US Congress passes intelligence whistleblower protections
26 June 2014, 17:10
Washington – The US Congress has passed a law offering
whistleblower protections for government intelligence employees, a move cheered
by supporters of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The House of Representatives voted late on Tuesday to pass the final version of
the annual provision authorising the US government's intelligence activities
for the 2015 budget year, which begins 1 October. The Senate had already voted
to approve the provision.
Section VI forbids firing, demoting or other reprisals against any intelligence
worker who reports violations of federal law, wasting of funds or any activity
that puts the public in danger to the inspector general of agencies such as the
National Security Agency or Central Intelligence Agency.
The statute also applies to anyone reporting issues to the Office of the
Director of National Intelligence, or to lawmakers on intelligence committees.
"It's a no-brainer to restore safe alternatives to illegal leaks,"
said Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project, which defends
Last year, the former intelligence contractor leaked details
of vast US surveillance programs on everything from everyday people's phone
calls to intrusions into high-tech companies' servers.
But non-staff contractors, such as Edward Snowden during his time working for
the NSA, are not covered by the new protections. They had been protected under
a law that was in effect between 2007 and 2012.
In Congress, a number of lawmakers reproached Snowden for having leaked the NSA
files to journalists and not through official channels within the government.
Snowden says he tried, without success, to bring his concerns to his bosses.
The law also requires Senate confirmation for the director of the NSA, a post
that until now had been outside senators' oversight.