One year ago today, the Senate passed Resolution 202, establishing National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30. Passage of Resolution 202 was led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and was passed by unanimous consent.
Truly remarkable in this era of partisan rancor.
And it’s not just Congress that sees the importance of this issue. The Obama administration has also been doing its part to increase whistleblower protections for those who disclose waste, fraud and abuse. On November 27, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). The WPEA provides millions of federal workers with the rights they need safely to report government corruption and wrongdoing.
President Obama also has issued Presidential Policy Directive 19 (PPD-19), which extends whistleblower protections to the federal government’s intelligence community employees. The directive provides for reinstatement, compensatory damages, restoration of back pay and other remedies in cases where retaliation for whistleblowing is substantiated.
PPD-19 is great news for direct employees of the federal government. However, it fails to offer or extend any whistleblower protections to employees of intelligence community contractors, like Edward Snowden.
In December 2012, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence successfully insisted that whistleblower rights be stripped from these contractors. Surprisingly, President Obama agreed.
Congress must now restore whistleblower rights for employees of contractors for the CIA, NSA and other intelligence community agencies, in addition to intelligence community contractors at the FBI and other government agencies. And the President must sign the bill.
The country can’t afford for intelligence community employees to remain silent with evidence of government wrongdoing, whether the misconduct breaches security, threatens freedom, spreads corruption, or all of the above.
On this National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, we urge Congress to extend whistleblower protections to all of its contracted employees and especially those in the intelligence community.
Keith Wrightson is Public Citizen’s workplace safety expert. Keep up with Public Citizen’s workplace health and safety work by following @SafeWorkers on Twitter.