2011-02-11 US Senator from Hawaii confirms 'Republican placed Anonymous Hold on Whistleblower Protection Act'

The U.S. Senator from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye, has confirmed that a Republican Senator placed an anonymous hold on The Whistleblower Protection Act.


On December 22, 2010, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act Bill (S.372) was killed by an unknown United States Senator, who placed an anonymous hold on the bill (reported here and here on WL Central).

WNYC, On the Media and the Government Accountability Project have joined forces to uncover the identity of the mystery senator.

I created a list of Senators, who are on Twitter, and who have not yet responded to: "Did you place an anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Act?" Both U.S. Senator Inouye of Hawaii and U.S. Senator Stabenow of Michigan responded to the Twitter campaign directly from their official accounts.


Ten Senators Remain

There are twelve Senators who have not yet responded, but two are Democrats, Harry Reid of Nevada and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. That means ten Senators remain. Two additional Republican Senators, as yet unconfirmed, were said to have responded "no" to a follower of the Twitter list.

Wikileaks Fears

The Washington Post reports that the Wikileaks publication of classified U.S. information was the cause of controversy over the bill, which led to a compromise in the legislation that removed national security and intelligence employees protections:

"The Obama administration initially sought to include national security and intelligence employees and won bipartisan Senate support for doing so, but the part of the bill that covered them was stripped by supporters in recent days after House Republicans expressed concern that it might encourage disclosures comparable to the WikiLeaks publication of U.S. diplomatic cables." (Source: Washington Post)

"Democrats countered that the bill would inhibit such breaches by specifically opening confidential, protected and legal channels for reporting classified abuse." (Source: Washington Post)

Angela Cantebury of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based government watchdog group, posted an article titled "How a Red Herring about WikiLeaks Killed Whistleblower Protections":

"After an unbelievable roller coaster of fear and fallacies, votes on and off, and a flurry of activity, when the lights went out in the Capitol Building on December 22, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act was dead...It may be one of the few times in history when legislation has passed both chambers unanimously within two weeks and still failed to get to the president's desk" (Source: Pogo)

Cantebury also asserts that "[A] few Republicans tried to connect the bill to the WikiLeaks controversy. There was no real connection—just an opportunity for a media platform to possibly embarrass the president and kill a bill he supported in the process." (Source: Pogo)

The Government Accountability Project responded to the anonymous hold on their Web site:

"This was of tremendous disappointment to us. For twelve years, GAP and an expanding coalition of 400 citizen organizations and companies with some 80 million combined members, of all ideologies, have been fighting to restore credible whistleblower rights for federal government employees and contractors. During the past decade, this was by far the closest that real federal whistleblower protections came to passage."

Other Opposition within Whistleblower Community

Other opposition to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act exists within the whistleblower advocacy community.

The National Whistleblower Center spoke out against the legislation in a letter to Senators:

"Although we have other concerns with S. 372, the Congressional reversal of the Drake decision will constitute a tragic setback for taxpayers. It will have significant adverse consequences on the ability of employees to report violations of law and political corruption. We understand that those in high-ranking political offices are reluctant to support whistleblowers, but stripping employees of their current right to blow the whistle on any violation of law is simply intolerable" (Source: NWC)

Fred Whitehurst, the former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who blew the whistle in 1993 on forensic fraud in the FBI crime lab, also lobbied against the bill:

"[L]ike every other whistleblower and most Americans I was looking forward to seeing President Obama and Congress fulfill their promise to strengthen these whistleblower rights. However, I was horrified to discover that the Senate whistleblower bill does not do this. For national security whistleblowers it does the exact opposite. S. 372 repeals the FBI whistleblower protections that I sacrificed my career for. I am not only a whistleblower, I am also an attorney who personally read the law and can tell you that S. 372 sets back whistleblower rights 30 years." (Source: NWC)

"The Senate bill enhances the state secrets privilege, which allows the government to unilaterally dismiss a case on national security grounds." (Source: NWC)

"The Senate bill is proceeding under a rule known as "unanimous consent." This means that your Senator can personally withhold his or her support for the law and insist that the current FBI protections not be repealed. Every Senator has the authority and power prevent passage of the law in its current form, and can ensure that the FBI whistleblower protections I risked my career to obtain are not repealed! We need your help!" (Source: NWC)

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