The Inspector General (IG) of the Intelligence Community, Michael K. Atkinson, calls IGs “first responders.” In his semi-annual report to Congress, he writes:
As so-called first responders, Inspectors General must act swiftly and appropriately when – through audits, investigations, inspections, or reviews – possible wrongdoing is revealed. They must identify, stop, or correct the problem, and in the process, they may need to alert those who can assist in the response, whether it be Congress, law enforcement authorities, or others.
He goes on to write that, like all ‘first responders, his team is dependent “upon those who first raise an alarm.” Often, whistleblowers are the first people to note waste or possible wrongdoing.
The past few months have been a searing time for whistleblowers’ rights and protections. Much has been written and much has been said about whistleblowers recently, some of it accurate and helpful, and some not. Time will tell whether whistleblowers’ rights and protections will emerge from this period with the same legal, ethical, and moral strength they had previously.
He writes that he believes whistleblower rights will endure.
My optimism comes from my belief that the American people want an honest and effective government that reflects their hard-fought values. Such a government benefits when individuals who suspect fraud, waste, abuse, or malfeasance in their government are encouraged to speak up. Those who demonstrate the personal ethics and moral courage expected of individuals who have the honor and privilege of working for the American people should not suffer from or fear reprisal when they do speak up.
A searing time indeed. As Government Executive reports, the document covers April through September, “including the public release of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, President Trump’s Ukraine call, the whistleblower complaint about the call, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s congressional testimony on handling of the complaint and the start of the impeachment inquiry. Additionally, it includes the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s repudiation of the Justice Department’s memo that argued the whistleblower’s complaint was not urgent, contrary to Atkinson’s determination.”