Crackdown on Whistle-Blowers

28/02/2013 14:18

Source: Bloomberg

President Barack Obama is seeking new rules to allow federal agencies to fire employees without appeal if their work has some tie to national security, a move that advocates for whistle-blowers say may hurt efforts to keep government transparent and free from corruption.

Potentially thousands of positions would be covered and government watchdog groups say it may provide a new way to crack down on leaks by government workers.

In a little-noticed one-page memorandum on Jan. 25, Obama instructed the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management to propose standards for designating a position “national security sensitive.”

The president’s memo came out the day after a federal appeals court panel issued a 2-1 ruling that set aside an August court decision giving the government broad authority to remove employees from “sensitive” jobs without appeal. The full court will rehear the case, Berry v. Conyers, this year, and its decision may constrain the federal government’s power.

“There is so much secrecy, and employees have so few rights already in the national security bureaucracy,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a Washington-based whistle-blower advocacy group.

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