A reader sent me this disturbing move from the US Senate to supposedly protect whistle-blowers but in fact is the complete opposite. Wikileaks is causing worries across the political establishment:
On December 10, 2010, the Senate passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) by unanimous consent. After a careful review of S. 372, the National Whistleblowers Center, the Federal Ethics Center, and the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition strongly recommend that the bill not be approved in its current form. We urge the House of Representatives to fix the bill and send it back to the Senate for final approval. Here is why the bill must be fixed:
1. New Summary Dismissal Authority. The bill gives the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) sweeping new powers to dismiss whistleblower claims without a hearing. The MSPB Administrative Judges will now be able to dismiss WPA claims without a hearing, based solely on affidavits filed by executive agencies. If whistleblowers did not conduct extensive and expensive pre-trial depositions, they will be unable to rebut these affidavits, and their cases will be dismissed. Even if the whistleblower is able to afford the significant additional fees and costs caused by the new summary dismissal proceedings, based on the track record of the AJs, the vast majority of cases will be summarily dismissed based on agency affidavits. The opportunity to create a record at a hearing, or use the pre-hearing process as an opportunity to reach a settlement, will be lost. This is a significant rollback of current rights that will make it more costly and more difficult for whistleblowers to prevail in any actions, despite any of the other reforms contained in the legislation.
Significantly, in one of the handful of positive Federal Circuit decisions, that Court has rejected numerous requests from the executive branch that the authority to dismiss cases summarily be judicially created. The Court recognized that in 1978, when the Civil Service Reform Act was originally passed, this was a big issue and was hotly contested. The whistleblowers prevailed at that time. It would be a shame to lose that hard earned victory in an “Enhancement” act.