Last month the White House issued a directive protecting whistleblowers with access to classified information. The directive prohibits retaliation against intelligence community employees who report instances of waste, fraud and abuse.

The directive requires intelligence agencies to certify to the Director of National Intelligence within 270 days that procedures have been placed to allow employees to seek a review of personnel actions they believe to be in violation of their whistleblower protections. The directive also directs the Director of National Intelligence to create policies and procedures to ensure employees know what disclosures are protected and the appropriate handling of protected disclosures.

The directive comes in the wake of several high-profile election year leaks, and a record number of whistleblower prosecutions by the Obama Administration. Some have criticized the White House of betraying its promise of open government, with whistleblower policies which have hindered free speech.

The Whistleblower Protection Act provides protections to federal employees, it doesn’t apply to intelligence community officials, and Congress has thus far declined to extend the protections of the Whistleblower Protection Act to the intelligence community.

Many are applauding the act others continue to argue it doesn’t go far enough, and Congress needs to step in to ensure due process for intelligence community officials.

“While this directive is not a panacea, it begins to fill a large void in whistleblower protections and lays the framework for more government accountability where it is sorely needed,” said Angela Canterbury, Director of Public Policy for the Project on Government Oversight. “Because the President directs agencies to create procedures for internal review of claims, we will be very interested in the rulemaking and strength of the due process rights in practice.”

Whistleblower protections aren’t the only area where due process ambiguity affects intelligence community professionals. In September the Justice Department asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to rule on whether and to what extent federal judges can rule over security clearance disputes.


Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves cybersecurity, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email

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