Was Edward Snowden Covered by the IC Whistleblowers Act? Yes, He Was.
“As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the U.S. government, I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.
“President Obama also reformed a key executive whistleblower regulation with his 2012 Presidential Policy Directive 19, but it exempted intelligence community contractors such as myself. The result was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels.”
So said Edward Snowden in testimony to the European Parliament on March 7th this year.
But did he really not have any protection under the Intelligence Community Whistleblowing Act?
The DNI didn’t think so back in 2012. From their own whistleblowing website, as of 6th October 2012 - months before Snowden left the agency:
The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 provides employees and contractors of intelligence agencies with a mechanism for reporting alleged wrongdoing in IC agencies and associated programs to Congress.
It also says:
A Federal agency cannot retaliate against an employee or applicant because that individual exercises his or her rights under any of the Federal antidiscrimination or whistleblower protection laws listed above.
On another page, also from 2012, the DNI gives detailed instructions about how an “IC employee, assignee, detailee, or contractor” could file a whistleblowing complaint to the Inspector General, or contact Congress.
Other pages on the same site even say how he could have reported anonymously if he wanted to be sure he was safe from reprisals.
Snowden would surely have known this had he actually bothered to search “IC” and “whistleblowing” (it’s the first “.gov” hit on Google).
The fact that he knew he was protected - or didn’t bother to try and find out if he was - significantly undermines his argument that he couldn’t whistleblow.
It’s not that he couldn’t whistleblow. It’s that he chose not to.
The same description of the ICWPA is now posted at the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General: DoD IG - Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA).