Sibel Edmonds | Porter Goss's Op-Ed: 'Ignoturn per Ignotius!'
Sir, as you must very well know after your years in Congress as a representative and as a member of the intelligence committee, there are no meaningful legal protections for whistleblowers. What is troubling is that while you are well aware of the fact that there are no meaningful or enforceable laws that provide protection to national security whistleblowers, you nevertheless state that such workers are covered by existing laws. That is simply false. You state that 'The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act was enacted to ensure that current or former employees could petition Congress, after raising concerns within their respective agency, consistent with the need to protect classified information.' The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which appears to be the legal channel provided to national security employees, turns out on closer inspection to be toothless. Please refer to the recent independent report issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on National Security Whistleblowers on December 30, 2005. The report concludes that there currently are no protections for national security whistleblowers - period. Let me provide you with a recent example illustrating the fallacy of your claim:
In December 2005, Mr. Russ Tice, former National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence analyst and action officer, sent letters to the chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, and requested meetings to brief them on probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts conducted while he was an intelligence officer with the NSA and DIA. In his letter, Mr. Tice, as a law abiding and responsible intelligence officer, stated, 'Due to the highly sensitive nature of these programs and operations, I will require assurances from your committee that the staffers and/or congressional members to participate retain the proper security clearances, and also have the appropriate SAP cleared facilities available for these discussion.' On January 9, 2006, the NSA sent an official letter to Mr. Tice stating, 'neither the staff nor the members of the House or Senate Intelligence committees are cleared to receive the information.'
Now, Mr. Goss, please explain this to the American public: What happened to your so-called appropriate Congressional channels and protections available to national security whistleblowers? Mr. Goss, what 'protected disclosure to Congress?' According to the NSA, no one in the United States Congress is 'cleared enough' to hear reports from national security whistleblowers. Please name one whistleblower to date who has been protected after disclosing information to the United States Congress: can you name even a single case? Or, is that information considered classified? How do we expect the United States Congress to conduct its oversight responsibility and maintain the necessary checks on the Executive Branch, when agencies such as yours declare the members of congress 'not cleared enough' to receive reports regarding conduct by these agencies? Where do you suggest employees like Mr. Tice go to report waste, fraud, abuse and/or illegal conduct by their agencies? Based on your administration's self-declared claim of inherent power and authority of the executive branch to override courts and the United States Congress, what other channels are left to pursue?
Last year, the CIA, your agency, classified the entire findings of the Inspector General's investigation into the failures of CIA managers prior to 9/11. Sir, I believe you made the case for this classification based on your intention to protect the wrongdoers within the CIA bureaucracy from being "stigmatized." Is this what your op-ed intended to say? Did you mean to say that these national security whistleblowers may end up stigmatizing the wrongdoers and incompetents within the rank and file of the CIA by divulging information that you decided to classify to prevent exposure of embarrassing and criminal activity? Was that a Freudian slip, since nowadays the lines get blurry between classification for national security purposes and classification to protect the agency's bureaucrats?
Mr. Goss, I cannot attribute this misleading op-ed to your ignorance, since you were a member of Congress until recently and are surely aware of the lack of meaningful protection for national security whistleblowers; so I won't. I will not attribute it to your stupidity, since obviously our Congress confirmed your position and I do not intend to insult their wisdom and intelligence. Thus, it must be your arrogance, nurtured and fed by your boss on your purported inherent and limitless authority and power, leading you to treat us, the American Public, as stupid.