Milbank: Snowden Right Not to Trust Whistleblower Law

Wednesday, 21 Aug 2013 12:14 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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NSA leaker Edward Snowden was right not to trust federal whistleblower laws with his complaints that the agency was overstepping its bounds with its surveillance programs, columnist Dana Milbank says.

"It’s a load of nonsense," Milbank wrote in The Washington Post.

"This is a common refrain among administration officials and some lawmakers: If only Snowden had made his concerns known through the proper internal channels, everything would have turned out well."

Obama said in a news conference this month that Snowden was wrong to make NSA surveillance programs public because "there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions.”

But history does not support Obama's contention, wrote Milbank, citing the example of Defense Department whistleblower Gina Gray, who used the whistleblower law to reveal wrongdoing and mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery.

"Gray registered her objections internally — but loudly," Milbank wrote. "For her troubles, Gray was fired."

Milbank wrote that Gray, who worked in Iraq as an Army contractor and public affairs specialist, lost her job two days after refusing to sign off on a report that she felt whitewashed the Arlington incidents.

Gray told Milbank, "I went all the way up the channels. This is what happens when you do that. "

"Sadly, Gray’s case is emblematic of the way this administration has handled whistleblowers. Obama came into office pledging transparency and professing admiration for government workers who expose abuses,” Milbank wrote.

"Gray’s case shows that Snowden was correct about one thing: Trying to pursue the proper internal channels doesn’t work," Milbank wrote.

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