Are intelligence officials trying to hamper the Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection program? Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is asking.
In a letter to National Intelligence Director Dan Coates, Grassley referred to allegations that the decision to put the director of the program on leave in late November was retaliatory.
The Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection program is meant to help workers in intelligence agencies report fraud, waste and abuse. One of the director’s responsibilities is whistleblower outreach.
While insisting they support whistleblower programs, intelligence officials haven’t publicly said why the director of the program was put on administrative leave — and escorted out of his offices — pending a tribunal in regards to his proposed termination.
“For the agency to take such a drastic personnel action while there is no confirmed, permanent Inspector General in place irreparably undermines the independence of that office,” Grassley said in a Nov. 29 letter obtained by the Associated Press.
The Republican said it would be “unacceptable” if the director’s leave was the result of retaliation for discussing whistleblower issues with Congress. Grassley asked for his staff to be given all documents in regards to the decision by Dec. 8 and called on the acting inspector general for the intelligence agencies to secure the director’s offices, which probably contain information about open whistleblower cases.
Some whistleblower groups are concerned that the action may have been taken in retaliation for being too effective an advocate.
Since the program was established by law, intelligence agency officials can’t get rid of it, but keeping its leader from being effective could accomplish much the same goal, according to the executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.
“They don’t want a whistleblower advocate in that position,” he said. “He is aggressive. He is aggressively pro-whistleblower. … He has held intelligence agencies accountable. If he is removed, the program is dead. No one will trust it and they shouldn’t.”
“This looks like a blatant attempt to get rid of him simply because he is doing his job,” added the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.
If you are considering blowing the whistle on waste, fraud or abuse in an intelligence agency, it is now even more important to protect yourself from retaliation. It’s a good idea to discuss your situation with a federal employment law attorney before taking any action at work. Your attorney can help you gather evidence properly and build a case that protects your rights while holding wrongdoers accountable.