Whistleblower Reports Integral to Accountability

Whistleblower Reports Integral to Accountability

Whistleblower Reports Integral to Accountability

I want to get something out of the way at once: the following post has little to do with the whistleblower who filed a report against President Trump. It has nothing to do with Democrats, Republicans, Adam Schiff, or any other garbage we have seen going during the past month or so.

What I am writing about is the effort to expose the person who filed the whistleblower complaint – even by the most “libertarian” on Capitol Hill, and the negative consequences these efforts could have on government transparency and accountability.

President Donald Trump “has great courage” and “faces down the fake media every day,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) on Monday. At a Trump 2020 rally in Lexington, Kentucky, Paul called upon media to out the whistleblower who first raised objections about Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Paul also asked colleagues in Congress to make both the whistleblower and Joe Biden’s son Hunter testify.

“We also now know the name of the whistleblower,” said Paul. “I say tonight to the media, ‘Do your job and print his name!’ And I say this to my fellow colleagues in Congress, to every Republican in Washington, ‘Step up and subpoena Hunter Biden and subpoena the whistleblower!'”

Rand Paul used to be a great proponent of government accountability, and was dedicated to defending those who report wrongdoing from retribution. But while traitorous piece of garbage Edward Snowden (who, instead of addressing his perception of wrongdoing on the part of the US Government to his chain of command, ran abroad and exposed our most sensitive collection methods to the media and to our adversaries), somehow inspired Paul to work to ensure that even government contractors were protected from retribution when they report wrongdoing, the whistleblower who apparently followed every legal protocol when reporting what he (and others) believed to have been wrongdoing on the part of the President in the Ukraine flap, in Rand Paul’s mind, apparently warrants exposure in the media and retribution.

What the hell happened to Rand Paul? Why is he actively calling for retaliation for political gain?

For the record, it’s not the media’s job to expose innocent people to threats, intimidation, or worse, jackass.

Whether or not you believe that the whistleblower’s complaint had merit is completely irrelevant here. Acting DNI Joe Maguire – a Trump appointee – confirmed that the whistleblower followed proper protocols when filing his report. “I believe the whistle-blower is operating in good faith,” he stated in his testimony, adding that the whistleblower “has followed the law.”

It is up to the whistleblower to report what they believe to be wrongdoing. It’s up to the government to examine those claims and determine their credibility. The public sector whistleblower must only reasonably believe that the disclosed information showed a violation of law, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public safety or health.

315th airlift wing; AF.mil

And the government must react. In the military, senior officers who fail to act on information provided to them regarding crime or incompetence are subject to permanent reduction in rank or court-martial. Civilians who occupy senior pay grades have similar requirements and restrictions. Federal employees in the intelligence community are more limited than others by national security concerns and have signed non-disclosure agreements to limit exposure, but I have not seen anything that indicates the whistleblower in this case exposed classified information to anyone but the people who had the need to know and who had a duty to investigate the allegations.

Would the Office of the Inspector General have found wrongdoing? I have no idea. From everything I’ve read about the Trump-Ukraine case, there is nothing impeachable in his conduct. Icky? Yes, because of the appearance of impropriety. Impeachable? No.

But that does not and should not matter. The substance of the complaint does not determine whether or not the whistleblower warrants protection against retaliation, as long as the whistleblower acted in good faith, which in this case it appears he or she did.

But some of the erstwhile defenders of government accountability have now become proponents of retaliation against government employees who, in good faith, report what they believe to be wrongdoing!

President Trump himself just last year demanded increased whistleblower protections for UN employees who come forward to report wrongdoing at the organization.

On September 18, President Trump explicitly demanded that the United Nations adopt and enforce effective whistleblower protections as part of a reform package at the Organization. On September 19, he implicitly reiterated this demand. He specifically asserted that the US will exact from the United Nations a commitment to the outcomes of UN programs, and argued that the United States is not interested in bureaucratic foot-dragging and process.

So why is it that he and his supporters are now demanding that the name of the whistleblower be exposed in the media, which will most assuredly cost the person their livelihood, possibly their family, and definitely their reputation?

