National-security whistle-blower Diane Kleiman has filed a lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in a case involving corruption and egregious security breaches at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
In 1999, Kleiman, a former Queens prosecutor who was a U.S. Customs special agent, blew the whistle about alleged drug overdoses by Customs employees, drug trafficking and money laundering by low-level employees of a major airline, lack of proper background checks for airline employees and cash missing from seizures.
was asked to commit perjury by her
supervisor to conceal successful drug smuggling by the airline employees.
refused to participate in the cover-up, she
In the case filed today, Kleiman
alleges that she
was the victim of violations of her
privacy, fair employment and whistle-blower protection rights.
maintains that the discrimination practiced against her
in the hostile workplace environment included being called epithets such as "Jew bitch.
Kleiman, who has been unable to find work since leaving Customs, is demanding back pay, benefits, attorneys fees and other compensatory damages.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Kleiman
helplessly watched bodies fall from the burning World Trade Center just two blocks from her
As the second plane screamed overhead, she
could only shout: "F___ Customs, f___ Customs!"
Kleiman's rage was due to the fact her
warnings about the alleged cover-up and the potential security risks it posed prior to Sept. 11 were ignored.
Kleiman says the letter she received announcing that she had been fired "stated that I was fired for sharing information with a DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] agent which led to the arrest of an individual with 46.2 pounds of cocaine.
How does the government think that the Homeland Security program will succeed when agencies do not share information?"
that current efforts to beef up security by airport screening and background checks will not protect the American public from potential harm if senior Customs management officials are allowed to continue to engage in what she
describes as self-serving bureaucratic damage control.
"In January 1999, I had seized about $30,000 taped to the belly of a baggage handler who worked for American Airlines
and who was an illegal alien," Kleiman
"Upon doing a background check, I determined that this very same employee had been stopped only three months earlier for attempting to smuggle about the same amount of money.
My boss refused to allow me to report this employee to security at American Airlines
and at the time of my firing, he
was still employed at the airlines."
"Further, after this incident, I started driving my unmarked government vehicle on the ramps, and [although] I was in plainclothes in completely restricted areas, I was never stopped and questioned as to who I was and what I was doing there," Kleiman
On March 13, 1999, based on information former Customs Special Agent Diane Kleiman received from a veteran DEA agent in Florida, she arrested a courier carrying 46.2 pounds of cocaine into JFK airport on an American Airline's plane.
Seated closely nearby to the courier, was an American Airline employee with a key to the exit gate.
agent, who had already made numerous arrests based on this pattern, informed Special Agent Kleiman that airline employees were assisting drug couriers into the country, using their exit keys to bypass Customs and Immigration checks.
Although this information was given to the U.S. Attorney's Office
at the time, they still chose to release the airline employee.
Six months prior to the 911 attack, Special Agent Diane Kleiman again warned the very same U.S. Attorney's office that a tragedy would occur because of the lack security at American Airlines.
herself was an former Assistant District Attorney at the Queens District Attorney's office.
told them that if these employees had such easy access to the planes, they could place bombs and weapons on the planes.
further informed them that American Airlines
were not doing background checks on its employees and many that were hired were illegals.
These employees were given ramp passes, giving them access to the ramps from public streets.
With this access, they could do surveillance and observe the schedules of when planes landed and departed and the security in the airport.
The U.S. Attorney's Office dismissed former Special Agent Diane Kleiman by saying they would look into it and never got back to her.
reported these security breaches to her
Senior Managers in Customs
, they fired her
for raising these issues.
During the tenure of former Special Agent Diane Kleiman at the JFK airport, she blew the whistle about drug overdoses and deaths amongst Special Agents, cash disappearing from seizures, and serious lapses in security at American Airlines that allowed drugs and illicit cash to flow with the collision of low-level airline employees.
For refusing to go along with a cover-up which required her
to commit perjury in the Grand Jury, her
life and the lives of family members were threatened as well as her
refusal to participate in this illegality, she
was fired and then blackballed by former bosses.
has since been unemployed for well over three years now.
CEADA is made up of scores of other whistleblowers like former Special Agent Diane Kleiman that was only looking out for the public's health and safety.
Former Customs Special Agent Diane Kleiman will be present on September 24, 2002 at l:00 p.m. at New York City Hall where she will be telling her story to the New York City Council in order to encourage the members to implement legislation ensuring stronger whistleblower rights to New York City employees.
On September 17-18, 2002, she met with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in New York, the office that oversee whistleblower protection, who recently accepted her case because of 911.
In the next few weeks, she
will be meeting with Senators along with Attorney Doug Hartnett, National Security Director and Attorney Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower watchdog group, (202) 408-0034, www.whistleblower.org.
Please add this whistleblower to your calendar and listen closely to what she
has to say.