On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009. Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.
This post is the tenth in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.
X: IF IN DOUBT – THROW OUT THE CASE!
Buried at the very end of the national security whistleblower section of S. 372 is a grant of unprecedented power to the directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA and every other intelligence agency.
These directors are authorized to have any whistleblower case summarily dismissed, with no administrative or judicial review.
That’s right. The Director of the FBI can simply order the dismissal of any whistleblower case filed by any FBI employee. End of story.
I know this sounds radical, but Section 121(e) (Page 56) grants these powers to the agency directors!
This radical grant of power to the agencies accused of wrongdoing is one of the most obvious manifestation of the deficiencies in the Senate bill. The national security whistleblower provisions are not designed to protect whistleblowers. They are designed to ensure that no whistleblower case is ever filed, and if it is filed, that the whistleblower will lose – not just their case, but potentially their security clearance and their ability to ever work in law enforcement or other security areas again.
The fact that the directors of each agency covered under the national security whistleblower provisions are granted this extraordinary power is simply the last step in a process that undermines whistleblower protections.
It is unacceptable to create a process that grants the agency embarrassed by the whistleblower’s disclosure the authority to summarily and without any judicial review throw out a whistleblower’s case.