The White House issued a National Defense Authorization Act signing statement, which circumvents whistleblower protection provisions for 12 million government contractors--yet another blot on Obama's atrocious war on whistleblowers (you can read about the government's Espionage Act prosecution of my client, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, in yesterday's New York Times front-pager.)
To add insult to injury, the White House did not even have the courtesy to alert Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), the key backer of the whistleblower protections. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), another strong advocate of the protections, issued a statement describing Obama's signing statement as "deeply disturbing."
It shows Obama's priorities (or lack thereof) when he devotes an entire paragraph of a 2.5-page signing statement--on a 680-page law--to gutting whistleblower provisions.
What's wrong with protecting 12 million employees of federal contractors from exposing fraud, waste, abuse and illegality within the federal procurement system? According to Obama,
I will interpret [the whistleblower protection] sections consistent with my authority to direct the heads of executive departments to supervise, control, and correct employees' communications with the Congress in cases where such communications would be unlawful or would reveal information that is properly privileged or otherwise confidential.(Emphasis mine.) The language is creepy, but telling. It's all about controlling information, something at the heart of the twisted prosecutions of whistleblowers for espionage. After all, whistleblowers like Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou blew the whistle on the highly-illegal domestic surveillance program and torture program, respectively, both of which the Bush and Obama administrations have claimed are classified, or even state secrets.
The whistleblower provisions would have protected contract employees precisely in the position of Tom Drake, who exposed the National Security Agency's (NSA) gross waste and mismanagement to the tune of billions of wasted dollars in the federal procurement system.
My learned colleague at the Government Accountability Project, Tom Devine, said the language of Obama's objections could have been much worse:
The president's expressions of concerns were a milquetoast version of traditional Pentagon fretting about whistleblowers . . . We all considered them so muted that it was almost like tacit support for making those rights, expanding those rights.Huh?Tacit support for these provisions would have been to let them stand, rather than making them unenforceable.