Whistleblower Reinstated in Job in Test Case for NSA and Intelligence Community  

In a case that has been closely followed as a test for new whistleblower protections put in place by President Obama, it can now be reported that the whistleblower received restitution for his complaint, according to information provided to Just Security by a government official familiar with the case.

The whistleblower, who requested anonymity in communicating with Just Security, said that he suffered a reprisal for reporting a “lack of action in investigating possible misconduct by Senior NSA Officials with respect to a funding of a conference in Nashville, Tennessee.” The whistleblower, an Intelligence Community employee, was denied an assignment within the National Security Agency’s Inspector General’s Office of Investigations.

Thanks to a set of procedures put in place by the Presidential Directive in 2012 the whistleblower was able to file an allegation of reprisal. His complaint was initially rejected by the Department of Defense’s Inspector General. It then became the first case to be reviewed by another mechanism put in place by the Presidential Directive—an External Review Panel composed of three inspector generals, including CIA, the Justice Department, and Treasury.

In its most recent report to Congress, the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community explained that the Review Panel’s report, which has not yet been made public, “detailed that the employee was entitled to appropriate relief from the agency” but that “the recommendations were still being implemented.” For his part, the whistleblower told Just Security, that the process created by the Presidential Directive was “critical to my success personally and professionally.” Without it, he said, “an IC whistleblower does not really have a chance. This process now places some genuine oversight.”

Just Security can now report that the whistleblower has been reinstated in the NSA’s Inspector General’s Office of Investigations, according to a government official familiar with the case.

On Thursday, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid wrote about the case, focusing on procedures involving the individual accused of engaging in reprisal against the whistleblower.

[Editor’s Note: If interested in the topic of whistleblowing, read Just Security‘s coverage including Nick Schwellenbach’s “Survivor’s Guide to Being a Successful Whistleblower in the Federal Government.”] 

About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016) Follow him on Twitter @rgoodlaw.