The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998[1], amending the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 and the Inspector General Act of 1978, sets forth a procedure for employees and contractors of specified federal intelligence agencies to report complaints or information to Congress about serious problems involving intelligence activities.

Under the provisions of section 8H applicable to the FBI, an FBI employee or contractor who intends to report to Congress a complaint or information of “urgent concern” involving an intelligence activity may report the complaint or information to the DOJ Office of the Inspector General. Within a 14-day period, the OIG must determine “whether the complaint or information appears credible,” and upon finding the information to be credible, thereafter transfer the information to the Attorney General who then submits the information to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. If the OIG does not deem the complaint or information to be credible or does not transmit the information to the Attorney General, the employee may provide the information directly to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. However, the employee must first inform the OIG of his or her intention to contact the intelligence committees directly and must follow the procedures specified in the Act.

The Act defines "urgent concern" as a "serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operations of an intelligence activity involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters"; a false statement to Congress; and taking or threatening to take certain personnel actions in retaliation for making the report to Congress.

In 2006 Thomas Gimble, Acting Inspector General, Department of Defense, stated before the House Committee on Government Reform that the ICWPA is a 'misnomer' and that more properly the Act protects the communication of classified information to Congress.[2]

As of February 14, 2006 -- the eighth year of the statute's enactment -- the DOJ OIG had not received any complaints under this statute.

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