On Tuesday afternoon the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations will hold hearings on whether national security whistleblowers have enough protection against retaliation. Among those testifying at the hearing are National Security Agency whistleblower Russell Tice and Abu Ghraib whistleblower Army Spc. Samuel Provance.
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) will convene the hearing, “National Security Whistleblowers in the Post-9/11 Era: Lost in a Labyrinth and Facing Subtle Retaliation,” at 1:00 p.m.
“Whistleblowers in critical national security positions are vulnerable to unique forms of retaliation,” Shays said. “Suspension or revocation of a security clearance can have the same chilling effect as demotion or firing, but clearance actions are virtually unreviewable. Those with whom we trust the nation’s secrets should not be second class citizens when it comes to asserting their rights to speak truth to power.”
Beth Daley, senior investigator for the Project On Government Oversight, will testify at the hearing that whistleblowers do not have sufficient protection against retaliation and see leaking to the news media as a much safer option.
“What drives these individuals to disclose classified information to the press and the public? We suspect an important reason lies in the long-term failure of the government to create effective whistleblower protection programs, particularly for national security whistleblowers,” Daley is scheduled to testify. “Congress has created few meaningful incentives for national security whistleblowers to come to Congress with evidence of illegal activities, corruption, or incompetence.”
Tice was one of several sources used for the New York Times story on the NSA terrorist surveillance program authorized by President George W. Bush, which eavesdrops on conversations of suspected terrorists and those with links to terrorists entering and exiting the U.S. Tice says he was retaliated against for reporting a potential spy when he worked in the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Spc. Provance gave several media interviews regarding abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq despite losing his rank for disobeying orders to keep quiet.
Update: POGO has more information on the hearings.
Update: Excellent liveblog of the Able Danger portions of the hearing.
Update: Government Executive has an excellent summary of the hearings.