Wednesday, February 18, 2009

obama, gates at odds over cia whistleblower protections

Washington Post | During an election featuring Democratic allegations that U.S. intelligence was distorted to justify a misbegotten war, Barack Obama endorsed new protections for national security officers who blow the whistle on abusive, corrupt or illegal behavior, by offering them the right to sue for damages and challenge denials of their security clearances.

But by keeping a Republican-appointed secretary of defense strongly opposed to those changes, President Obama is finding the path to a new policy on federal whistleblowing much more complicated.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other top Bush appointees wrote an unusually tough letter to Congress last year asserting that the bill protecting whistleblowers would threaten national security, violate the Constitution and undermine the government's ability to safeguard legitimate secrets.

The legislation, passed this year by the House, is still being reviewed by the White House, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "We understand this is an important issue, and we're committed to addressing it in a manner that is consistent with national security," said spokeswoman Wendy Morigi, declining to comment further.

The bill has evoked strong feelings on both sides because it would extend a series of rights held by most federal workers to dissident employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and other intelligence agencies. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, they cannot now appeal adverse administrative decisions outside their agencies, either to a special civil service board or to a federal court. Along with others, they also cannot win compensatory damages for improper job decisions or sue to regain their clearances.

For those on the fence about Obamamandian moral grounding, THIS is the executive decision to watch.....,