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Monday, December 20, 2010 

Issa flip flops on whistleblower protection


Continuing his efforts to spike Congressional efforts to keep working, Darrell Issa flip-flopped dramatically last week on whistleblower legislation. After spending most of his congressional career calling for more transparency in government, Issa balked on new protections for whistleblowers that he had previously supported, using Wikileaks as cover for obstructing the outgoing Democratic majority:
But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who had favored the legislation, now thinks it should not be considered during the waning days of the lame-duck session.
Citing "new areas of concern that have been raised by the WikiLeaks" disclosures, Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Issa, said the congressman believes the measure should be considered next year, when Republicans control the House.
The irony here is that as legitimate avenues for exposing not classified information but valid, documented concerns about government operations are blocked, the more attractive routes such as WikiLeaks become.
Issa's conversion from supporting the legislation to wanting it held until next year amounts to a major blow for the bill's immediate prospects.
Highlighting the irony, more than 60 good government groups sent a letter to Issa focusing on the specific need for this sort of legislation in the wake of Wikileaks:
S. 372 will prevent leaks and strengthen our national security. It creates a safe, responsible channel to work within the system, when none currently exists. Further, S. 372 does not under any circumstances protect public disclosures of classified information. Nor does it protect disclosures of sensitive sources and methods information to any unauthorized person or entity. 
Many issues that have been raised by WikiLeaks have nothing to do with this bill and efforts to draw a connection between WikiLeaks and this good government measure are misguided. However, S. 372 is an anti-leaks measure.
Issa is hardly even bothering with pretense here. Blocking progress of this legislation it explicitly at odds with the principles of oversight and open government that he claims to support. At the least, it again reveals him as a partisan before he's a legislator. At worst, it also emphasizes a fundamental dishonesty about trying to make government work more effectively.


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