engineer has spent most of his career at the Energy Department challenging everything from the country’s nuclear weapons program to its whistleblower adjudication infrastructure.
Joseph Carson, an Energy Department nuclear safety engineer originally from Brooklyn, NY, walked into the moral hazard of working for the U.S. government nearly as soon as his career started. The very first program he worked in during the Cold War led to the development of a nuclear weapon that could kill 20 million people in one fell swoop. The alarm bells immediately started ringing as the federal employee considered his work in the context of the engineering code of ethics he’d been educated in. What started as disclosures about the safety of federal workers in 1991–a report his manager immediately threw away–later became charges about reprisals against him for blowing the whistle on his employer.
Unlike many other whistleblowers, however, Carson has somehow hung on to his job for decades and even continued to receive bonuses despite the years of legal headaches and expenses he’s caused not only the Department of Energy, but the White House itself. In fact, now his main official complaints are about how the whistleblower adjudication infrastructure is failing. On this week’s “Scheer Intelligence,” Carson joins host Robert Scheer to talk about the years of formal complaints he’s issued against federal government agencies, and why, at age 68, he refuses to retire from what he openly calls a “corrupt” DOE.
During the episode, Carson goes so far as to challenge “Scheer Intelligence” listeners to report him through the U.S. Office of Special Counsel via complaint forms at www.osc.gov. The whistleblower strongly believes he’s in the right, he tells listeners, but hasn’t been given the chance to make his case–an opportunity he may be given if the OSC receives complaints. According to the whistleblower, instead of taking seriously Carson’s many complaints initially aimed at keeping his colleagues safe from nuclear exposure (and the many illnesses that stem from this), Energy Department lawyers have brazenly told him he has no real legal recourse despite this being the very definition of his job as an internal watchdog.
“Thirty years ago [the DOE lawyers] sat me down and told me up front, ‘Here are the three rules of employment at the Department of Energy: Rule number one: If it’s legal, it’s ethical. Rule number two: If we get away with it, it’s legal. Rule number three: The only right you have as the concerned employee is the right to seek employment elsewhere.”
Listen to the full conversation between Carson and Scheer as the whistleblower tells the host about some of the positive outcomes of his work, as well as why he felt counterintuitively relieved after the September 11 terror attacks.
Host: Robert Scheer
Producer: Joshua Scheer
Introduction: Natasha Hakimi Zapata