NSWBC Calls for New Legislation
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
JANUARY 16, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON — The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition applauds Al Gore for his nonpartisan speech, which very eloquently and sincerely expresses our core American values based on the notions of liberty and justice. This speech can by no means be characterized as ‘Liberal’ or ‘Conservative’, ‘Democrat’ or ‘Republican’, but only as ‘Truly American.’ As stated by Mr. Gore, without whistleblowers the public would never know of the many abuses of constitutional rights by the government. Whistleblowers, Truth Tellers, are responsible for the disclosure that President George W. Bush ordered unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens.
These constitutional lifeguards take their patriotic oaths to heart and soul: rather than complying with classification and secrecy orders designed to protect officials engaging in criminal conduct, whistleblowers choose to risk their livelihoods and the wrath of their agencies to get the truth out.
Today, in his specific recommendations, Mr. Gore advocated that ‘new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing — especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.’ This statement is also in accord with Bob Barr’s recent agreement in various media forums that national security whistleblower protection is desperately needed.
Sibel Edmonds, Founder & Director of NSWBC, stated: “We applaud the call by Liberty Coalition & Al Gore for congress to enact new legislation that would provide meaningful whistleblower protections, especially for those patriots who report abuses of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.
Hundreds of national security whistleblowers and patriotic government employees have brought to the public?s attention cases of agency wrongdoing, only to find themselves fired, stripped of their security clearance, and/or deprived of meaningful work, simply because they were courageous and patriotic enough to place the security of our nation above their own career security and interests.
Why should government employees have to choose between their livelihood and career, and fulfilling their highest duty of all: protecting the public’s interest? The answer is very simple, because our legislative branch has failed to provide these patriots with any protection.” Ms. Edmonds added: “Whistleblowers have served as a constant and valuable check on the federal government. Considering the fact that to perform its legislative & oversight functions, congress must depend on information from the executive branch, why is it that the congress refuses to provide a safe & protected channel to those who can provide the congress with information, thus enabling it to exercise its oversight responsibility?”
The NSWBC drafted model legislation on whistleblower protection is currently being worked up for submission by several senate offices. The legislation will scrap the ineffective, cumbersome, and narrow Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, and replace it with an act that provides substantial protections for whistleblowers in all areas of government. Presently, whistleblowers in law enforcement and intelligence agencies are excluded from even the meager protections of the WPA.
The NSWBC model bill would criminalize retaliation for whistleblowing, provide for civil liability for adverse employment decisions made for protected disclosures, remove perverse incentives for the executive branch to assert secrecy privileges to defeat whistleblower litigation, and require a truly independent body to investigate whistleblower claims and rectify executive branch abuses.
Congress is currently considering two bills (HR1317 and S494) that allege to provide and extend protection to whistleblowers, but these bills are irretrievably flawed and will do more damage than good if passed. Most importantly, neither bill provides protection for law enforcement and intelligence employees. The very type of whistleblower who can save the country and its citizens from great harm by executive branch malfeasance, incompetence, fraud, and abuse are the same employees excluded from any whistleblower protection. These bills should not pass.
Professor William Weaver, NSWBC Senior Advisor said: “We praise Mr. Gore’s and Mr. Barr’s sentiments and statements and hope that those in Congress will see the wisdom of their former colleagues’ positions. When politicians as diverse in their views as Mr. Gore and Mr. Barr, come together on common ground and agreement to action, then we all must take note.
Now is the time to act to provide substantial whistleblower protection so that executive branch activities remain accountable to the Congress and the public.”
About National Security Whistleblowers Coalition:
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), founded in August 2004, is an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nation?s security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation?s borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct. The NSWBC is dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods, including advocacy of governmental and legal reform, educating the public concerning whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations to affect goals defined in the NSWBC mission statement. For more on NSWBC visit www.nswbc.org