Security Agencies and Whistleblowers

Security Agencies and Whistleblowers – New Presidential Directive

On Wednesday, October 10, 2012, President Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive with regard to security agencies and whistleblowers, extending whistleblower protections to national security and intelligence employees. For whistleblowers and their advocates, this is an important victory.

The directive outlines actions like:

  1. A prohibition on retaliation in the intelligence community. This can include demotions, transfers, reassignments, performance evaluation, testing, and more.
  2. A prohibition on retaliation by affecting eligibility for access to classified information. This is a form of retaliation somewhat unique to the intelligence community.
  3. Allowing employees who feel they have been retaliated against to request an investigation by an external review panel.
  4. Issuing policies and procedures to all intelligence community employees on whistleblowing and protections against retaliation within one year.

At the end of September, the House of Representatives passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act – it is now awaiting Senate approval in November. This act will strengthen protections for federal employees who report waste and/or fraud and experience retaliation by supervisors. However, it does not cover members of the intelligence community.

The Presidential Policy Directive issued on October 10, 2012 does what the Whistleblower Protection Act does not: it allows employees with access to classified information a safe and effective way to report waste, fraud, and abuse. Within 270 days, intelligence agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) must establish a review process that allows employees to appeal retaliatory actions. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is not included in this Presidential Policy Directive.

Until those review processes are in place, however, whistleblowers will not have any protections against retaliation in place. Some whistleblower advocates worry about review processes and regulations written by the very agencies accused of retaliating against whistleblowers – and would rather see national security whistleblower protections in legislation.

On the positive side, this Presidential Policy Directive does require each intelligence agency’s review process to be consistent with policies and procedures in the Whistleblower Protection Act. Where claims of retaliation are substantiated, victims can expect reinstatement and compensatory damages. And these directives protect free-speech rights – even where classified information is concerned.

To learn more about whistleblowing and for a free confidential consultation, contact Eric Young at Young Law Group today at 800-590-4116 or email to eyoung@young-lawgroup.com.