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Cathy A. Harris, LGBTQIA2S+ people & the U.S. Merit(less) Systems Protection Board (MSPB)

by Martin Edwin Andersen
As a private attorney in a Washington, D.C. law firm Cathy A. Harris served as the chair of the firm’s Sexual Harassment and LGBT Practice sections. As Acting Chair of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, she refuses to honestly address anti-LGBTQIA2S+ hate at the National Defense University (NDU) and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). You be the judge.
The Petitioner ... asks the (United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit) to compare Ms. Harris’ understandable gratitude to her wife for her support throughout the process after being nominated by President Joseph Biden, to how the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) 11/17/2022 “Nonprecedential ... Final Order”] by Ms. Harris et. al addressed the Petitioner’s persistent whistleblowing against repugnant and systemic bias against LGBTQIA2S+ people at the National Defense University / Defense Security Cooperation Agency (NDU/DSCA), efforts which helped cost his own family much heartache and many missed opportunities.

The homophobia in particular got so bad that NDU/DSCA Col. (ret.) Richard D. Downie actually prohibited the Petitioner, both an assistant professor as well as a chief for strategic communications, from using light red (ie: pink) in any promotional material.

If only that was an outlier. Nowhere does the NDU/DSCA and MSPB renditions on the Petitioner’s telling truth to power include an email, “Morale at CHDS/John Thompson,” sent on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 1:37 PM to NDU/DSCA serial wrongdoer Kenneth LaPlante. In it, the Petitioner reported about the grossly homophobic behavior of far-right Gen. (ret.) John Thompson, the person Col. (ret.) Downie put in charge to respond to any of the Petitioner’s 2011 public disclosures and a constant purveyor of hate speech:

From: Martin E. Andersen
Date: Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 6:54 PM
Subject: Tom, here is the 2nd Annex, also edited by ____... Thanks
To: Tom Devine

Annex No. 2

On the “Right” Side …: General John Thompson

Per our conversation earlier this morning, this is to confirm to you that in my conversation late Friday with the director (Richard D. Downie), I let him know of the serious morale problem here at the center that needs to be addressed by him, including an atmosphere that has allowed certain senior staff to make comments about other staff and senior DoD personnel that are degrading and/or libelous. I urged him to address this situation, the extent of which I believe he did not know about, as soon as possible because this is affecting whether strong CHDS performers plan to stay with the Center or to seek employment elsewhere. … Thompson, who has several times when speaking about (CHDS PROFESSOR) Michael Gold-Biss used a falsetto voice and limp wristed hand gestures when Michael is not around.

The most recent example was in a meeting in the Directors' Conference Room two weeks ago on the Bolivia project, I believe the same day Michael was informed that he had been pulled off the CHDS delegation to La Paz. Mr. Thompson mentioned to me in an aside that he wanted press guidance because he did not want someone--he specifically mentioned Michael—‘screwing up.’ He used a high-pitched voice and limp hand gestures when he mentioned Michael's name. I will be clear. Not only do I believe that Michael is a very intelligent, hardworking member of the Center faculty. I have known him for more than 15 years and consider him a good friend. Mr. Thompson has made these kinds of comments about Michael in the past and has generally demonstrated a disrespectful attitude towards others here at the Center, including lodging patently false characterizations about CHDS staff to people outside the Center.

As I mentioned before, in Nicaragua, I had occasion to travel with the director and Mr. Thompson in a cab that had picked us up in front of the Defense Ministerial conference center. The subject turned to the CHDS trifold, which you will recall, was published in Spanish in red ink, some of which had a pinkish tint. When the director reiterated that he did not want any ‘pink’ handouts produced in the future, Mr. Thompson used the occasion to insinuate that current and former DoD leadership (___ and ___) owed their positions to a ‘gay mafia,’ and made comments about their alleged sexual orientation. I was very uncomfortable in the situation and tried to make a joke about how I ‘got it’ that we were not to use pink in the future.

Not only were Mr. Thompson's comments highly inappropriate, I had to wonder--as I think I mentioned before--about operational security issues, as we did not know the taxicab driver and we were in a country where a good part of the population votes for political leadership that is hostile to the United States.

As I know you will agree, rumor mongering and uncharitable parodies of CHDS staff and department senior leadership by colleagues put the Center's mission at risk, are against DoD rules and regulations, and make an uncomfortable work environment. I also have shared the most recent incident and the others with Michael as they occurred. I hope you will have an opportunity to speak with him about what is going on here.”

Please note that the Petitioner’s disclosures, ignored up the NDU/DSCA chain of command for more than five years, then made public in 2011, focused not only against torturers, clandestine murderers and military coup mongers, but also on vicious anti-LGBTQIA2S+ behavior and virulent and pernicious racism and sexism. (The latter also committed entirely by senior staff promoters and protectors of vice ADM (ret.) Ann E. Rondeau, who was apparently willing to look the other way even on “misconduct” [and the physical assault of other NDU/DSCA employees] as long as they did not affect her [failed] efforts to become the first woman Commander of U.S. Southern Command.)

Ms. Harris et. al’s NFO mentions of anti-LGBTQIA2S+ behavior, racism, and sexism?

Nothing, nada, absolutely ZILCH … nothing on who engaged in it (NDU/DSCA senior staff) and who (the Petitioner) fought against it using peaceful, mostly chain of command disclosures.
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