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National Security & Human Rights
The National Security & Human Rights program defends national security whistleblowers in the court of law, in the court of public opinion, and through legislative and public policy channels. GAP has taken on the most powerful entities in the world to reveal excessive government secrecy, torture and assassination, government surveillance, and political discrimination on behalf of whistleblowers from the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS, Military and State Department.
Among the many clients GAP represents from the intelligence community, the military, and the private sector are National Security Agency whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake, Central Intelligence Agency whistleblower John Kiriakou. These individuals share a commitment to constitutional, ethical, and effective practices that protect national security, even when faced with retaliation, investigation, and threats of criminal prosecution.
To protect the rights of these individuals, as well as the safety of this country, the National Security & Human Rights program is focused on the following:
- Continuing GAP’s campaign against the criminalization of whistleblowers. Under the Obama administration, the tactic of criminalizing the messenger has been taken to new heights. The current administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. GAP protects whistleblowers in the face of criminal investigation and prosecution. The reality is that criminal prosecutions of whistleblowers have a chilling effect that go far beyond any individual. GAP is working with MoveOn.org, Brave New Foundation, and other coalition partners to involve the public through online petitions to support legislation that would arm whistleblowers with an affirmative defense for criminal prosecutions and make it illegal to open a criminal investigation in retaliation for activities shielded by the WPEA.
- Confronting illegal and unconstitutional governmental behavior, especially surveillance, torture and assassination, excessive secrecy and politically-motivated discrimination. GAP will work directly with whistleblowers with the goal of creating meaningful, systemic reforms, starting with Congress, and specifically, the Inspectors General offices and the federal Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and European Parliament. GAP can assist whistleblowers in safely making disclosures through government channels.
- Protecting whistleblowers from employment retaliation. GAP will continue to represent intelligence and national security whistleblowers in internal agency investigations, before administrative bodies such as the Department of Labor (DOL) and Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and in federal court.
- Enshrining whistleblowing as a universally-recognized human right. GAP is working on the creation of a body of international whistleblower protections with Transparency International, the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Council, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the US State Department. Similarly, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are also working towards the recognition of whistleblowing as a human right as clearly established by the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information.
- Fighting for the passage of permanent protections for National Security whistleblowers. A 13-year campaign lead by GAP culminated in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) becoming the law of the land on November 27, 2012. While Congress enacted effective whistleblower laws now covering 80 million private sector workers and most federal employees–the rights of all national security whistleblowers were stripped from the bill. Nonetheless, GAP worked with the White House in developing a Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on National Security whistleblower policy. And while the PPD is no substitute for Congress legislating permanent rights for these workers, it was the start of a crucial debate that GAP and its whistleblowers continue to advance.
- Opposing anti-whistleblower makeovers of Civil Service law The Director of National Intelligence and the federal Office of Personnel Management have proposed rules that could undo newly enacted whistleblower protections for federal employees through retroactively designating positions as “sensitive” and beyond these protections or any other rights established by civil service law or precedent. Clearly, this anti-whistleblower effort cannot stand.
National Security & Human Rights 2014 Fact Base