“Not the Career in Public Service I Signed Up For”: Federal Workers Protest War

“My employer is murdering babies,” reads a handwritten note posted to Instagram Thursday by a civil servant at the Justice Department. The message is placed atop the employee’s government badge, obscuring their name.

The post is one of more than 50 notes said to be from federal employees protesting the Biden administration’s Gaza policy by snapping pictures of personalized notes atop their badges. The Intercept spoke with six of these federal workers on the condition of anonymity due to fears of retaliation but confirmed their identities and employment.

“We’ve gotten a lot of critiques for doing anonymous letters,” said a State Department staffer with more than two decades of experience who joined the campaign. “It’s important for people to know we’re real human beings and real government employees.”

The online protest campaign is the latest push by Feds United for Peace, a group of federal employees organizing to voice dissent on Gaza. The campaign galvanized after Israel began its attacks on the city of Rafah, according to a Department of Labor employee who helped launch it. The Biden administration warned weeks ago to cut off weapons supplies if Israel launched an assault on Rafah, but has avoided saying the recent airstrikes crossed any “red line.”

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The notes come from employees at various agencies, including the departments of Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Labor, and State, plus the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Social Security Administration, according to organizers. Some of the posted badges belonged to congressional staffers, and one is a diplomatic passport.

“When it gets to the point that federal employees are doing something this personal and direct-action oriented, that speaks to the shift,” said the Justice Department staffer.

Many of the employees who joined the campaign are on the verge of resigning, organizers told The Intercept.

“For me I’ve just reached a point of total frustration,” said a Department of Homeland Security employee. “We see through the gaslighting” over Gaza.

But others see the Instagram posts and campaigns by career federal employees as a complement to the spate of highly publicized resignations. “I do genuinely feel still that I can be more productive staying in the government,” said another State Department employee.

“These are not radicals, not people who break rules or step outside lanes in their professional roles,” said the Justice Department staffer. “For a lot of federal employees, this is the first personal action they’ve taken.”

The post “Not the Career in Public Service I Signed Up For”: Federal Workers Protest War appeared first on The Intercept.