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Despite What Obama Says, Intelligence Contractors Have Few Protections

President Obama

In a news conference last week, President Obama implied that Edward Snowden could have voiced his concerns through official channels and been protected from retaliation as a whistleblower, according to an article in The Washington Post.

Except whistleblower protections do not extend to intelligence and national security government contractors. It is true the a recent presidential policy directive from Obama extended protections to intelligence community employees for the first time, but that only covers federal employees and not contractors like Snowden, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton at the time of his leak.

This lack of protection is disturbing as contractors make up an increasing share of the government workforce, especially in the intelligence community.

From the Washington Post article:

“They are a workforce of people with whom we entrust our nation’s deepest secrets, but give them no protections if they want to disclose wrongdoing,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.

Contractors who have their claims of retaliation substantiated after blowing the whistle are few and far between. POGO strongly supported bipartisan legislation to extend whistleblower protections to all federal contractors, arguing that whistleblowers have saved taxpayers $27 billion since 1987. However, when those protections finally became law, intelligence and national security contractors were excluded.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Image from The White House.

By: Andre Francisco
Online Producer, POGO

andre francisco Andre Francisco is the Online Producer for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Whistleblower Protections

Related Content: Government Privatization, Intelligence

Authors: Andre Francisco

Submitted by Bear at: August 18, 2013
The president and congress has been telling lie after lie about this NSA spying on Americans since Snowden alerted us to it and the secret rubber stamp court that controls it. This NSA spying goes beyond searching for terrorist information and is storing every world we speak and write and is in direct violation of the 4th amendment to the constitution.
Submitted by Radhs at: August 17, 2013
thank-you for being there from all of us who have families to care for and little time to read extensively. I heard that speech and did not know it did not cover contractors like snowden.
Submitted by Stryke1 at: August 17, 2013
Why do you think the government went to contractor services.
Submitted by AliceWeir at: August 17, 2013
Yes, and not only that, but retaliation is nearly guaranteed. It will come from the contract company, which will attempt to protect its own relationship with its cash cow agency and avoid potential liability. I can absolutely assert that Northrop Grumman behaves in this manner. Considering that in some agencies, contractors well outnumber direct federal employees, the problem is obvious. If the agency itself is in any way culpable (or even potentially culpable, or evenn slightly politically vulnerable), the contractor has literally nowhere to turn. Contractor employees are, to put it simply, disposable. Snowden HAD no other choice. What was he going to do? Report to his employers that the agency was performing the very work they had contracted to perform at a substantial profit? Report to the agency that it was violating constitutional rights of citizens? We've seen Clapper, no question how that would have gone. No - he reported to US, as he had to do. WE ARE the ultimate authority - not the agency, not the contractor it hired. Not even Obama, when it comes down to it.

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