In The End, Secret Hold On Whistleblower Protection Narrowed Down To Two Senators

from the who-will-blow-the-final-whistle dept

Back in January, we noted the somewhat ironic fact that a US Senator had put a "secret hold" on a bill to protect government whistleblowers. We wondered if someone would blow the whistle and out that Senator. Thankfully, the folks from On the Media stepped up, and set up a project to find out who put that secret hold on the bill. Last we had checked in, they had narrowed it down to three possible Senators: Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions and James Risch. Since then, Risch said he didn't put the hold on, leaving just Kyl and Sessions refusing to speak. Now that it's been narrowed down to just two, On the Media has decided to end the project, but is happy about the results. The campaign served to raise two key issues:
The Government Accountability Project has let us know that this project has had the two-pronged effect in the Senate of making Senators more hesitant to use the secret hold, and bringing new attention to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which is expected to be reintroduced in the Senate shortly.
This is good news. While there actually are some serious problems with the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act as it was written last time around, that's still no excuse for anyone to put a "secret" hold on it. If Senators are going to block a bill, they should be willing to at least come out and admit that it was them, let alone explain their reasons for doing so.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 6:44am

    It is pretty galling that despite the fact that the whole point of representative democracy is to create a leadership accountable to its citizens, that parliamentary procedures were created to actively prevent that accountability from occurring.

    Kudos to On the Media for making an effort to create that accountability despite the best efforts of our representatives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Schmoo, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    What? Why the flying fuck would they stop now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    cc (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:24am

    It's very likely it could be both of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    God's forbid a whistleblower actually come up with evidence about security issues on nuclear power plants that could be the next Fukushima in U.S. soil.

    Those traitors need to be stopped LoL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    jared, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    error in logic

    problem with the above statement is that they trusted jim Risch statement ...
    living in idaho i wouldn't

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Secret hold website?, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Part of the reason so many senators spilled on this is that there was a website detailing the senators who said they didn't post the secret hold. It was easy to tell if they were forthcoming in the release of this information. The senators decided it looked bad not to be forthcoming to their constituents.

    This should happen for every secret hold. One website that collects this data should be up. I would suspect senators would start populating the list themselves.

    Secret holds should be embarrassing. If a senator wants to place a hold he should be willing to own it and claim it.

    Right now these last three hold outs (Risch got eliminated by logic not his words) should be held culpable for the hold and feel the pain of failing to come forth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Sean T Henry (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    It could easily be both I remember seeing somewhere that after it is placed on hold for so long the senator who has placed the hold has there name released. So what they do is tag team the hold one starts it then drops it before the name is released and the other senator places a hold then lather, rinse and repeat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    sumquy (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    this kind of attempt at holding senators responsible for their actions is completely irresponsible. if senators and congressmen aren't allowed to place anonymous holds on legislation they have been payed to block, then the system of pay to play collapses and result in trillions of dollars in losses, and over a billion americans out of work. it's not an ideal system, but that doesn't mean we should be looking to do away with it.
    the government needs to be able to propose and block legislation without fear that someone is going to trace the money back to a campaign contributor, or else it creates a climate of uncertainty in which business is unable to invest in new research for fear another company will come along and put out a better product of service. if xyz corp. has to compete in an unregulated market then the hard working men and women of xyz won't be able to feed their children and these same children will end up as teenage prostitutes. i find it very disturbing to discover techdirt supporting child pornography.
    these men and women deserve to get paid for their efforts, and secret holds like this one, and secret treaties like acta are the only way to do that. it's all about stopping terrorism, mike, and frankly i am disgusted by the tone of this and other articles i have read here because it is obvious you just don't get that. they want to kill you, mike. that is all they want: to kill you because they hate your freedoms and good jobs and toyota highlanders. i am starting to think that the feds need to come in and shut techdirt down. freedom of speech has limits. when you put real men and women in harms way you should lose your right to spread fud and disinformation. maybe a probationary rights system, where you are only allowed to confirm official government actions and statements is the answer here. let me think about that and get back to you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    OC, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    Why these two?

    The list is narrowed down to two names on the assumption that everyone else is telling the truth. Since we're talking about pro politicians that's a pretty big assumption. What if the third of fourth from the bottom of the list said No knowing that there are two who will never say either Yes or No?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    MrWilson, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 8:31am

    Why should they have to answer to us? It's not like they work for us...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Dan (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Why isn't it used elsewhere?

    I'm beginning to wonder why the secret hold isn't being used elsewhere if it's so easy to do. I mean there's a lot of issues the two parties are diametrically opposed. Why not just halt any bill on those issues? There's got to be more to this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous American, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 8:54am

    Re: Why isn't it used elsewhere?

    Secret holds (IIRC) are used extensively against candidates for presidential appointment to delay or force them to back away from the post to which they're being asked to work.
    It's pure cowardice on the part of the senator doing it, regardless of party affiliation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Qritiqal (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 9:22am


    Look at it this way, we can assume BOTH senators are guilty and vote them BOTH out of office. If one of them likes his office, perhaps he'll come clean before the election.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Qritiqal (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 9:25am


    Update, according to Wikipedia Jon Kyl will not be seeking re-election, so let's just assume that it was Jeff Sessions.

    Sad note: both Senators are Republican.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Wiggs (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 10:07am


    If it weren't for the LOL sticker on this post, I would have made a comment about Poe's Law...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Ed (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 10:42am


    Two of the most shady, despicable Senators in Congress placing a secret hold on a bill designed to protect whistleblowers? People are surprised at this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    sumquy (profile), Apr 4th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    parody troll is parodyish

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    TheStupidOne, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    From Senator Feinstein

    Part of an email response to my questions about the bill in question:

    "Be assured that I did not place a hold on S. 372. I believe that people who come forward to expose crime and corruption should be protected from retaliation. You may be interested to know, on January 27, 2011 the Senate also passed S.Res. 28, a new rule requiring any Senator objecting to proceeding to a bill or nomination to publicly disclose the objection within two days of the Senate being in session."


    It appears that secret holds are no more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    MAC, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:45pm


    "Those who are willing to trade Freedom for security deserve neither." Benjamin Franklin

    I guess we know which camp you'r in...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    MAC, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Re: From Senator Feinstein

    I don't always agree with you but 'Bravo'!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: From Senator Feinstein

    And you believe that. So cute.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    velox (profile), Apr 5th, 2011 @ 10:15pm

    Re: From Senator Feinstein

    -->Notice who headlines this Senate RES. 28 which establishes a rule against secret holds:--- Why its our friend Senator Wyden.
    Gee, I wonder where AJ and "Anonymous" have been. Shouldn't they have been out accusing Senator Wyden of 'grandstanding' again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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