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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

MacLean, Serpico Outline Need for S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

Dylan Blaylock, December 15, 2010

The media support keeps coming for S. 372, Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). The Orange County Register just put out a story outlining how GAP client and former Federal Air Marshal Robert MacLean would have benefitted from the protections outlined in S. 372.

To remind, in 2003 MacLean revealed a cost-cutting plan to cancel FAM coverage from long distance flights on the eve of a confirmed al-Qaeda suicidal hijacking plan. The plan never went into effect after Congress protested – based solely on his whistleblowing disclosure. Three years later, however, TSA fired him with a single charge of “Unauthorized Disclosure of Sensitive Security Information” (SSI) - an unclassified “hybrid secrecy” label the TSA retroactively applied to the information that he disclosed.

MacLean’s case is ongoing. But it should be noted that the attempted 2009 Christmas bombing by an Al-Qaeda agent is the exact same type of flight the MacLean blew the whistle on – a flight that did not have a FAM on it. Weeks after the attack, an anonymous TSA official shared with the media that FAMs were not on the NW253 because of “budget issues.”

This article points out the benefits of the WPEA, which the overwhelming majority of relevant good government groups and whistleblowers support. From the OCR:

After more than a decade of frustrations, a new whistle-blower protection law is tantalizingly close to passage in Washington, D.C. – one which would be a game-changer:

  • It would grant people like MacLean access to regular courts, where their actions could be judged by juries of their peers, rather than by panels of insiders and bureaucrats;
  • It would protect scientists from government censorship;
  • It would go far toward helping people like MacLean get their jobs back;
  • And do a whole lot of other stuff.

The article rightfully also mentions that MacLean teamed up with Frank Serpico and numerous other high-profile whistleblowers to write a letter urging the House to S. 372. OCR continues:

The urgency now is political: The new, more conservative Congress arriving after the new year is not expected to look kindly on new whistle-blower protections. So there’s an urgent push to have the House adopt the Senate version, so the thing can be signed into law.

The new act would save taxpayers money, increase transparency and better protect those who are trying to protect the public, supporters argue.

“After a 12 year political gauntlet, this is almost a miracle,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project (and MacLean’s attorney). “This will leave whistle-blowers with far stronger rights than ever before in history. It’s not an A-plus, but you don’t get A-pluses in Washington, D.C.”

Devine (my coworker) is absolutely correct. This is a big net win for whistleblowers. The WPEA should be passed immediately. If you'd like to urge your House member to pass S. 372, click here!
 

Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.