“Hounding Whistleblowers Is Wrong”: David Cay Johnston

in Newsweek:

…I think Keller, my former boss, missed the underlying issue: Why assume that leakers must risk all? Why assume leakers must be prosecuted?

My Newsweek piece noted that the British Official Secrets Act included a “public interest” defense for whistleblowers, until Parliament cut it from the law in 1989.

The U.S. should enact a public interest defense. Leakers could still face prosecution, but they could try to persuade a jury that their acts were justified in defense of the republic. After all, the government is not a power unto itself, but derives its consent from the people.

And we need to overhaul the Merit Systems Protection Board, which was supposed to protect whistleblowers. Decisions have made it harder to claim whistleblower status and easier for government to go after leakers, turning what began as a shield for those who tell truths officials want to keep secret into a government sword to be used against leakers.

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