Magazine article Security Management

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

Magazine article Security Management

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

Article excerpt

It is said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. When it comes to national security, however, the squeaky whistle-blower gets discredited. And while there are laws against retaliation, national security whistleblowers do not have the same legal protections that most other federal employees enjoy.

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Take the case of Richard Levernier, one of several witnesses who spoke to a congressional committee looking into the issue. After raising concerns internally about nuclear plant security, Levernier said, "My superiors told me that my zeal for finding problems was not appreciated and my career would suffer as a result."

Levernier was not intimidated. But when he later gave the media a copy of a report on problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory (after it had been officially declassified and put on a government Web site), his security clearance was removed. He won his appeal on the merits, but the Office of Special Counsel had no authority to force the Department of Energy to reinstate the clearance. That effectively ended his career--and sent a clear message to future whistleblowers.

Other whistleblowers recounted similar experiences. Removal of the security clearance--vital for anyone working in intelligence--was the weapon most often used against them when they raised concerns about security problems within their organizations. Often their clearances were removed after they shared information with Congress or cooperated with authorized government investigations. …

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