Many whistleblowers end up facing criminal charges, but they are still able to pursue a case as a whistleblower and are afforded the full protections of a whistleblower. Federal employees have recently received much stronger whistleblower protections, and many now feel free to come forward to report fraud, abuse, or any sort of wrongdoing in the workplace. Federal employees in the intelligence community, however, have much fewer whistleblower protections, and intelligence employees who are employed through private contractors receive absolutely no whistleblower protections. Employees of private contractors are still encouraged to report wrongdoing up the chain of command or to report to the Inspector General if necessary, but if they come forward, they are doing it in the hopes that they will not get fired, shut out, or ignored.
Snowden was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, who receives 98% of its revenue from federal government contracts. The chain of command at Booz Allen is likely concerned with the company's bottom line and not the public policy of our country. Angela Canterbury, Director of Policy at the Project On Government Oversight, says that "there is not the same level of accountability. We have a situation where the intelligence community is largely run by contractors." She went further to say, "if you look at intelligence contractors, they have no protections under any of the laws. It really is an accountability loophole." Snowden was fired almost immediately after the information went public, and he had to flee the country out of fear of criminal prosecution.
Most whistleblowers are afforded anti-retaliation protections against firing or workplace discrimination. Snowden's actions have shined a spotlight on this loophole in the intelligence agency. An avenue must be created for private contractors to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. Otherwise, many would be whistleblowers will be too afraid to come forward, and those brave enough to blow the whistle will do so at the expense of their jobs, friends, family, and even their liberty.
To learn more about whistleblower claims and whistleblowers' rights, contact a Washington DC whistleblower lawyer from Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.