The Post was particularly opposed to a provision in the amendment that would extend whistleblower protections to federal employees in the intelligence community. But as the Times points out, while these employees are on the front lines protecting Americans from dangerous and corrupt government practices, nobody is there to protect them from “retaliation in the form of harassment, intimidation in the workplace, and firings.” To prove its point, the Times cites the experience of Robert MacLean and other federal air marshals who have paid a serious price for blowing the whistle--an issue that POGO explored in great depth in our recent report.
POGO and other groups have also responded to the Post's exaggerated claim about federal whistleblowers making unilateral security breaches: "In fact, because the law will allow for only lawful disclosures to those with the appropriate security clearances, it actually will prevent leaks and so-called 'breaches.'" We've also argued that it is especially important to pass federal whistleblower protections as part of the stimulus bill:
The stimulus bill authorizes the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars; as taxpayers, we need the best oversight possible. Countless studies have verified that whistleblowers are the most effective weapon against fraud....whistleblower protections, unlike every other provision in the stimulus, will save money, not spend it.
Meanwhile, there has been some movement to include federal whistleblower protections in the Senate's version of the stimulus bill. Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have reintroduced the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009, while St. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has introduced a bill to strengthen whistleblower protections for nonfederal and contract workers.
If you haven't done so already, it's not too late to contact your Senators urging them to support the federal whistleblower amendment.
-- Michael Smallberg