Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Richard Moberly (Nebraska) has just posted an article to SSRN: Whistleblowers and the Obama Presidency: The National Security Dilemma. It will be published this fall in the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal as part of their symposium on "The Workplace Law Agenda of the Obama Administration."
Here is the abstract:
As a candidate for President, Barack Obama promised to protect whistleblowers because they are, in his words, “watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.” Three years into his Presidency, Obama’s record often demonstrates strong support for employees who disclose government misconduct. He appointed whistleblower-rights supporters to key administrative posts and fought to include robust whistleblower protections in his key legislative accomplishments, such as the economic stimulus package, health care reform and the financial reform bill. However, the Obama Administration’s treatment of national security whistleblowers has been decidedly less emphatic and more nuanced. His Administration aggressively prosecuted unauthorized disclosures related to national security and objected to reporters claiming a privilege not to reveal their sources. Moreover, a substantial legislative reform of federal employee whistleblower protections remained in limbo for much of Obama’s Presidency in part because of his Administration’s concern that the proposed law would provide too many rights to national security whistleblowers. This Article examines and critiques this apparent contradiction in President Obama’s whistleblower agenda and also explores ways in which the Obama Administration might satisfy its national security policy objectives without undermining whistleblower protection.
This is a must-read article for anyone who follows current developments in whistleblower protection law. Moberly is one of the national authorities in this area of workplace law and his remarks about the good and bad of Obama's approach to whistleblowing should give administration officials and other interested parties much to think about.
For me, effective whistleblower laws, whether constitutional, statutory, or common law-based, are an essential tool to permit federal, state, and local employees to be the vanguard of the citizenry. With effective laws, these public employees are able to protect the rest of us from government fraud, abuse, and waste without endangering their own job security.