Compare the following scenarios:
- Whistleblower A uncovers wrongdoing within an intelligence community agency that implicates classified information.
- He tries to go to the Inspector General but is deterred upon finding out it’s essentially a trap.
- He tries to go to Congress but is unsure how to do so without blowing his cover.
- Unaware of any other options, he goes to the media, believing they can protect his identity.
- He may or may not reveal any classified information, but some other violation (holding onto classified documents outside approved channels?) trips him up.
- Coverage by the media results in internal investigations. He gets outed and threatened with legal action.
- Lawyers at public interest groups swarm to him upon finding out he’s under threat of prosecution for blowing the whistle on state conduct.
- Justice Department prosecution follows, maybe it succeeds, maybe it doesn’t.
- Public interest lawyers use this opportunity to promote self in the media, use his case to raise funds with corporate-funded foundations, and offer platitudes about government tyranny while offering no advice to other whistleblowers who seek to avoid the same fate.
- Future whistleblowers either clam up or encounter a similar fate.
- Whistleblower B comes across evidence of wrongdoing by intelligence community agency.
- Knowing that an agency exists to accept classified disclosures of wrongdoing in a confidential manner, Whistleblower B goes to the Office of Special Counsel.
- OSC refers disclosure directly to the intelligence committees in Congress and to the National Security Advisor.
- Congress becomes aware of gross violations of civil liberties.
- Whistleblower B comes under scrutiny in his agency, but since he broke no law, no prosecution follows.
- Whistleblower B does come under some form of administrative retaliation, but only then does he go to the media with allegations of retaliation, without disclosing classified information.
- He recounts the history of having gone to OSC and Congress.
- OSC expresses concerns about the retaliation but admits it cannot protect this individual.
- Congress also expresses concerns and flexes its power to pressure the president to put a stop to the retaliation.
- Media coverage alternates between what the disclosures might be (and making sure they’re taken seriously by Congress, whatever they are, which leads to FOIAs, lawsuits, and legislative hearings), and taking a look at the lack of protections for national security whistleblowers.
- Legislation to protect national security whistleblowers follows.
Now which scenario do you think applies today?