WHISTLEBLOWERS -- "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchmen?)," probably the single most memorable line by the Second Century Roman satirist Juvenal, could not be more timely at a point where the federal whistleblower protection law is up for reform, but leaving the one category of United States employees most critical to combating terrorism—national security workers—utterly exposed to career cancer for calling attention to incompetence and worse in our homeland security and intelligence ranks. Colleen Rowley and Tom Devine explain.
When will the politicians respect reality? President Obama recently fired his National Director of Intelligence Dennis Blair in an ostensible effort to somehow remedy the intelligence community's failures in missing the clues to these last attempted terrorist attempts. High level agency officials such as Blair, however, sit in their offices in Washington. It is front lines government employees who actually do the work, respond to leads, conduct security checks, monitor procedures, and deal with passengers -- they are the ones who not only spot fraud, waste, and abuse but can also identify public safety problems. Without the freedom to warn for those on the front lines, the president and the public will keep getting blindsided.
The politicians need to stop stalling in the end game to restore a credible Whistleblower Protection Act. Delays could be deadly for Americans.
Let national security whistleblowers in from the cold. All national leaders should consider the President's stated realization: "It is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged. That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it. Time and again, we've learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary." True enough. But without whistleblower protection for those on the front lines, improved security from current reviews will be as much a mirage as whistleblower protection is today.
Meanwhile, reports Steven Aftergood in his Secrecy News blog, an FBI translator has just been sentenced to 20 months in prison for leaking classified documents to a blogger. He said his intent was to expose what he called "an abuse of power and a violation of the law," but he now realizes he should have taken his concerns to the Inspector General of the Justice Department when his superiors did not heed him—and not to the media. This conviction is only the third on record for leaking classified information to the media, but it's the longest.