Intelligence community whistleblower

The Washington Post reports that Congressional staffers worked through the holiday to complete a report on the House Intelligence Committee’s  Ukraine investigation. It is expected to go to the Judiciary Committee Tuesday. That committee will meet Wednesday review the report and its own findings as it considers articles of impeachment. Those will go to the House floor.

Much has been said about that whistleblower and whistleblowing in general over the past two months. Here’s a roundup of some of our posts.

9/24 Will whistleblower battle lead to a crisis of confidence in the intelligence community?

Whistleblowers from the intelligence community face a different set of rules than other government insiders.


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The Inspector General (IG) of the Intelligence Community, Michael K. Atkinson, calls IGs “first responders.”  In his semi-annual report to Congress, he writes:

As so-called first responders, Inspectors General must act swiftly and appropriately when – through audits, investigations, inspections, or reviews – possible wrongdoing is revealed. They must identify, stop, or correct the problem, and in the process,  they may need to alert those who can assist in the response, whether it be Congress, law enforcement authorities, or others.

He goes on to write that, like all ‘first responders, his team is dependent “upon those who first raise an alarm.” Often, whistleblowers are the first people to note waste or possible wrongdoing.


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FBI whistleblower Michael German writes in today’s Washington Post about flaws in the system designed to protect intelligence community whistleblowers.

The intelligence agencies successfully lobbied for exemptions from whistleblower protections by arguing that these complicated reporting processes are necessary to protect classified information. But this is wrong on two counts. First, intelligence community whistleblowers and

As EU officials move toward better protection for whistleblowers, they are likely watching how our system is holding up. In April, the EU Parliament passed a much-needed law that would shield whistleblowers from retaliation. It also created “safe channels” to allow them to report breaches of EU law. Today, Transparency International’s released an analysis and recommendations designed to help EU nations adopt “best-practice national laws that will effectively protect whistleblowers and support anti-corruption efforts in their country.”

Like they do here, according to 90 people who should know.

From: An Open Letter to the American People

We are former national security officials who proudly served in a wide array of roles throughout the U.S. Government. We are writing about the Intelligence Community whistleblower’s lawful disclosure, which was recently made public. While the identity of the whistleblower is not publicly known, we do know that he or she is an employee of the U.S. Government. As such, he or she has by law the right—and indeed the responsibility—to make known, through appropriate channels, indications of serious wrongdoing. That is precisely what this whistleblower did; and we applaud the whistleblower not only for living up to that responsibility but also for using precisely the channels made available by federal law for raising such concerns.


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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.”
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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. 


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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.”


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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.

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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…


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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