Seeking To Root Out Leakers, The Intelligence Community Is Destroying Official Routes For Whistleblowers

from the ensuring-there's-only-one-way-out dept

The Trump Administration is continuing its war on leakers. It's probably meant to keep whistleblowers at bay as well. This isn't necessarily a trait unique to Trump's White House. There really hasn't been a whistleblower-friendly administration in pretty much ever, but this particular administration has been awash in leaked documents, each one prompting more severe crackdowns.

But it's going to come to a head at the national security level. The "Intelligence Community" -- sixteen agencies participating and partaking in intelligence analysis and collection under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence -- is basically ousting its internal oversight. Jenna McLaughlin, writing for Foreign Policy, has the details.

[Dan] Meyer, whose job is to talk to intelligence community whistleblowers, can no longer talk to whistleblowers. He has been barred from communicating with whistleblowers, the main responsibility of his job as the executive director for intelligence community whistleblowing and source protection. He is currently working on an instructional pamphlet for whistleblowers, and he will have no duties to perform after he’s completed that work.

He can also no longer brief the agencies or the congressional committees on his work as he’s done in the past, send out his whistleblower newsletter, or conduct outreach. And he has no deputy or staff.

This is the end result of internal struggles and the continual sidelining of the so-called "proper channels." They weren't worth much when Snowden decided to leak. They were relatively worthless when others leaked documents years before Snowden began changing the intelligence community from the far outside. And if they were ever going to be worth anything, that effort has been derailed in favor of hunting down leakers.

This is incredibly stupid. If the administration wants to stop leaks, one of the better tools is proper channels that actually work -- ones that get results and shield whistleblowers from retaliation. Instead, intelligence officials have decided leaking and whistleblowing are pretty much the same thing and have headed off attempts to build an official whistleblowing outfit worth a damn

What's being ousted, bit by bit, is the IC's Inspector General's office. Elimination of whistleblower outlets may only be part of the plan. Once rendered toothless, it may be prevented from performing other oversight duties. But the war of leakers starts where it always starts: with whistleblowers. If the Inspector General's office is completely neutralized, the only option will be leaking, not exactly the best news for this particularly sieve-like administration.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 4:23am

    "this particular administration has been awash in leaked documents, each one prompting more severe crackdowns"

    The beatings will continue until moral improves.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 4:25am

    The timing is suspisious. As much of a pain it is to deal with "the witch-hunt" Mueller and others are performing, it seems like he is very concerned about specifically that type of information. Why else try to close that channel?

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

  • identicon
    David, 20 Oct 2017 @ 5:07am

    Good.

    This means that the "proper channels" joke is getting retired, right?

    The way to deal with an active volcano is to plug it up. Look ma, no more leaks.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 5:54am

      Re: Good.

      That might work for a while ....

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 6:20am

      Re: Good.

      The way to deal with an active volcano is to plug it up.

      Ahh, so that's what those human sacrifices into volcanoes were for. Looks like this administration is trying something similar.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 5:32am

    all this shows is that there must be a myriad of wrong-doings by government and it's agencies and how the fear of the public (who they are supposed to be representing and protecting!) finding out exactly what is going on is so real as to warrant this massive cover up and instigation of whatever methods possible to get whistle blowers and leakers locked up! and the USA fought against this in world wars! look at what it has become!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 5:56am

      Re:

      "the USA fought against this in world wars"

      Ummm - wut? Perhaps a review of history is in order

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

      • identicon
        David, 20 Oct 2017 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re:

        That was my first reaction as well. But fascism was actually more defining for the axis powers than national socialism, and fascism as the doctrine about government considerations trumping the people's interests is definitely quite related with considering as unnecessary both accountability and any manner of keeping the public informed of the government's actions.

        The U.S. did not just fight Germany in WWII. Now bringing WWI into it seems indeed like sort of a stretch as that wasn't as much a clash of doctrines.

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 20 Oct 2017 @ 5:35am

    "He is currently working on an instructional pamphlet for whistleblowers, and he will have no duties to perform after he’s completed that work"

    Not only did they take away any additional work, but the pamphlet can really only consist of a couple of recommendations:

    Option 1) Don't blow the whistle. It will probably ruin your life.

    Option 2) Take the following steps:
    - Gather your evidence
    - Immediately leave the country and seek refuge in a country that will not extradite
    - Pass your evidence to a news outlet outside of the US

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

  • icon
    JoeDetroit (profile), 20 Oct 2017 @ 6:23am

    Leaks/Whistle-blowing

    Leaks/Whistle-blowing are the same exact thing to the people in charge & has been for quite some time. Even more so for our current Administration.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Oct 2017 @ 9:36am

    Let me understand...
    If you see something bad, you are supposed to take it up the chain.
    The chain is told to crush you & discredit you, ignore & cover-up and wrong doing reported.
    Lets get rid of someone who might actually punish us for attacking people reporting on crimes we commit.

    So with this ideal system they are SHOCKED just SHOCKED that people run the risk of taking things public. The system is broken, it protects law breakers, & the entire system is on the side of hiding bad acts.

    Maybe if they stopped lying to the public and their alleged oversight we could trust them to keep their own house clean... but yeah that's not happening.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 1:47pm

    Why not get rid of the whistleblower hotline?

    All the whistleblowers were staying away from it, therefore it wasn't doing its job of identifying whistleblowers for termination.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Oct 2017 @ 3:26pm

    Brilliant!

    Take away the 'official' channels so that the handful of people that were still naive enough to think that they would accomplish anything other than painting a target on their backs by going through the 'official channels' are faced with either keeping quiet or dumping anything directly to the public.

    That'll certainly cut down on that whistle-blower problem.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2017 @ 5:32pm

    "Trump killed the Snowden star"

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 21 Oct 2017 @ 4:12am

    What is the difference between a leak and a whistleblower?

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

    • identicon
      David, 21 Oct 2017 @ 5:04am

      Re:

      I know that one! One is a myth and the other lives at the North Pole. No wait, that was between a good banjo player and Santa Claus.

      Uhm... If you blow the whistle and nobody is there to hear it, is there a sound?

      Or was it about when you open the box and can hear a whistle, the cat is a traitor?

      No, I forgot the punch line. But it was something about whistleblowers being imaginary. If they effect any change, they are traitors, and if they don't, they aren't whistleblowers but fired. Something like that. But no, they are fired either way.

      Somebody remind me?

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

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 21 Oct 2017 @ 6:58am

        Re: Re:

        > If you blow the whistle and nobody is there to hear it, is there a sound?

        If you blow the whistle and an anvil lands on your head, is there a sound?

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


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