Whistleblowers and the Obama Presidency: The National Security Dilemma
91 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2012 Last revised: 11 Dec 2012
Date Written: June 27, 2012
As a candidate for President, Barack Obama promised to protect whistleblowers because they are, in his words, “watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.” Three years into his Presidency, Obama’s record often demonstrates strong support for employees who disclose government misconduct. He appointed whistleblower-rights supporters to key administrative posts and fought to include robust whistleblower protections in his key legislative accomplishments, such as the economic stimulus package, health care reform and the financial reform bill. However, the Obama Administration’s treatment of national security whistleblowers has been decidedly less emphatic and more nuanced. His Administration aggressively prosecuted unauthorized disclosures related to national security and objected to reporters claiming a privilege not to reveal their sources. Moreover, a substantial legislative reform of federal employee whistleblower protections remained in limbo for much of Obama’s Presidency in part because of his Administration’s concern that the proposed law would provide too many rights to national security whistleblowers. This Article examines and critiques this apparent contradiction in President Obama’s whistleblower agenda and also explores ways in which the Obama Administration might satisfy its national security policy objectives without undermining whistleblower protection.
Keywords: whistleblower, national security, Obama, federal government employment
JEL Classification: K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation