Joe Davidson of the Washington Post contacted three former national security whistleblowers whose stories of “official revenge are a frightful warning to the CIA staffer. Yet all three would do it again, in service to their country.”

One of them is Jane Turner, a 25-year veteran special agent with the FBI. She led the FBI’s  programs for women and children on North Dakota Indian reservations. After reporting problems within the child crime program, Turner was retaliated against.

From the Post

 She fought back. A 2015 Government Accountability Report critical of FBI whistleblower procedures said the Justice Department “ultimately found in her favor in 2013 — over 10 years later.”

“Was the destruction of my career and family worth the excruciating time and money, ostracism and vilification? No,” she said Wednesday. “Was standing up and doing the ethical, legal and moral whistleblowing the right thing? Yes. Would I do it again? My moral and legal compass would not allow any different course of action.” Continue Reading National security whistleblowers pay a price for doing the right thing

Every journalist who has ever worked with a whistleblower knows these are fraught relationships. The journalist wants the story. The whistleblower wants justice. Or, maybe revenge. Whistleblowers can be heroic, brilliant, paranoid or deceptive. Journalists can push for too hard for information that may not be in the interest of the whistleblower to share. Or, somebody makes a misstep and the whistleblower is exposed.

Still, the stories they produce are sometimes the best way to right a wrong. So, the NWC was happy to produce a list of tips for journalists working with whistleblowers. We also contributed to a compilation put together by the Journalist’s Resource, a Harvard project that aims to connect reporters with reliable sources of information.

For more on this topic, check out the upcoming Double Exposure film festival and symposium. A session on whistleblowing features Theranos whistleblower Erika Cheung.

The stakes are rising for whistleblowers across the globe. In the United States, whistleblowers are facing prosecution under the Espionage Act like never before, a charge that carries a potential life sentence for speaking up to expose wrongdoing. Elsewhere, whistleblowers face financial and professional ruin, smear campaigns and–in some countries–targeted assassination. What does this mean for the watchdogs in print and film? Continue Reading The journalist and the whistleblower

Sen. Chuck Grassley spoke out in support protecting the IC whistleblower on Tuesday. No surprise here. Below find his most recent remarks for National Whistleblower Day.

From Politico

The most senior GOP senator has fashioned a career on protecting whistleblowers during presidencies of both parties. And in the middle of one of the most tempestuous political storms in two decades, the seventh-term Iowan is sticking to his position even if it’s at odds with the president himself…

Last week, a number of Republicans mounted attacks on the whistleblower as a secondhand source with no direct knowledge of the inner workings of the administration.

“He’s not really a whistleblower, so it’s really more hearsay,” South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said Friday.

Grassley said “the distinctions being drawn between first and secondhand knowledge aren’t legal ones.” He did not mention Trump or his attacks on the whistleblower specifically in his statement, instead asserting that “no one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts.”

Here’s Grassley’s full statement. 

Continue Reading Grassley speaks out in defense of whistleblower. No surprise here.

From The Washington Post on concerns over protections for the IC whistleblower.
Dave Colapinto

Federal laws offer only limited protection for those in the intelligence community who report wrongdoing — even when they follow all the rules for doing so. Trump and his allies, analysts said, might face few, if any consequences, for outing the whistleblower or otherwise upending the person’s career… Notably, analysts said, the law puts the president in charge of enforcement — which is particularly ironic in this case, given Trump is the subject of the complaint.

“So, what kind of protection is this whistleblower going to get through this system?” said David K. Colapinto, the co-founder of the National Whistleblower Center. “But you got to understand that prior to 2014, there was nothing on the books. This is considered an advancement.”

If whistleblowers are fired, demoted or otherwise punished, they can now at least pursue internal remedies, though they cannot go to court, Colapinto said. Such cases, he said, “usually end poorly for the whistleblower.”

Continue Reading Hearsay, treason and growing concern over the fate of the intelligence community whistleblower

Rep. Adam Schiff confirmed on ABC’s This Week that the Ukraine call whistleblower will testify before a Congressional committee. Lawmakers plan to ensure the anonymity of the witness,  said the California Democrat, who is chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Adam Schiff

Now, we are taking all the precautions we can to make sure that …we allow that testimony to go forward in a way to protect the whistleblower’s identity. Because as you can imagine with the president issuing threats like we ought to treat these people who expose my wrongdoing as we used to treat traitors and spies and we used to execute traitors and spies, you can imagine the security concerns here.

Schiff also defended the whistleblower’s integrity and challenged those who say the complaint is based on hearsay.
Continue Reading Whistleblower story dominates Sunday morning news

Can the Ukraine call whistleblower remain anonymous? And, who is obligated to protect his or her anonymity?

Two pieces this weekend explore those questions.

