Trump's war on leakers has neutered the intelligence community's whistleblower program, which diverts leakers

The Intelligence Community Inspector General office is the place where spies and spook contractors who discover wrongdoing are supposed to be able to confidentially report their suspicions and know that they'll be investigated and acted upon. Dan Meyer, who is in charge of liasing with whistleblowers is now prohibited from talking with whistleblowers, from briefing agencies or congress or send out the office's newsletter. He has been stripped of his deputy and staff.

The acting inspector general is Wayne Stone, who spent the majority of his time in office attending grad school at Harvard, without access to a secure room where he can review classified documents. After official pressure he started spending two days a week in DC, but not for much longer as he's been told he won't be confirmed as permanent inspector general.

The interagency inspector general isn't the only shambles. Trump nominated Chris Sharpley to serve as CIA's inspector general, despite Sharpley's history of retaliating against whistleblowers who accused him of wrongdoing.

For some intelligence employees, the relatively young office has already proved vital. One National Security Agency employee, who asked that their name not be used because they work for an intelligence agency, alleged the NSA's inspector general, George Ellard, retaliated against him — though the Defense Department disagreed (the Pentagon declined comment on the case).

When the employee appealed the decision, he won, and Ellard was put on leave from his position at NSA as a result.

The intelligence community's Office of the Inspector General "is the only place where you can get a fair review," the NSA whistleblower told FP during a phone interview. "Having an independent inspector general was instrumental."

Now, however, "it's gutted," the whistleblower said.

The NSA employee pointed to the case of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked a trove of top-secret documents to reporters, revealing a massive global surveillance campaign. Snowden has argued he leaked the documents because there was no way to raise his complaints internally about what he believed was illegal surveillance.

An inspector general, proponents say, is needed to demonstrate that the intelligence community does have a legitimate internal and legal way to air grievances of law. "They talk about whistleblowers and leakers in the same sentence. They're not the same," the former NSA employee said. The inspector general is in place "to prevent someone from saying 'I had no choice but to leak.'"

A Turf War Is Tearing Apart the Intel Community's Watchdog Office
[Jenna McLaughlin/Foreign Policy]

(via Techdirt)