DHS Appears Willing To Violate Whistleblower Laws To Shut Down Leaks

from the STOP-LEAKING,-the-leaked-memo-stated dept

This Administration -- like the one before it -- isn't a fan of leaks or whistleblowing. This Administration seems to be leakier than most, possibly due to the Commander-in-Chief's vindictive shit-canning of anyone insufficiently deferential. When distrust abounds, the leaks will flow.

The Administration would like these leaks to stop. To accomplish this, it has tried several things -- most of them legally-questionable. During his stint at the DOJ, Jeff Sessions suggested subjecting every National Security Council staffer to a polygraph test to sniff out who had leaked transcripts of Oval Office phone calls. The State Department issued a memo warning its employees about the dangers of leaking, including the possibility of prosecution. The memo against leaks was promptly leaked. The DHS has decided to focus its attention on exterior "threats:" namely, journalists who publish leaks. The First Amendment is apparently secondary to leak stoppage.

The DHS is still struggling with leaks. And it's struggling to contain its struggles with leaks. Earlier this month, a memo demanding employees report leaks, leakers, and anything else they might think is suspicious was leaked to journalists.

Randolph D. "Tex" Alles, a senior DHS official, emailed all employees on Tuesday warning them to be careful handling “all classified, controlled unclassified, and draft information” and that unauthorized disclosures — whether deliberate or inadvertent — risked violating agency policy and potentially federal law. Alles sent the email after “sensitive but unclassified” information had been shared with “external entities.”

Reporter Ken Klippenstein also received a copy of the leaked memo. His "copy" was two screenshots apparently taken by a DHS employee.

So far, we have a leaky DHS, an attempt to plug leaks, yet another leak, and, two weeks later, claims the leaked anti-leak memo is actually illegal. Citing Klippenstein's October 13 tweet, the American Federation of Government Employees (the largest federal employee labor union) says the memo issued by DHS Under Secretary Randolph Alles violates the law.

We are writing to seek your reconsideration of a recent directive that illegally stifles guaranteed whistleblower rights of its employees. (Exhibit A) This action is a crude violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act and appropriations provisions that shield DHS employees' free speech rights and must be remedied immediately.

Exhibit A is Klippenstein's tweet. The letter also refers to Buzzfeed's reporting on the same memo from Alles.

DHS officials are apparently willing to violate the law to shut down leaks. That's why the agency's targeting of journalists wasn't shut down while it was still just a bad idea. I doubt the DHS will rescind this memo without a court order or Congressional investigation, but it's safe to say threatening to violate the law isn't going to do much to deter future leaks or whistleblowing. The DHS's problems with leaks will continue.

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Filed Under: dhs, doj, leaks, whistleblowers


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 9:52am

    Hard to air someone's dirty laundry if they don't have any

    The best part is if they really wanted to stop the leaking of damning evidence the solution is really simple: Stop doing questionable if not outright illegal stuff that people feel needs to be made public.

    If they simply stopped engaging in behavior that made any ethical people who haven't been purged from the government yet think that the public should really know what the government that is supposedly representing them is doing then the leaks would dry right up, with anything left being harmless stuff likely to make the leaker look worse than the government, but since that would require them to stop being so openly corrupt I suppose the next best thing is to keep trying to plug that dam.

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

  • identicon
    Peter, 27 Oct 2020 @ 10:15am

    Well why wouldn't they?

    Well of course they are going to use threats, intimidation and violate laws. No-one is going to be held accountable, sacked or prosecuted, so what's to stop them?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 11:08am

      Re: Well why wouldn't they?

      If found out, I believe the whistle blower would be held accountable, sacked, AND prosecuted

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 10:41am

    Why are they subverting..

    The systems already out there.
    THIS IS NOT A DHS problem.
    Let them go stand around at the airports.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 10:48am

    Wouldnt it be nice

    If the Gov. actually TALKED to the people.
    Told us what they wanted to do, and how.
    Asked our opinion.
    Listened to us(hard as hell when we all have diff opinions)

    I would love a decent questionnaire, to ASK us what we wanted. Not what Trump wants, NOT the repubs or the Demo.
    But they arnt listening.
    The know Less about this country then we do.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 10:49am

    It would be so much easier to empathize if it wasn't for the perverse about of rationalization when Hope n' Change violated whistleblower laws, and even went so far as to spy on the reporter, James Rosen, in order to catch whistleblowers.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 11:30am

      Re:

      Right, who had 'But Obama' on their card?

      Ah who am I kidding, that's the free square, everyone has that one.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 12:21pm

        Obama

        That's one of the two things I do hold against Obama - not closing Gitmo, and worse persecution of whistleblowers than even the Bush administration which preceded him.
        That said, he was leagues better than this overgrown oompa-loompa, but he was by no means perfect, no politician is, and when they fail, we need, we must, excoriate them for it - to do any less is to fail in our own civic duty.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 12:46pm

          Re: Obama

          Oh I've got no problem ripping into a politician when they screw up, or pointing out mistakes they made, but when someone's response to 'look at what the current president is doing' is 'but what about the previous one?' that gets old real quick.

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

          • icon
            ECA (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 4:32pm

            Re: Re: Obama

            I love those that complain about the president and dont get the idea of 500 others, senate and representatives.

            And yes that idea "He did it, why cant I", is the idea that YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO BETTER. esp if you are pointing at those before you.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 3:37am

          Re: Obama

          "That's one of the two things I do hold against Obama..."

          Plenty more, honestly. Obama tried to do a lot of good and talked a good game but in the balance of it he was just a typical "talk big, do little" president. With almost as many war crimes to his name as GWB.

          Ironically he fought tooth and claw for the "affordable care act" which although it may have come to be called "Obamacare" was originally a republican suggestion.
          It should have told everyone what the GOP of the day stood for when they opposed their own damn bill when that bill was launched by a Democrat president...

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Oct 2020 @ 1:47pm

      “I’d love to empathize, but Obama.”

      what the fuck

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

    • icon
      Tim Cushing (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 1:05am

      Re:

      [taps second link in post]

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 3:33am

      Re:

      "It would be so much easier to empathize if it wasn't for the perverse about of rationalization when Hope n' Change violated whistleblower laws..."

      And right on cue comes the alt-right to make the case that The second offender in the gang rape proves there's nothing really wrong to do what the first offender did.

      Here's a clue. When your only argument is it's not wrong if someone else did it first then that's proof positive the action you try to defend isn't defensible.

      After all, in the logic you people keep trying to apply, since Hitler and Staling engaged in genocide there's surely no moral barrier to repeating it.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 27 Oct 2020 @ 11:10am

    They could... stop doing un-American shit that demands to be leaked?

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 28 Oct 2020 @ 4:36pm

    I hate Pandora.

    The story has been explained in more then 1 way.
    That She released everything in the box Except 'Hope'.
    But did she get rid of all the Other crap to GO away, or to FIll the world with all the crap we dont want.
    Either hope is locked up and we cant get it,
    Or its the only thing we got left.

    Im tired of believing HOPE, is all we got. Think its time to Show those responsible that it ISNT enough.

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


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