Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) secured whistleblower protection provisions for members of the Intelligence Community in the 2023 Intelligence Authorization Act that passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 22.
The press release states that the whistleblower protection provisions from the Senate’s FY22 bill are in the 2023 bill and “were stripped out in the previous conference committee.” The provisions are as follows:
- “Ensuring the continuity of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
- Ensuring that the IC can’t use a pretext to revoke a whistleblower’s security clearance.
- Removing the damages cap for whistleblowers.
- Ensuring that whistleblowers can come straight to Congress.
- Precluding the “urgent concern” argument that the Trump DOJ used to keep the Ukraine whistleblower from Congress.
- Prohibiting the public disclosure of a whistleblower’s identity as a reprisal.”
Wyden celebrated the committee for including his provisions and said, “This bipartisan legislation makes meaningful strides to improve treatment of whistleblowers and ensuring Congress can perform real oversight of intelligence agencies.”
“Whistleblowers are the key to protecting our democracy,” Siri Nelson, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, told WNN. “Intelligence Community whistleblowers need a clear path to stop threats to our society, and this bill creates that path.”
Other provisions Wyden secured in the 2023 Act include a provision that Intelligence Community personnel are not denied or stripped of a security clearance because of “past use of cannabis.” Another provision is “[r]equiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to review and report on the feasibility of being more transparent about activities under Executive Order 12333, which governs a wide range of surveillance and other intelligence activities.”
Wyden is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. Another piece of whistleblower legislation he is currently sponsoring is the IRS Whistleblower Program Improvement Act of 2021. The bill, which Wyden introduced alongside Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in June 2021 makes several reforms to the IRS Whistleblower Program in order to improve the program’s operations and better protect whistleblowers who expose tax fraud.