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Holding the Government Accountable
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Report

Homeland and National Security Whistleblower Protections: The Unfinished Agenda

Why does this issue matter?

National security whistleblowers are the public's eyes and ears when it comes to ensuring the government is doing its job protecting America. Currently, however, reporting wrongdoing and negligence, be it by the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI, means nearly certain retaliation by the whistleblower's employer. Stronger whistleblower protections mean a better prepared America.

Executive Summary

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, whistleblowers have felt compelled to come forward in greater numbers to address our nation's security weaknesses – in fact almost 50% more have sought protection annually.1 Since 9/11, whistleblower-support organizations have heard a common theme from whistleblowers, many of whom have observed security weaknesses for years: That they could no longer stand by knowing that people's lives were at risk.

However, patriotic truth-tellers across a variety of agencies have no protection against retaliation from the agencies they seek to reform. Today, the federal government's policies support and reinforce wrongdoers who would seek to silence whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers at key government agencies tasked with protecting the U.S. (including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Transportation Security Administration, and National Security Agency) have been excluded from the meager protections afforded the rest of the federal workforce. Employees at other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security must seek protection under the defunct Whistleblower Protection Act, a law rendered useless by a crippling series of judicial interpretations from a court with a monopoly on reviewing whistleblower cases.

The agenda for protecting homeland security whistleblowers is unfinished. Congress must act to implement laws that will provide meaningful protections for whistleblowers including reasonable standards for qualifying for protection, the right to seek remedies in the courts, prompt resolution of their cases, and an end to retaliation when it occurs.

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