McClatchy reports: A government watchdog has ordered the CIA and the Pentagon to re-investigate retaliation allegations brought by two intelligence employees who accused their agencies of major institutional failings.
The action by the intelligence community inspector general is the first public indication that a new intelligence appeals system is underway. The panel was set up by President Barack Obama as an independent forum that can evaluate whether whistleblowers were improperly fired or otherwise punished for disclosures after their agencies rejected their claims.
The humvee in which Mike Helms was traveling and serving as a gunner in Iraq on June 16, 2004 hit a roadside bomb that shredded the left front side of the vehicle while it was traveling about 60 miles per hour. Helms was later denied treatment at military hospitals for his injuries. He alerted Congress to the inadequate medical care he and others received. However, he still struggles to find a job in his field after the Army revoked his clearance in what he says was illegal retaliation for his disclosures to Congress.
The cases, nonetheless, demonstrate that the whistleblower system continues to be beset with problems and bureaucratic delays despite being overhauled by Congress and the Obama administration.
“Navigating the system as an intelligence employee is still very burdensome and overwhelming,” said Michael Helms, a former Army intelligence officer whose case is one of the two being kicked back. “A decade after I blew the whistle on inadequate care for military civilians, I’m still waiting for justice.”
Obama pointed to the reforms when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed he had decided to go to the media with classified documents about the spy agency’s data collection programs instead of relying on the whistleblower system. Snowden asserted that intelligence agencies couldn’t be trusted to look into serious malfeasance or to protect high-profile whistleblowers. [Continue reading…]