The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Dylan Blaylock,202.408.0034 ext. 137,

Sharp Criticism Follows Rejection of NSA Whistleblower's Retaliation Claim

 Pentagon OIG Reviewed Only 5 Months of Ten Years of a Complaint Highlighting NSA Reprisals for Whistleblowing


Thomas Drake, a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, who reported billions of dollars in waste and rampant civil liberties abuses by the NSA on a surveillance program called Trailblazer, has had his claim of NSA retaliation for whistleblowing rejected by the Pentagon Inspector General's Office. The IG's Office reviewed only 5 months of ten years of retaliation in Drake's complaint, according to a Pentagon summary of the probe obtained by McClatchy.

The news comes with revelations that the DoD IG's destruction of records in the Drake case triggered debate within the office, and that the very governmental officials charged with helping whistleblowers have had to blow the whistle themselves on the Pentagon Inspector General's Office, after being mistreated for speaking out against the mishandling of whistleblower cases.

"I am stunned but not surprised to finally see official confirmation, thanks to GAP and the press, that the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General sold me out, after I became one of the most severely retaliated against whistleblowers in US history, and destroyed exculpatory information to cover it up," Drake stated.

"Even after getting burned by the system, I attempted to use proper channels for reporting reprisal against me, which included criminal prosecution: the government painted me as an Enemy of the State. I am disappointed that a very dense, years-long whistleblower reprisal complaint resulted in a shoddy seven-page Report of Investigation limited to a 5 month segment of a decade-plus long ordeal."

Despite official confirmation by the Pentagon Inspector General's Office that Drake was an important whistleblower on the NSA's wasteful spending, Drake had previously been stripped of all official duties at the agency and faced criminal charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The prosecution threatened him with 35 years behind bars, but all felony charges were dropped just a week before going to trial.

This is just the latest of a string of retaliatory measures taken against whistleblowers who have reported waste, fraud or abuse in government, including former CIA operatives John Kiriakou, also a GAP client, and Jeffrey Sterling.

Jesselyn Radack, GAP's National Security and Human Rights Director and Mr. Drake's attorney, stated:

"Given that the DoD IG could not bother to investigate the crux of the reprisal allegations from one of its own witnesses, it is understandable that whistleblowers are disinclined to bring significant disclosures to the DoD IG. This is further confirmation that Edward Snowden absolutely did the right thing by avoiding this internal channel."

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.