Earlier this month Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, attended a roundtable discussion with the National Security Agency (NSA) Inspector General (IG) Robert Storch. The meeting served as an avenue for the IG to hear comments on the NSA’s whistleblower program.

In attendance was Andrew Snowdon, NSA whistleblower coordinator and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) counsel, as well as representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Project on Government Oversight, and Government Accountability Project, among others.

Continue Reading “No Right Without a Remedy”: Why NSA Whistleblower Protections Are Lacking

Over the weekend the Daily Beast reported on a leaked draft investigative report that exposed the systemic failures in the flawed intelligence community whistleblower program. According to this report, late last year the Trump Administration put a lid on the finalization of an investigation of the whistleblower program failures by the Inspector General for all intelligence agencies.  Continue Reading National Security Whistleblowers: Systemic Failures and Broken Promises Exposed in Leaked Report

In a brief 3-page report dated September 15, 2016, the House Intelligence Committee concluded that Edward Snowden “was not a whistleblower” because there were “laws and regulations in effect at the time” that “afforded him protection” and he failed to exercise those whistleblower rights.  The Committee report specifically cited the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (IC WPA) that does permit employees, like Snowden, to make disclosures of wrongdoing to Congress if certain other conditions are met. Continue Reading House Intel Claim that Snowden Had Whistleblower Protection Is False and Misleading

In January 2015, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) submitted a proposed rule it claimed would extend protections under the Civil Service Reform Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act to employees of Federal contractors.  The National Whistleblower Center filed a public comment on March 23, 2015, stating that the proposed rule could cause more harm than good for employees of federal contractors and asked the OSC to withdraw the proposed rule.

On December 30, 2015, the OSC filed a notice in the Federal Register to withdraw the proposed rule.

David Colapinto, NWC General Counsel and author of the NWC’s public rule making comment, discussed the proposed rule and OSC’s decision to withdraw with Federal News Radio. You can read the entire interview here. Continue Reading OSC Withdraws Proposed Rule That May Have Had Unintended Consequences for Federal Contractors

Washington, D.C.  May 7, 2015.  The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) telephone metadata collection program, which gathers up millions of phone records on an ongoing daily basis, is illegal.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden first revealed documents confirming the illegal program’s existence in June of 2013.

The government argued that it was authorized by the Patriot Act to secretly collect such data. Judge Gerard E. Lynch, writing for a three-judge panel, said the program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” Lynch continued that the Patriot Act “cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”

“Whether you supported or opposed Edward Snowden’s disclosure of this massive privacy violation committed by the NSA, the courts ruling today demonstrates the importance of whistleblowing,” stated Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.

“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives the American people the right to know about government misconduct. When our government is systemically violating the rights of its citizens, it often takes the courage of a whistleblower to alert the public to threats to our Liberty,” said Kohn.

There is significant historical precedent for the protection of whistleblowers demonstrating that such protections were strongly supported by the Founding Fathers. Mr. Kohn previously discussed this precedent in a New York Times Op-Ed, The Whistleblowers of 1777. Mr. Kohn is also the author of  The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step by Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself.

Related links:

Decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in ACLU v. Clapper.

U.S. NSA domestic phone spying program illegal: appeals court

NSA mass phone surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden ruled illegal

Sputnik News published an interview today with National Whistleblower Center Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn. In the interview Mr. Kohn discusses the fact that US intelligence agencies are failing to use the skills of Arab-American employees in the War on Terror.

Kohn states in the article “There has been willful and intentional discrimination against loyal and patriotic Arab-Americans who have necessary skills that could have helped.” He concludes that “the FBI and other US intelligence agencies need to target existing discriminatory conduct, eliminate the discrimination and use all resources at their disposal.”

Read the full article here: US Intelligence Agencies Discriminate Against Loyal Arab-Americans – NGO

Related links:

National Security Employees Know Your Rights

Inside the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division


In January the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) proposed a rule that it claims would extend protections under the Civil Service Reform Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act to employees of federal contractors.  However, as my previous blog on this proposed rule stated, the unintended consequences of this rule may cause more harm than good for employees of federal contractors.

On Monday, March 23, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) filed comments on the proposed rule. The submission by the NWC cautioned OSC stating “we believe that part of the proposed rule should be modified to ensure that employees of contractors are aware of their rights under the False Claims Act, and the part pertaining to disclosure of classified information should be withdrawn until further clarification about the use and handling of classified information is provided.” Continue Reading Whistleblower Advocacy Group Warns OSC Proposed Rule for Federal Contractors May Cause Harm

On January 22, the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (Sam Adams) selected retired NSA Technical Director William “Bill” Binney to receive its 2015 award for integrity in intelligence. The award was presented  at a ceremony in Berlin, Germany.

As a 36-year intelligence agency veteran, William Binney resigned from the NSA in 2001 and became a whistleblower after discovering that elements of a data-monitoring program he had helped develop were being used to spy on Americans. Binney explained that he “could not stay after the NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution.”   Continue Reading NSA Whistleblower Wins Sam Adams Award

Washington, D.C. January 22, 2015. Today the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) proposed a rule that it claims would extend protections under the Civil Service Reform Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act to employees of Federal contractors.  However, the unintended consequences of OSC’s proposed rule may cause more harm than good for employees of federal contractors.

This rule may cause confusion and interfere with other preexisting rights contractors have under other laws.  OSC should reconsider whether such a rule is even necessary given that employees of contractors already have stronger whistleblower protections under state and federal law than federal employees.  In any event, if the proposed rule is enacted it should be amended to make sure this confusion or weakening of other rights does not occur.     Continue Reading OSC Proposed Rule For Federal Contractor Employees May Cause Confusion

Washington, D.C.  January 21, 2015.  Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that former Air Marshall Robert MacLean was not “specifically prohibited by law” from disclosing information to the press about TSA’s plan to cutback on the number of air marshals during a terrorist alert.  Such a disclosure was against agency regulations.

The Whistleblower Protection Act prohibits individuals in positions of authority from taking a “personnel action” against a government employee when the employee makes a disclosure, which the employee reasonable believes to evidence a “substantial and specific danger to public health and safety, if such disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law.”     Continue Reading TSA Whistleblower Wins At Supreme Court