The Washington Post reports that the effort to identify the whistleblower has become “a fixation” on both social media and conservative news sites.

The looming battle over President Trump’s potential impeachment has sparked an online hunt in the far-right corners of the Web as self-styled Internet sleuths race to identify the anonymous person Trump has likened to a treasonous spy.

Their guesses have been scattershot, conspiratorial and often untethered from reality…

Continue Reading The race to reveal the whistleblower, from Reddit to the NY Times

The past day’s demonization of the intelligence community whistleblower has been harsh. But, not surprising. Whistleblowers always face blowback.

And calls for the whistleblower to come forward suggest a lack of understanding of the need for anonymity.

Tom Mueller is author of the forthcoming booAge of Fraud. He writes in Politico that “If the whistleblower’s anonymity is revealed, that could put him or her in dangerous and uncertain territory.” Muller pulls from this thorough research to make that case.

The New York Times chose to report details about the whistleblowers identity and justified it this way:

We decided to publish limited information about the whistle-blower — including the fact that he works for a nonpolitical agency and that his complaint is based on an intimate knowledge and understanding of the White House — because we wanted to provide information to readers that allows them to make their own judgments about whether or not he is credible.

Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told CNN that Trump’s comment calling the whistleblower “almost a spy” is an implicit threat.

“He’s clearly targeting the person who’s filed this complaint that affects him seriously and is kind of laying the marker down that he wants this person’s identity and he wants to be able to follow-up on this. So absolutely a total contravention of all the protections for whistleblowers,” said McCabe, who added that Trump’s comments in front of US government employees suggests a message to others who might come forward with damaging information in the future.

“So, you have to ask, was this some sort of a message to all of those folks and indeed a message to all people serving in the government that if they step forward with complaints, they can expect the President to come after them?”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway described the intelligence community whistleblower as “more blowhard than whistleblower.”

Speaking to Fox News, she said “I don’t consider them to be spies, but anybody who leaks conversations that are classified or are of national security sensitivity ought not to be working in the government — whoever you are — and I hope you’re watching, whoever you are.”

The Onion had some fun with their piece

Approval of Whistleblowers Will Get Them Out Of Jail:

I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before they clear my name and let me go,” (Reality) Winner said by phone from a federal prison in Texas, echoing the sentiments of (Chelsea) Manning, who told reporters she expected not only to be released from jail but also to be allowed to return immediately to active duty in the Army. 

 

 

A bill strengthening anti-retaliation protections for wildlife whistleblowers made it out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday, marking another move to improve protections for insiders who expose wrongdoing.

The Rescuing Animals with Rewards (RAWR) Act improves the reach and rewards for wildlife whistleblower programs. In addition, it adds anti-retaliation protections to current wildlife whistleblower laws like the Endangered Species Act and Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act.

The National Whistleblower Center, which runs a wildlife whistleblower program, supports the act. “The RAWR Act would be a critical addition to the current legal framework. Whistleblower rewards are proven to work. When offered by the State Department for assistance with law enforcement actions worldwide, and in conjunction with protections against retaliation, the Act will offer a powerful tool in combating illegal wildlife trafficking.”

At the same time, the explosive intelligence community whistleblower case has put the topic on the top of the national agenda.
Here’s some of the latest in this constantly developing story.

Continue Reading Bill would benefit wildlife whistleblowers. What laws protect other whistleblowers?

The job of the investigative journalist is to look at how things are supposed to work and report when something is amiss. Sometimes they can follow a paper trail and talk to enough people on the record to get the story. Often, they need an inside source – a whistleblower.

And often the whistleblower needs the press to get the word out. Or they find themselves sucked into a news story, like it or not. A letter from a Congressional committee ends up in a Washington Post story, triggering the cascade of events now playing out. Calls from a reporter shine light on misbehavior of a legendary opera singer, TV host or movie mogul.

The relationship is never simple. The journalists and the whistleblowers don’t always have the same agenda. Depending on who is blowing the whistle and how, it often can hurt a whistleblower’s options if they run to the press first. Continue Reading Like this week’s news, upcoming film festival highlights links between whistleblowers and journalists

Not all the recent whistleblower news from Capitol Hill involves the president and the Ukraine.  The House last week passed a bill that would add a whistleblower protection provision to rules governing a national accounting oversight board. And on Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), introduced a bill that advocates say will protect whistleblowers who report financial crimes internally before going to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

That bill would address the impact of last year’s Supreme Court decision in Digital Realty Trust Inc. v. Somers.  The ruling limited protected whistleblowing to disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), leaving those who report internaly vulnerable, according to Stephen Kohn, chair of the National Whistleblower Center.  Continue Reading Lawmakers take up bills to protect whistleblowers who expose financial and wildlife crimes