"The numerous watchdog groups lobbying for a package of whistle-blower protections attached to the Senate’s defense authorization bill are calling on likely House conferees to agree to the Senate provisions during imminent conference talks.
The groups, which have formed the Make it Safe Coalition, point to recent events suggesting an erosion of 1989’s landmark Whistleblower Protection Act, including the subpoena last month of former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst Russell Tice and a May Supreme Court decision that weakened the free-speech rights of government employees who are subjected to retaliation because they criticize aspects of their jobs.
Invoking the conservative bogeyman of “judicial activism” to blast federal appeals courts ruling against whistle-blower rights, Make it Safe sent talking points Friday to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), ranking Democrat Ike Skelton (Mo.) and 18 other committee members.
“Never before has it been so clear that those who make it safe for America’s families from internal and external threats need state-of-the-art whistle-blower protection to defend themselves. Unfortunately, these employees are the most vulnerable to retaliation,” wrote 36 coalition participants, who represent individuals locked in their own pending whistle-blower cases, as well as open-government and labor groups.
Make it Safe has another influential House ally in Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.), whose panel passed a strong whistle-blower-protection bill in April that Davis and ranking Democrat Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) sought to attach to pending lobbying reform legislation. The coalition asks House defense-authorization conferees to bolster the Senate’s provisions with elements of the Davis bill, including the extension of whistle-blower rights to government contractors who point to possible misuse of taxpayer funds.
“We have two conflicting movements in the House and Senate” on whistle-blower issues, Edmonds said in an interview. “On the one hand, you have [Akaka-Collins and Davis’s] bills that have received support from Republicans and Democrats. … On the other hand, you have people like Bond who are going toward the opposite direction, saying, basically, put a gag order on whistle-blowers.”
Whistleblowers fearing punishment from the government for voicing their criticism, Edmonds added, “say, ‘I’m going to leak to the press because I don’t have any appropriate channel to inform the Congress,’” a sentiment that the language in Senate’s defense authorization bill would help combat."
* Meanwhile, Sibel will be on Guy James show (Wednesday) afternoon at 3:30 pm EST. Also, same day, on Peter B. Collins Show at 7:00 pm EST with Tom Devine (GAP).