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.


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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.”    
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Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean.  This case arises under the Whistleblower Protection Act. 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.”  The issue before the Court is when a federal statute bars whistleblower from making disclosures that are “specifically prohibited by law,” does this bar also apply to disclosures prohibited by agency regulations?

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New intelligence community whistleblower protections lacking

On July 7, 2014, President Obama signed the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014.” This bill includes a section providing “Protection Of Intelligence Community Whistleblowers.” These protections specify that employees who divulge information about possible misconduct within their agencies to their Inspectors General or other designated intelligence offices