Whistleblowing: Then and Now

Roughly two years ago, I was asked by a reporter whether it seemed that the Obama administration had gone after more whistleblowers than any previous Administration. Since then, it’s become clear that the “most transparent Administration in history” is anything but: more whistleblowers have been investigated or even prosecuted than at any point in American history. But don’t let anyone tell you that there’s ever been a “golden age” for whistleblowers. I know from personal experience what it feels like to have the agency you work for gunning for you.

When my wife and I began raising the issue of potential chemical exposures among Desert Storm veterans, CIA officials–at first–treated us as an internal nuisance. When I began to note increasing media interest in the issue and the likelihood that CIA would get tarred with DoD unless the Agency took the issue seriously, we went from being a nuisance to a threat–at least in the eyes of the number two official in charge of intelligence analysis.

This memo from CIA Security, which I had to sue via FOIA to obtain, tells the story in part. But what’s noteworthy is the mentality that led to the investigation to begin with–a mentality that blossomed post-9/11 into a true witch-hunt mentality across the national security community. 

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