The ability to report government wrongdoing is integral to the accountability and transparency we all demand from our elected officials. Scum like Chelsea (formerlyBradley) Manning, Reality Winner, and Edward Snowden cannot and should not be considered whistleblowers. They leaked classified information to the media – and in Manning’s case, a slimy organization dedicated to perverting government accountability into a looking glass for the nosy, compromising national security in favor of a non-compromising “right to know” – without going through their chain of command, without reporting what they believed to have been wrongdoing, and leaking classified information they legally promised to protect to media organizations.

The major difference between protected whistle-blowing activity and leaking is that a whistleblower reports the information to federal officials designated by statute to receive it, whereas a leaker reports the information to someone who is not authorized to receive it (i.e. the media or an uncleared individual). Designated federal officials generally include the individual’s supervisor, agency head, Office of Inspector General, Office of Special Counsel, and Congress.

Many have wondered why – if the whistleblower believes something untoward has gone on – will he or she not step forward. The reasons are easy to suss out. When you have the President calling you “almost a spy,” essentially accusing you of treason – a crime punishable by death – would you come forward? When you have a sitting senator calling on the media to disclose your identity, and bringing the wrath of imbeciles down upon your head, as well as exposing you to possible retaliation and your family to threats, would you feel comfortable coming forward?

Regardless of whether or not this whistleblower complaint is found to be credible, the person who filed it deserves the most stringent protections. Exposing this officer’s identity will make others who would report government wrongdoing less willing to come forward. It will show that our government only pays lip service to accountability. It will make others, whose complaints may be credible, from holding their employer – the federal government – accountable.

And given the amount of corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse that exists in the federal bureaucracy, this is the last thing we want.

 

Featured image: Kate Ter Haar on Flickr; cropped and resized; Some rights reserved

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

18 Comments
  • Scott says:

    Honest question Marta, hasn’t it come out that the whistleblower actually worked with Schiff to prepare the complaint, as well as his Lawfare lawyers, which Schiff then sat on until a politically opportune moment to announce? And if so, is that proper channels? (As i said honest, question, I don’t know the answer).

    Outside these questions, if as you say, the whistleblower did follow proper procedures, then regardless of any partisan motives (though those should be looked into somehow, while protecting anonymity, because if they, not actual concern about wrongdoing were the motive, that would negate the concept of a whistleblower), then i’d agree completely, the calls to expose them are improper and they deserve all the protection that can be afforded them.

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      Scott, honestly, I have no idea. I heard he discussed something about the complaint with a Schiff staffer, but I know of no regulation that prohibits such contact. Now, if impropriety can be proven on the part of the staffer, or if Schiff’s office somehow directed this guy/woman to file the complaint, that’s a problem, and I think it should be investigated. BUT… it should be done without exposing this person to the crazies, who will undoubtedly threaten him and his family, etc.

      Maguire confirmed that proper channels and procedures were followed. The reason for his delay in forwarding the complaint to Congress was that he had to check with legal to ensure that the stuff in the complaint wasn’t protected by executive privilege, which was smart of him.

      But yeah… I’m concerned what this will mean for others who may not want to come forward if there’s a corrupt Democrat (but I repeat myself) in office. 😉

  • David says:

    Marta,
    I am all for protecting whistleblowers who work within the law. However, the current case has made a mockery of those rules. The report was taken outside the chain of command, resulted from illegally shared classified material (there is no ‘second-hand’ – either you have access or you do not. Possession without access is illegal, no matter the intent). When he went to Schiff, he no longer is a ‘whistleblower’. He’s a criminal violating classified information laws (simple term – spy). As an officer, he’s subject to EO 12333 – which means disseminating information involving a US person is illegal and punishable by court-marshal. He could have passed it up in channels for review, but the second he left that channel he forfeited any right to protection under the law. PERIOD.

    So yes, I want him exposed and put in jail. I want would-be kingmakers put away. Whistleblowing is a serious action – as is defying an order (even an illegal one, which I have done with a lot of pushback). There is no ‘chilling’ of whistle-blowers in this case. There is, however, a chance to apply the law as written.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for the application of this to the former Secretary of State and her coterie. The whistle-blowers in that case were pilloried and fired – and they actually followed the rules. So maybe it is time for a different path.

    SFC (ret) Dave

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      Hi, Dave –

      I do not see anything indicating that he shared classified outside of channels that were appropriate. The DNI confirmed that the whistleblower followed the regulations. That said, IF it is shown that he/she/it/whatever did something illegal, handle it within the confines of the law and through legal channels. Exposing them in the media will do nothing but invite retribution. And what if this person’s complaint was actually legal and by the book? There’s nothing in the regulations or in 12333 that says contact with members of Congress before filing an official complaint is illegal in any way. Per the DNI, this person DID pass it up the chain for review – legitimately and within the confines of the law, so no.

      Exposing them in the media is nothing but retribution, and THAT is abhorrent and will cause thousands of legitimate whistleblowers to reconsider filing legitimate complaints.

  • GWB says:

    As to the question whether this guy should be exposed….
    I’m torn. He deserves to be, imo, because he has abused the system for naked political purposes.
    But, the media – despite the abuse and politicization of the system – will make it look like political retribution for “whistleblowing” and will help break down the system in doing so. That’s a bad thing. (Though, you could argue we are past the point of salvaging our ‘system’, rendering that issue moot.)

    Now, as to your constant invocation of “wrongdoing”….
    dedicated to defending those who report wrongdoing from retribution
    Well, he was NOT reporting wrongdoing.
    the whistleblower who apparently followed every legal protocol when reporting what he (and others) believed to have been wrongdoing
    No, he might not have followed the legal protocols. He went to Schiff outside the loop, it seems. THEN he wrote it up as a more legally correct (and very lawyerly) complaint.
    reasonably believe
    See, that’s where I throw the flag.
    Icky? Yes,
    Sorry, no.
    in good faith
    *TWEET* Citing facts not in evidence. 15 yard penalty and loss of down.
    which will most assuredly cost the person … their reputation?
    Sorry, but he did that to himself.

    As to the propriety of his going to Schiff (or his staffer): The whistleblower protections are intended to keep the complaint within the jurisdiction of the agency precisely to avoid the running to a congresscritter bit – because the congresscritters are NOT the best people to handle any complaints (they have a significant tendency to politicize the complaint). This guy ABUSED the system in order to achieve a political end. (How do I know it’s abuse? Because nothing complained about is illegal or improper according to regulation or law or ethics or an abuse of power. And those are the only valid reasons for a whistleblower complaint. PERIOD. You keep saying “what they believed to be wrongdoing”, but none of it was wrongdoing*, and unless they are idiots, they damn well knew that.)

    Sorry, Marta, but I don’t see this guy as doing ANY ACTUAL WHISTLEBLOWING. He is an anti-Trumper who thought he could plant one on Trump “for the good of the country” (or whatever he tells himself so he can sleep at night), and abused the system to make it happen.

    If this guy had simply been wrong about a point of law or ethics, I could see pressing on and simply leaving him in anonymity. “I know you thought he was accepting a $5o0 gift from the foreign gov’t, but that statue has been logged in as a US gov’t possession, and doesn’t belong to him, so your complaint is not correct. Get back to work. But no worries about the filing. You’re all good.” That’s not what happened here.

    (* Look, chief law enforcement officer asking someone to help in an investigation of possible election wrongdoing? Fully within his constitutional purview.
    Head of the branch that sets foreign policy talking to a foreign gov’t? Fully within his constitutional purview.
    Investigating a political opponent? Bullhockey – he’s not Trump’s political opponent yet, and that’s a terribly bogus ‘principle’ anyway.
    “Quid pro quo”? That’s exactly what politics IS – particularly in foreign affairs. “Hey, foreign gov’t, do this for us, and we’ll do this for you.”
    “Quid pro quo” in the typical bribery sense? WTH did Trump get out of it? Diddley and Squat. Not even hinted at (except by the Democrat-operatives-with-bylines media).
    Any person thinking there was ‘wrongdoing’ going on in this phone call should not be anywhere near the White House, except as a tourist. And they certainly shouldn’t be anywhere within the upper levels of our intelligence apparatus, as they’re liars or too ignorant to supervise ‘intelligence’ work.)

    /rant

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      because he has abused the system for naked political purposes.

      Unless you are somehow in his brain, you cannot say this with any kind of certainty. Sorry!

      Well, he was NOT reporting wrongdoing.

      The OIG and the DNI tend to differ with your assessment, and sorry, but I trust their word more. Whether the complaint is found to have merit or not, the person does seem to have been acting in good faith.

