Senate Judiciary Committee

More FBI whistleblower reforms needed in next Congress

December 12, 2016. In the wee hours of Saturday morning’s lame duck session, the U.S. Senate passed a truncated version of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). This bill was drawn from an excerpted portion of a bill of the same name, originally introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in 2015. Whereas the original bill was a full reform of the broken FBI whistleblower protection system, there were last minute objections from the intelligence community that prevented enactment of the full FBI WPEA.


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On December 6th, the National Whistleblower Center filed an amicus brief in support of FBI whistleblower Darin Jones. Jones alleged he made whistleblower disclosures about an improper award of a $40 million contract and other improper procurement spending at the FBI. The FBI fired him from his position as a Supervisory Contract Specialist, which Jones alleges was done as an act of retaliation for his whistleblowing. The FBI argued that the current inadequate whistleblower protections at the FBI did not protect Jones because they require whistleblowers to report to the highest-ranking FBI official at their job site, rather than reporting to their immediate supervisor, which is consistent with FBI policy. Because Jones behaved in a manner consistent with standard practices at the FBI of reporting alleged wrongdoing through the managerial chain of command, he was written out of whistleblower protection for supposedly not reporting his allegations to the correct office and the retaliation against him has thus far been tolerated by the Department of Justice.

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Today the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, a bi-partisan bill designed to protect FBI whistleblowers.  The bill, introduced by Committee Chair Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, will reform current FBI whistleblower protections by providing compensatory damages for whistleblowers, expanding the scope of protected activity, ending bureaucratic delays in processing cases, and allowing for case review by independent administrative law judges. Now it will advance to the full Senate for a vote.
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On March 5, Kevin Gosztola wrote the below article about the FBI’s failed whistleblower program and the recent Senate hearings, for The Dissenter on Firedoglake.

FBI’s Culture of Hostility Toward Whistleblowers—And How Justice Department Permits Policy of Retaliation

On March 6, Sputnik News also published an article about the failure of the FBI to protect

Washington, D.C. March 4, 2015. The lack of whistleblower protections for FBI employees was the subject of a Senate Judiciary Hearing held Wednesday, March 4. Senators from both sides of the aisle were outraged by the amount of retaliation FBI whistleblowers face along with the failure of the FBI whistleblower program to appropriately handle such cases.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, testified before the Committee stating that “The Department of Justice’s program for protecting FBI whistleblowers is broken.”

“Whistleblowers should not have to fear retaliation for speaking up, and they should not have to wait a decade for relief,” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said during the hearing. 
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Urgent Action Needed!!

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a critical hearing Wednesday, March 4, 2015 on FBI whistleblowers.  They will hear testimony from current and former FBI agents and the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center describing how FBI whistleblowers are subjected to illegal retaliation, and how the system designed to protect them

Washington, D.C.  February 24, 2015.  On Wednesday, February 25, at 2:30 p.m. (ET), Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden will host a press conference to launch the Whistleblower Protection Caucus in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  Sen. Grassley is the chairman of the caucus and Sen. Wyden is the vice-chairman.

A number of whistleblowers and whistleblower advocates will also be in attendance, including FBI crime lab whistleblower Dr. Frederic Whitehurst and Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.

Senator Grassley, the leading champion of whistleblower protection on Capitol Hill, announced the formation of a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus on the 25th Anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 this past April 10th. 
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