WaPo Hits Schiff With ‘Three Pinocchios’ Over Claim Whistleblower Has ‘Statutory Right’ to Anonymity

Erin Scott/Reuters

During the third day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) claimed that the whistleblower, whose complaint sparked the probe, has a “statutory right” to remain anonymous.

Schiff interrupted ranking member Devin Nunes’ (R-Calif.) line of questioning of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to suggest that the whistleblower has a “statutory right” to keep their identity a secret.

“The whistleblower has the right, a statutory right, to anonymity. These proceedings will not be used to out the whistleblower.”

Watch his comments below:

The Washington Post’s fact-checker looked into Schiff’s claim and gave him “Three Pinocchios.”

“It’s not a right spelled out in any statute. But national security experts warn that disclosing the whistleblower’s identity could expose him to danger and retribution, and chill whistleblowing in general.”

The Post notes that Schiff has claimed several times that the whistleblower statute protects the individual’s identity.

However, an examination of whistleblower laws by the paper found that there is no requirement that whistleblowers remain anonymous. But they do prohibit workplace retaliation.

“Neither the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (ICWPA) nor any related statutes have language guaranteeing anonymity for whistleblowers. These laws, in conjunction with Presidential Policy Directive 19 and Intelligence Community Directive 120, provide protections from work-related retaliation. Intelligence community whistleblowers can’t be demoted, fired or reassigned for legally reporting their concerns; their pay can’t be cut; they can’t be sent in for psychiatric exams; and their security clearance level can’t be touched.”

Federal law prohibits the inspector general from disclosing the identity of the whistleblower, but that is the extent of the statute that guarantees anonymity. The Post also notes that outing the whistleblower may not violate the ICWPA, but they may run afoul of laws prohibiting witness intimidation.

Ultimately, the Post’s fact-checker decided that there is not a “statutory right” to anonymity, but outing the whistleblower may run counter to other federal laws.

“The ICWPA doesn’t include language granting whistleblowers a right to anonymity. Neither do other statutes, directives, or court rulings that apply to the intelligence community. The argument that whistleblower-protection laws implicitly provide anonymity is more nuanced, and debatable, than what Schiff said in a nationally televised hearing. (And what good is a statutory right anyway if there’s no mechanism to enforce it?) We found the case for Three Pinocchios more compelling. Schiff says the whistleblower has a ‘statutory right’ to anonymity, and it apparently, in Schiff’s understanding, extends to congressional hearings and settings that don’t involve the inspector general. That’s debatable at best.”

In October, the Post gave Schiff “Four Pinocchios” over his claim that members of his staff had not communicated with the whistleblower, as IJR has previously reported.

Republicans have repeatedly called on Schiff to have the whistleblower testify in the impeachment probe.

What do you think?

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Craig
Member

Of course, all that presumes ( yes, I can do that ,too ) that Cinderella is a whistleblower under the statute and that he did not vitiate his putative status by contacting Schiff’s staff.

Screwtape
Member

Schiffty is a liar and asshat.

If he HAD that evidence he bragged about for 22 months and $35M+ of tax dollars WASTED on the Mueller BS, where is it? It would make this entire weak and contrived Ukraine BS unnecessary.

Sandra Lueder
Guest
Sandra Lueder

The whole reason why we are where we are is the whistleblower complaint. How can he be exempt from testifying? There has to be a way.

Tom Bodine
Member

Schiff is a pencil necked Hollyweird weenie washer with a grudge period.

Cherl
Member

Schiff makes his own facts in the little mean spirited brain of his. The purpose of the whistleblower law was to assure that person they would not fired if they came forward. If his name is the one that has been out there for a few weeks seems that he still has a job.

Marlene Marty Fowler-helfrick
Member

The name of the supposed whistleblower has already been published, and no threats have been made. As long as he doesn’t piss off Hillary he should be safe.

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