07:59 GMT06 August 2020
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    A proposed new bill to protect whistleblowers exposing corruption and lawbreaking in US government contractors would be almost completely ineffective if passed into law, says AT&T/NSA whistleblower Mark Klein

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A proposed new bill to protect whistleblowers exposing corruption and lawbreaking in US government contractors would be almost completely ineffective if passed into law, AT&T/National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Mark Klein told Sputnik.

    "Such bills are almost worthless because the protection of whistleblowers, especially in national security agencies, is a political decision which the top leaders of the two parties do not want to take," Klein said on Friday. "So this latest bill is just for show and does not touch upon real requirements."

    On Thursday, a bipartisan group of US House of Representatives members unveiled a Whistleblower Protections for Contractors Act (H.R. 5920), following movement last month on a similar bill in the US Senate.

    However, Republican and Democratic leaders in practice had repeatedly punished principled whistleblowers rather than rewarding them, Klein observed.

    "[I]n fact they would prefer to crack down on whistleblowers to make their ‘national security’ credentials shine," he stated.

    Klein cited the case of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake who went through official channels to register his complaints.

    But Drake then "was rewarded by prosecution under Republican [President George W.] Bush, while the Democratic congressional leaders would not lift a finger to help him," Klein recalled.

    Conditions for whistleblowers had gotten even worse under current President Barack Obama, Klein noted.

    "Under Obama, as you know, more whistleblowers have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act than any other US president," he said.

    The proposed new legislation would offer contractors the same legal protections that were already supposed to protect whistleblowers within US government agencies, but in practice failed to do so, Klein remarked.

    "[T]o bring contractors into the same ‘protections’ afforded regular government employees is almost a mockery," he warned.

    Klein also observed that the congressmen proposing the new legislation had not made any effort to offer amnesty to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    Snowden would have been covered by their legislation if it had been in place when exposed the massive secret NSA surveillance over the American people, Klein added.

    "I would be more convinced of their sincerity if they moved to grant Edward Snowden, a contractor, amnesty for his whistleblowing and let him come home. Instead both parties want to jail him and even kill him for so-called ‘treason,’" he said.

    Klein is a now-retired 22-year AT&T employee who, in 2006, exposed that the company had a secret room in its San Francisco facility where the NSA had been allowed to record all Internet traffic on AT&T's backbone lines.


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