By Miranda Leitsinger, msmbc.com
The Food and Drug Administration electronically spied on whistleblowers who alerted the Obama administration and Congress of alleged misconduct in the agency, particularly relating to what they claim was the push to approve unsafe and ineffective medical devices, according to a complaint filed in federal court.
The complaint, filed on behalf of six former and current employees, alleges that the FDA and a number of others violated a host of the plaintiff’s rights, including freedom of speech, association and due process; unreasonable search and seizure; and the right to petition Congress. Named as defendants are the FDA and several of its employees, the Surgeon General, the Health and Human Services Secretary, among others.
“The heart of it is an injunction prohibiting the government from targeting whistleblowers or anyone who engages in First Amendment protected speech for surveillance. You know, routine monitoring or monitoring done to everybody on an equal basis is fine, but you can’t select people because of their whistleblowing for this type of instrusive, over-the-top surveillance, which is done without a warrant, without any limitations whatsoever,” said Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center and lead attorney on the case.
The FDA said Monday it would not comment on ongoing litigation.