America's spy agencies have always talked a good game about the "official channels" available to spies who discover wrongdoing, insisting that the procedures to investigate their claims and protect them from retaliation mean that no spy should ever have to go to the press.
When you read the accounts of leakers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, you learn that the spies themselves don't trust these promises: they saw how the agencies systematically destroyed the likes of Bill Binney and Tom Drake.
Since Snowden's revelations, the US spy agencies have made a great show of beefing up whistleblower protections. Chief among these is the office of Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection, whose capabilities were never very convincing (certainly not enough to convince Reality Winner).
It's even less convincing today. Dan Meyer, Executive Director of Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection, was just marched out of his office and put on administrative leave, without any explanation — not even to powerful politicians like Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley.
Trump has been at war with the American spy establishment since the 2016 campaign, and the US government's best hope for preventing spooks from undermining the administration by leaking to the press was a legitimate-seeming internal procedure for monitoring the agencies' integrity. With literally no one in charge of this function anymore, it seems like it's only a matter of time before more Mannings, Snowdens and Winners show up in newsrooms, especially those using Securedrop to protect their sources.
Citing media coverage of the inspector general's current predicament, Grassley argued it is important that Meyer be protected from retaliation for managing his whistleblower protection program, and demanded any records and documents relating to his case.
"For the agency to take such a drastic personnel action while there is no confirmed, permanent Inspector General in place irreparably undermines the independence of that office," he wrote.
"While we will not speak to any alleged cases, the ODNI unequivocally supports Intelligence Community whistleblower programs. We are committed to ensuring that all IC personnel have the means available to report wrongdoing to a variety of authorized individuals without compromising national security or retaliation," wrote a spokesperson from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Whistleblower Guardian for Spies Escorted Out of Intelligence Agency Building
[Jenna McLaughlin/Foreign Policy]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Piglet, CC-BY)