July 28, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
On May 8, 2007, your presidential campaign promised America’s whistleblowers in writing that you stood behind their need for legal protection and fully supported federal court access and jury trials for all federal employees. The House of Representatives enacted these protections when it overwhelmingly passed H.R. 985 in a veto-proof, bipartisan manner. In another bipartisan effort, Representatives Van Hollen (D-MD), Waxman (D-CA), Towns (D-NY), Braley (D-IA), and Platts (R-PA) have reintroduced this bill as H.R.1507.
Now we need your help. While the House version of the bill is more inclusive, the Senate version (S.372) lacks many key protections. The Senate bill currently lacks coverage for the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who participate in the global war on terror and oversee a budget well over $150 billion. Please stand by your promise and ensure that all federal employees receive comprehensive whistleblower protections.
The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia reports on a government study finding that national security whistleblowers need more protection. ‘‘It is better for organisations to receive too much information about wrongdoing than too little, or too late,’’ it says. ‘‘An essential ingredient in any whistleblowing program is the commitment from each organisation to encourage reporting, act on the reports where they have been verified and to protect reporters from any adverse consequences.’’
The article says that Australia's government is planning to introduce whistleblower protection laws. The new government funded study faults the proposed protections for whistleblowers who make disclosures to journalists as being too weak.
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has scheduled its markup of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) for tomorrow, 10:00 a.m. Now is the time to contact your Senators and President Obama and ask them to support adding jury trials for all federal employees, including national security employees. The House bill (HR 1507) is superior in both respects. Sen. McCaskill plans to introduce an amendment to S. 372 to improve it on these issues. The National Whistleblowers Center has launched a Capwiz action page to support these improvements to S. 372, and a twitter page to follow developments at the markup. NWC General Counsel David K. Colapinto will provide his expert analysis and commentary on how the Senate markups affect the strength of the whistleblower protections in this legislation. You can also catch the live video feed from the Committee when it meets tomorrow. Please pass this message on to your friends and family. We need the Senate and President Obama to know that the American public wants all federal employees to be protected when they report waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.