US whistleblowing legislation gets little media attention

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Unlike American news outlets, the US intelligence community is paying a lot of attention right now to HR 1507, known as the 2009 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. The act is currently making the rounds at two US House of Representatives committees, namely the Oversight and Government Reform and the Homeland Security committee. There was an interesting debate yesterday morning at the Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing, where proponents and opponents of HR 1507 focused on the bill’s provisions protecting the rights of whistleblowers in the intelligence and security services. Under current legislation (the 1998 Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, or ICWPA), there is a large gap separating the rights of intelligence and security whistleblowers from those of other government employees. The former are actually required to seek and obtain formal authorization from their agency director prior to disclosing alleged fraud, abuse or waste to congressional oversight committees. Moreover, there is currently no protection in place to help shield security and intelligence whistleblowers from retaliation. Nearly everyone involved in the heated debate agrees that ICWPA is in urgent need of revamping. But not everyone agrees on the precise direction of the required updates. During yesterday’s debate, witnesses from the Government Accountability Project and other lobby groups argued that the deficiencies in the ICWPA regime effectively force whistleblowers to secretly turn to the media when they want to expose illicit or abusive practices. But representatives from the University of Virginia’s Center for National Security Law called the proposed bill “a truly horrible idea that will […] probably get a lot of innocent Americans killed”. IntelNews hears that so far most committee members appear to favor HR 1507. The hearing continues.

About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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