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Can the government fire someone without saying why?

In 2009, the government stripped John Dullahan's security clearance and fired him from his job at the Defense Intelligence Agency, invoking a national security clause that states that it would harm the interests of the United States to inform him of the accusations against him.

By Local Editors  |  November 26, 2010; 9:21 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The government should be allowed to fire anyone for any legit--non-political--reason but, yes, they should be required to give an explanation, even, such as in the case of Dullahan, if it is simply "three suspect polygraph results." Short of blatant discrimination, government actions should be final as there are too many government workers holding jobs without accountability. Government jobs are not jobs for life.

Posted by: MatthewWeaver | November 26, 2010 10:20 PM

The patriot act in progress ... welcome to the new republic empire.

Posted by: knjincvc | November 27, 2010 12:57 AM

There must be a lot of government employees answering this poll. In the private sector, most employees are employed at will, and can be fired at any time for any reason or for no reason. I wouldn't deny the U.S. government the same right, especially for national security.

Posted by: pundito | November 27, 2010 12:58 AM

Because something is done by private industry, non-profits, etc. does not make it morally or ethically right.

Posted by: n01cat1 | November 27, 2010 5:03 AM

at NO1: are you implying that it is morally and ethically right to skulk around spying?

Posted by: rubyredshoes | November 27, 2010 7:22 AM

Mr. Dullahan was not just terminated, something that happens to many political appointees when administrations change but also, he lost his Security Clearance - effectively making it impossible for him to earn a living in his chosen field. I find it most interesting that he was asked about his ties to Ireland.

Having an Irish name that matches that of someone involved in terrorist activities in Ireland, has put many Americans on the "no-fly" list, making travel by air a difficult process. Perhaps this is the link for Mr. Dullahan, not his interactions with Soviets and East Germans.

Posted by: carolineC1 | November 27, 2010 7:39 AM

The question about the Irish was probably asked to baseline his polygraph test. Polygraphs are a bit of theater and highly subjective. The battery of questions is selected to make the subject uneasy. Very unfair.

Posted by: maus92 | November 27, 2010 9:32 AM

If he failed the same question area on the polygraph several times, that might be a key reason for his firing.

Posted by: yeswecan3 | November 27, 2010 9:41 AM

Every employee deserves due process. If a soldier with a high clearance was suffering from PTSD, would you fault him? If he was suffering from an Anxiety Disorder or Depression that was induced by stress, I can see how he wouldn't be able to pass the test. He must tell poly person this though.

Taking this kind of test, even if given the questions in advance is a stressful situation!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | November 27, 2010 10:10 AM

For most government jobs, the answer would be no, the government can't fire someone without due process. But for government jobs where there is a law saying that one can be fired without reason and without recourse, then obviously one can be fired from those jobs without reason or recourse. And one knew that from the beginning, when one was hired.

Posted by: Don19 | November 27, 2010 10:25 AM

I believe that all employees should be given an explanation for their termination; whether or not such explanations will be honest is another issue.

Posted by: lbrown372 | November 27, 2010 10:31 AM

Individuals are not informed of of adverse information and are circumvented from correcting, amending or challenging records used in employment actions.

This is government policy, in violation of the privacy act and the freedom of information act. Each time a individuals records are reviewed a "passover" is imparted into the individuals record.
These passover records distroy an individuals employment prospects for life.

This is structural discrimination.

The Washington Post was provided with 16 pounds of government documents illustrating these illegal programs more than 2 years ago. The WP misleads the public. is being set up.

Programs are all run by attorneys.
Agency General Counsels and
Inspector Generals, along with their auditors.

Posted by: OracleConsult | November 27, 2010 10:53 AM

This is pretty bizarre stuff. I don't think this gentleman has been treated fairly, but there seems to be more than the usual amount of paranoia in government circles these days.

Posted by: khrabb | November 27, 2010 11:22 AM

One poster said "Welcome to the New Republic." I say, "Welcome to the Obama communist regime." This is scary stuff. We, the People must stop it!

Posted by: annnort | November 27, 2010 12:26 PM

"There must be a lot of government employees answering this poll. In the private sector, most employees are employed at will, and can be fired at any time for any reason or for no reason. I wouldn't deny the U.S. government the same right, especially for national security.

Posted by: pundito | November 27, 2010 12:58 AM "

Very funny.

I'd require that it be the other way around...or are you one of those doing the firing?

Posted by: Over-n-Out | November 27, 2010 1:21 PM

Can they do it under law? Yes
Is it fair? No
Is life fair? No
Obviously has to do with some aspect of his security clearance and failing a polygraph could do it.
I'm betting he knows what the issue is that is causing his failure as he must have passed it previously for as long as he's been in the business.
I doubt this is a complete mystery to him.

Posted by: MarineDolphin | November 27, 2010 1:36 PM

Marinedolphin, if you read the article, yes, this is not a complete mystery. But he can never know for sure unless someone tells him the reason he was fired.

This is not just a simple firing. This man's honor and patriotism are being thrown into question. He cannot just go out and get another job. It's not as if he was incompetent, lazy, or stealing from the company. His very loyalty to the US is called into question.

Could any of you just shrug, pick up, and go on? I know I couldn't.

Posted by: arancia12 | November 27, 2010 6:41 PM

It is not fair to fire someone without giving a reason, but not reporting contacts with foreign agents was a major gaffe.

Posted by: starling1 | November 27, 2010 8:05 PM

The government has a history of "Passing the Buck"...they should always have a valid reason for firing the CORRECT PERSON, however their moto is "There always has to be a Fall Guy"

Posted by: Giehll77 | November 29, 2010 5:31 PM

Some forty years ago when interviewed before a DOD clearance was granted to me,I was told both verbally and in writing that the clearance could be revoked at any time without having to spell out a cause. I make the point to remind that having a clearance is not some "right" but a status granted so that the Government's work can securely carry on.

Beware with hand-wringing because a clearance was revoked. Consider this week's news...Are we to do nothing when a pfc reveals thousands of classified documents and puts egg on Uncle Sam's face? Is some renegade Australian to be tolerated for exposing U.S. diplomatic communiques for the world to read.

With some of their utterances, Limbaugh, Bachmann, Palin and their ilk should face a charge of Treason. Indeed a "Truth in the News Law" may also be a great idea. When language is perverted and facts juxtaposed to make a pompous lie into "truth" we should be able to do something about this spoiled brat treasonous conduct.

Any man or woman is responsible for his/her utterances and if that speech is nothing but smart-Alec invective, they should be brought to account. Deflate the bloviators.

Posted by: doppler1 | November 30, 2010 6:45 PM

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