Disturbingly, the Obama administration has criminally prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act then all other past administrations combined. The tactic of criminalizing the messenger is timeless, however.
For decades, truth-tellers have risked not only their careers but their reputations and freedom to disclose abuses of power that betray the public trust. Thanks to whistleblowers, we know the extent of the NSA's domestic spying (read the GAP statement here). A front-page story in USA Today from earlier this week details how multiple GAP clients/NSA whistleblowers tried to blow the whistle on wrongdoing for years, only to be retaliated against themselves. Now more than ever, whistleblowers need your support, and we need theirs.
The point of whistleblower laws such as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act is to encourage employees to report waste, fraud, abuse and substantial threats to public health and safety. Unfortunately, as seen in the recent documentary "War on Whistleblowers" by Brave New Foundation, criminal prosecutions create a far greater chilling effect than merely demoting or firing a whistleblower.
Whistleblowers who change the course of history are frequently criminalized in the process, even when they act lawfully and only disclose unclassified information. Whistleblowers should be rewarded – not faced with jail time – for alerting the public to threats.
Congress must respond to the disturbing abuse of power by the Obama administration. Otherwise, it is the public that loses. Please tell your elected leaders to ban the criminalization of whistleblowers!
Shanna Devine is Legislative Campaign Coordinator & Investigator for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.