Intelligence community whistleblower ombudsman Dan Meyer has been fired. This is a disturbing and problematic move. It is particularly surprising, or perhaps cynically appropriate, that this occurred shortly after members of the intelligence community (IC) met with whistleblower rights organizations earlier this month.
Meyer had significant experience in whistleblower matters with the Department of Defense and served as an ombudsman in the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General (OIG).
Andrew Bakaj, also formerly of the OIG, stated, “Dan is a highly respectable individual with a lot of courage.” He added that Meyer advocated for a strong whistleblower program with a “two-fold purpose” of “encourag[ing] folks to come forward with information on a problem that the agencies need to know about,” and as a “mechanism to prevent people from making classified information public.”
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to “express deep concern about the Office of Intelligence Community Inspector General.” Senator Grassley has previously asked that all documents be preserved in Meyer’s case.
NWC Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn attended a roundtable discussion with National Security Agency (NSA) Inspector General Robert Storch earlier this month and pointed out the serious deficiencies within the NSA’s current whistleblower law.
Current NSA whistleblower law does not provide for back-pay, lost wages, reinstatement of the whistleblower, statutory attorney fees, or judicial review of administrative decisions. Mr. Kohn advocated for informing whistleblowers of their rights under the False Claim Act and potentially arranging proffer agreements with individuals. The flaws within the NSA’s own whistleblower program apply across-the-board in the IC.
The Meyer firing demonstrates anecdotal evidence that the IC continues to conflate leakers with whistleblowers. Instead of firing intelligence officials for coming forward, they should be praised and rewarded for reporting NSA misconduct. The IC should be promoting people who understand this difference instead of firing them.