      As to the propriety of his going to Schiff (or his staffer): The whistleblower protections are intended to keep the complaint within the jurisdiction of the agency precisely to avoid the running to a congresscritter bit – because the congresscritters are NOT the best people to handle any complaints (they have a significant tendency to politicize the complaint). This guy ABUSED the system in order to achieve a political end. (How do I know it’s abuse? Because nothing complained about is illegal or improper according to regulation or law or ethics or an abuse of power.

      I have seen nothing that says that the whistleblower cannot engage with Congressional staffs. It looks hinky, but the DNI claims it was above board, so… again, I trust his word, especially since he’s not a nevertrumper. And by the way, since we don’t know who this person was, your claim that somehow they are a nevertrumper is your conjecture only. Fact is you do not know – and neither do I – what this person’s political views were. What we DO know is that Maguire said the complaint went through the proper channels and that OIG said the complaint had merit. Anything claiming to know this person’s state of mind or political views is not in evidence. There’s your tweet.

      If the guy is shown to have acted in bad faith, I fully support punishing him to the full extent of THE LAW. Outing him based on nothing but conjecture about his motives, when the Trump-appointed DNI specifically said the person followed the regulations when filing this complaint is nothing but garbage political retribution.

      And as I said in the post, I am not going to engage in a back and forth about the merits of the complaint, since I don’t actually know what the facts are. And I refuse to engage in whataboutism or bend over backwards to defend Trump here, because a) there’s nothing to defend and b) that’s outside the scope of this post.

      /rant

      • GWB says:

        Unless you are somehow in his brain, you cannot say this with any kind of certainty.
        Sorry, but I’m certain this is a BS argument. (Mens rea is established all the time based on evidence.)

        the person does seem to have been acting in good faith
        This is where we part ways, primarily. I’ve read his complaint (at least the letter) and it reads like a Democrat talking paper. It’s hearsay. It’s incredibly lawyerly. It certainly doesn’t read to me as if he was “acting in good faith” though he does a great job of spin to aim for that.

        I trust his word
        And there’s the other half of the problem. I have a great deal of difficulty trusting ANY of them at this point. The whole thing stinks more than the recycling plant upwind.

        Just as an FYI, someone who follows the rules meticulously can most certainly still ABUSE the process to which those rules apply. And I think that’s exactly what the “whistleblower” did. (Note, he rewrote the complaint after it was rejected, and it ended up much more lawyerly, following exactly those jots and tittles.)

        As to defending Trump, I didn’t really. But I *did* state what the obvious facts are and they show that someone who actually had “good faith” reported this must be an ignoramus as to the duties and responsibilities of the office of the president to believe such things are an abuse of presidential power. Or, you know, he was acting in a purely partisan fashion.

        If this guy did abuse the system in an attempt to stick a fork in Trump, then he put himself into the political realm and he shouldn’t have ANY expectation of privacy. Sorry, but if he played politics, he’s fair game for the coliseum sands.
        (And I’m still torn as to whether outing him and playing into the Democrat-media-industrial complex’s hands is a good idea. But it’s not an immoral one.)

        • I would also note that the OIG is NOT believable in the least. The complaint was rejected the first time because it was hearsay. THEN the OIG changed the rules to allow hearsay – and it was submitted again (with the revisions you note, GWB).

          In the case of that person, we DO know the name. MICHAEL ATKINSON. Whose own contacts and activities during the past year should be gone over with a fine tooth comb.

      • GWB says:

        Forgot this:
        I have seen nothing that says that the whistleblower cannot engage with Congressional staffs.
        I didn’t say he couldn’t but that the process was supposed to stop the running to a politician to solve problems – because that method led to a lot of political bullpuckey. And that makes it smell of political hi-jinks.

