To the delight of many concerned about civil liberties and government accountability, President Obama recently issued a directive expanding rights of employees in the intelligence community who report waste, fraud and abuse. These “whistleblower” protections have come into focus in light of the Julian Assange wiki-leaks scandal. There have been numerous prosecutions in recent years under the Espionage Act. Civil liberties groups expressed concern for the rights of intelligence community workers.
The directive applies to employees serving in the Intelligence Community, particularly the Central Intelligent Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, or employees who are eligible for access to classified information. It protects the rights of the aforementioned employees, mandates review procedures, and emphasizes agency accountability. Some of the key elements of the directive include:
- Prohibits retaliation of a protected disclosure by an Intelligence Community employee
- Prohibits retaliatory actions against employees’ security clearances and other personnel actions
- Requires each agency to implement a review process and consistent due process rights
- Provision of appeal rights
- Requirement of agency programs for outreach, education and counseling on new rights.
Despite the directive, a chorus of groups has called for great employee protection and more action from Congress. It is in Congress’s discretion to statutorily enact President Obama’s directive and expand the workers covered by the directive.