NSWBC to Testify Before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee
The Hearing on Meaningful Legislation to Protect Whistleblowers

WHAT: The House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform will hold a hearing on the need for meaningful & enforceable protection for government whistleblowers.

Where: The House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. (Room Number: TBD)

When: 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BACKGROUND: The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), together with partner whistleblowers coalitions and supporting organizations, welcome the efforts and initiations taken up by the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform under the leadership of Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) to bring to light the ineffective and failed existing protections for government whistleblowers.

Recently, NSWBC led an action campaign to urge the new congress to put in place comprehensive, meaningful, and enforceable legislation to protect whistleblowers and enable congressional oversight and accountability (To read the petition signed by hundreds of whistleblower members and supporting organizations Click Here).

The petition specifically urged the congress to provide the following provisions in any whistleblower protection legislation; the proposed legislation should:
  • Provide a cause of action for recovery of monetary damages for all employees, including those in intelligence and law enforcement agencies, federal contractors or subcontractors, and corporate employees who are retaliated against for reporting national security concerns, threats to public health and safety, or fraud, waste, mismanagement or violations of law to their employer, the Government Accountability Office, or Congress.
  • Provide the right of jury trial for government whistleblowers, and appeals from whistleblower decisions in cases at law should be all courts review rather than being limited to the Federal circuit.
  • Limit the effect in civil cases of the State Secrets Privilege, dubious classification of potential evidence, and any other privilege that prevents the discovery or use of evidence. If the government asserts the State Secrets Privilege, then the factual matters at issue covered by the privilege should be resolved in favor of the whistleblower. If the government asserts the privilege as the basis to dismiss a case, then judgment should be made for the plaintiff.
  • Criminalize acts that knowingly initiate, further, facilitate, or cause to be carried out reprisal against employees seeking to report violations of law or for contacting or attempting to contact members of Congress.
  • Guarantee the right of all employees to report, without fear of criminal prosecution or loss of security clearance, violations of law, policies that endanger national security, waste, fraud, and abuse to members of Congress.
The coalition also requested a series of congressional hearings designed to supply an integrative and comprehensive picture of retaliation against whistleblowers, the damage done to national security by allowing such retaliation to take place, the cost to taxpayers for ineffective restraints on the treatment of whistleblowers, the chilling effects of retaliation on other employees who might otherwise have been emboldened to come forward, and the costs to Congress' duty of oversight for not having yet enacted comprehensive protection for whistleblowers.

Sibel Edmonds, the Founder & Director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition states: As it stands now, a government employee has to choose between career and conscience when confronted with agency wrongdoing. We need to adopt protections for employees that allow them to be secure in their jobs and encourage them to report waste, fraud, and abuse of power. Many lives, our national security, and the health of our democracy, may hinge on whether or not Congress is brave enough to provide meaningful and effective protection for national security whistleblowers. After three decades of half-hearted attempts to provide general protection to whistleblowers it is time to do the job right. Existing "protections" are more dangerous than no protections at all, since they often beguile people into believing that they will be safe if they report illegal activity, fraud, abuse, and dangerous policies. And national security whistleblowers are excluded from even this illusory protection. The "system of protection" is a catastrophic failure.

About National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), founded in August 2004, is an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nation's security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation's borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct. The NSWBC is dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods, including advocacy of governmental and legal reform, educating the public concerning whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations to affect goals defined in the NSWBC mission statement. www.nswbc.org