Time Magazine “Woman of the Year” Urges Congress to Honor the Anniversary of 9/11 by Enacting Protections for National Security Whistleblowers
Washington, D.C. September 11, 2009. On the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley issued a plea to the President and Congress to immediately enact whistleblower protections for national security employees. In her letter Ms. Rowley stated:
“Today is the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There are many ways that we can honor the lives lost and one of them is preventing it from happening again. Strong whistleblower protections for national security whistleblowers are the key.”
“I blew the whistle on the failure of the government to approve a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui, an al Qaeda operative who was attending flight school just weeks before the tragic attack. The flight school instructors had numerous concerns which matched up with intelligence from abroad.”
“Unfortunately as an FBI whistleblower, I learned the hard way what exposing this and other post 9-11 mistakes means to your career and your entire life.”
“Although I was honored by Time magazine in being named a Person of the Year for having blown the whistle on this terrible security lapse, I know of so many other national security whistleblowers that lost their jobs and livelihood simply by doing the right thing. They need legal protection! They need it now!”
“We must make sure that the President and every member of the House and Senate hear our voice and know that we need strong whistleblower protections for national security employees that include the right of court access and trial by jury for national security whistleblowers. Please take action now before it is too late to prevent the next major terrorist attack.”
Ms. Rowley worked as an FBI agent at the time, and blew the whistle on the government’s failure to approve a search warrant for one of the al Qaeda operatives who was attending flight school shortly before the attack. In 2002 she was named one of three “Person’s of the Year” by Time Magazine due as a result of the courage she demonstrated as a whistleblower, and the importance of her disclosures in protecting national security and fixing long-standing problems within intelligence agencies.
Ms. Rowley’s letter urges support for the Van Hollen-Platts Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which provides protections for national security whistleblowers, including due process rights and access to the federal courts. The Senate bill does not include these rights. It is expected that Congress will take action on federal employee whistleblower rights this month.
Stephen M. Kohn, the Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center confirmed that “after 9/11/01 scores of highly placed national security whistleblowers were retaliated against or fired for having the courage to disclose threats to our nation or outright incompetence at the FBI, CIA and other agencies. The American people have paid the price for letting these agencies off hook, and excluding their employees from whistleblower protections. Twice the House of Representatives has passed legislation to fix this problem. Twice the Senate failed to act. It’s time to get the job done. National security employees know that they can be fired simply for reporting waste, fraud and abuse. They watched as their colleagues who reported abuses after 9/11 were demoted, harassed or fired. When these workers are bullied into silence, the American people are the real losers.”