Washington, D.C. January 17, 2014. Today President Obama gave a much anticipated speech in which he addressed the National Security reforms his administration will put in place. The reforms he identified are woefully shortsighted with regard to providing protection for National Security whistleblowers. President Obama acknowledged the potential abuse that can arise from the NSA surveillance programs, citing the illegal surveillance of civil rights leader Dr. King. However, he offered no meaningful way for patriotic whistleblowers to bring forward concerns and abuses taking place out of pubic view.
The President of the National Whistleblower Center, Michael D. Kohn issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s reforms:
“Until President Obama recognizes the critical and essential role whistleblowers play in keeping us safe from illegal invasions of privacy and civil liberties, the changes to the programs under consideration are nothing more than short-term widow dressing.
It is time that the President and Congress step up to the plate and work with the National Whistleblower Center and other public interest organizations to forge a framework that provides national security whistleblowers a meaningful avenue to air concerns and cure retaliation. Congress and the President must do their jobs, and stop destroying the lives of civil servants who try to report misconduct. A free and open society deserves nothing less.”
There is significant historical precedent for the protection of whistleblowers demonstrating that such protections were strongly supported by the Founding Fathers. NWC Executive Director, Stephen Kohn, previously discussed this precedent in his New York Times Op-Ed, The Whistleblowers of 1777. Mr. Kohn is also the author of The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step by Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (Lyons Press, 2011).
The National Whistleblower Center’s position on President Obama’s “Policy Directive" on National Security Whistleblowers is linked here.