    • David says:

      Sorry, Marta. The regulations for military personnel under EO12333 are explicit (note, this is based on the indications that the LTC was the conduit). The House Intel Oversight committee is not part of the reporting chain. Actually, neither is the DNI. The chain for a military member goes through Ft. Meade and INSCOM, not any civilian agency. That means the report goes to the CIC before it can go anywhere else in government.
      Different rules for military personnel, even when they’re seconded to CIA/NSA. But the key is also the ‘second hand’ report. Again, there is no such thing as a second-hand report: either you are in the compartment (‘read-on’ in the vernacular) and have first-hand knowledge, or you are not and therefore have illegally received classified material. Receipt and transmission are crimes with simple liability – that is, the answer is yes or no, with no regard for intent.
      The Intelligence Oversight committee has no part in the whistle-blower process. The IG does. When Schiff got involved, this became illegal – he is required to request information through the IG or the executive branch or provide a subpoena, with proper justification under the classification rules for ‘need to know’.
      Since the phone conversation was diplomacy, it should have gone through the State Department; transfer of the call to the CIA is a violation of EO12333 (US Persons, retention and dissemination) and US Code. The FBI might claim some right as part of the law enforcement community under some nuances of the law, but CIA is right out forbidden to operate in this manner – doubly so for the military individual seconded to them (he’s in violation of not only EO 12333, but also the Posse Commitatus Act since he is involved in an action against US persons inside the US).
      /rant over
      Sorry if I am long winded, but this guy is not a whistle blower and his actions endanger them by politicizing the process. No matter how you cut it, by going to a political nut like Schiff, he has destroyed the basis for trust in the non-political separation for this process. People didn’t trust the intel community before – and this kind of stuff makes it worse.
      SFC (ret) Dave

      • Marta Hernandez says:

        Dave, there was no compartmented information involved here. Not a single gammasub. Most of the conversations between POTUS and other government leaders are at about the S//NF level. What makes you think this person was military? I haven’t seen anything to indicate this.

        Also, you’re missing the point of the process. The ICWPA specifies that information is reported to Congress.

        Under the ICWPA, an intelligence employee or contractor who intends to report to Congress a complaint or information of “urgent concern” involving an intelligence activity may report the complaint or information to their agency’s inspector general or the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG). Within a 14-day period, the IG must determine “whether the complaint or information appears credible,” and upon finding the information to be credible, thereafter transfer the information to the head of the agency. The law then requires the DNI (or the relevant agency head) to forward the complaint to the congressional intelligence committees, along with any comments he wishes to make about the complaint, within seven days. If the IG does not deem the complaint or information to be credible or does not transmit the information to the head of the agency, the employee may provide the information directly to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. However, the employee must first inform the IG of his or her intention to contact the intelligence committees directly and must follow the procedures specified in the Act.

        It says nothing about engaging with a congressional staffer beforehand. Maybe I’m missing something. Not sure. That said, it looks like the protocol was followed properly. If it wasn’t, I would think there would be legal repercussions, but for now this person is protected under the ICWPA.

        Regards
        Marta

  • Ryan Murphy says:

    It only fit the statutes, Marta, because they changed them to allow second hand suspiciously just in time for this. You don’t find that the least bit funny?

  • GWB says:

    I will say that I unequivocally agree with the title of this post.
    It’s why the politicization of it by the whistleblower and his enablers is so awful.

  • Mike-in-Keller says:

    Had the IC Whistleblower blown the whistle within the agency, he would have a right to anonymity. He gave up that right when he leaked his fake whistle-blowing outside the agency.

  • James Raclawski says:

    Apples/Oranges … here I’m thinking…. there will be no detrimental impact to legitimate abuse reporting via established “whistle blower” programs because this was a bastardization of a process… a corruption of resources and an illegitimate use of the program in an effort to “weaponize” it…. to subvert its purpose … to manipulate it into being a means to an end.

    The “faux whistle blower” has, therfore, placed themselves in the position of arbitrator of the constitutional authority vested in the President to plan, develope, and implement foreign policy. WE – the people – through our elected muckety-mucks …. need to establish background… interpersonal relationships with HPSCI members or staff… any prior elements that might shed light on veracity… motivation… influence by/coordination with third parties…
    As the “WB” was so distraught over 2nd.. 3rd hand info…. giving sworn testimony in answering the basic interrogatives should suffice….. to do that in public is required…

  • GWB says:

    BTW, the latest news is likely exactly why they used the “whistleblower” system to commit this leak: they can now claim sending someone back to their regular job (and out of the White House job) is RETALIATION.

    Because, you see, regular people don’t mind punishing “leakers”. But, yeah, they think “whistleblowers” should be protected. So, now watch for a media campaign to proclaim this is why they need to protect the whistleblower – because otherwise he’ll suffer like LtCol Vindman is, being sent back to the Army.

    They’re abusing this system like Michael Moore at an all-you-can-eat.

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