(By Deutsche Welle) US President Obama has signed into law expanded whistleblower protections that cover intelligence agents for the first time. But the protections still do not apply to contractors, such as ex-NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
Five years after vowing to strengthen whistleblower rights, President Barack Obama has extended statutory protections to intelligence agency employees who report abuse, closing a major gap in a law at least ostensibly designed to shield federal workers from retaliation.
Part of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2014, the provisions would protect intelligence agency employees from retaliation if they report waste, fraud or abuse to designated entities. Those entities include superiors at the agency in question, one of the inspector general watchdogs, and the House and Senate intelligence committees.
For the first time, intelligence agency employees can use whistleblowing as an affirmative defense if they suffer retaliation; for example, if their security clearance is taken away. In addition, they are protected from retaliation for cooperating with an investigation or providing testimony under oath. They can also appeal to an internal administrative board to have their grievances redressed.
“It’s a significant precedent,” Shanna Devine, the Government Accountability Project’s legislative director, told DW. “No time before in history have there been enforceable statutory protections for intelligence community government employees.”