What is the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act?

david-everett-strickler-196946-copy-300x195It was earlier this month when House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff issued a public statement saying that a subpoena was issued to Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire. The reason for the subpoena was that Maguire allegedly refused to release a whistleblower complaint. 

The complaint was filed under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA). That Act requires that complaints must be submitted to Congress. In his announcement, Schiff stated that he had concerns that the complaint was not forwarded to Congress in an attempt to protect the President and other officials with the administration. 

Since Schiff’s statement, a whirlwind has erupted across the country. The public wants to know not only if Maguire did something wrong, but what the ICWPA is. Below are a few of the questions that have been asked most recently, and the answers to them. 

What is the ICWPA?

Unlike other whistleblower statutes, the ICWPA does not provide protection to whistleblowers. The law was first created to provide protections for national security officials that wanted to blow the whistle and go to Congress with their allegations. Today, it merely provides a way for whistleblower to take their accusations to Congress. 

How do You File a Complaint Under the ICWPA?

If a whistleblower working for an intelligence agency wants to bring a complaint to Congress, they must first draft that complaint in writing. They must then forward the complaint to their agency’s inspector general. Within that statement, they must specifically state that they are forwarding their statement as an ICWPA complaint. After receiving the complaint, the inspector general has 14 days to determine if the complaint is credible, and if it is an urgent concern. 

Can a Whistleblower Take Action if the Inspector General Does Not Forward Their Complaint?

The ICWPA does not specifically address what should happen if the inspector general does not think a complaint is an urgent concern or does not deem it credible. However, the whistleblower can go directly to the congressional intelligence committee, but they must first tell the inspector general that they intend to do so. 

Is Maguire Breaking the Law by not Taking the Complaint to Congress?

One of the biggest questions people have after this latest story regarding the Trump administration is whether Maguire is actually breaking the law. The answer is maybe he is, and maybe he is not. He could be in violation of the ICWPA for not directing the complaint to Congress. However, if it is found that Maguire had rational reasoning for not forwarding the complaint, he would not be in violation of the law. 

Have More Questions About the ICWPA? Call Our California Qui Tam Lawyers

The law surrounding whistleblowers, regardless of the role they play before blowing the whistle, is extremely complex and confusing. If you want to blow the whistle, our San Francisco qui tam lawyers at Willoughby Brod, LLP, know you have many questions. We are here to answer them. If you have seen wrongdoing in your place of work or otherwise, call us today at (800) 427-7020 for your free evaluation so we can discuss your case. 

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