WHISTLEBLOWER ANALYSIS 12
Atpresent, organizations need to understand that both internal andexternal environments of the organizations are subject to change atany point of time hence, the need for strategic management. Onecritical area that has featured in the current environment is theneed to use ethical approaches. Over the years, enterprises haveexperienced various unethical challenges such as trade secrets andproperty rights, among others that continue to affect theirperformance. The conflict of interest, COI, in many companies, hasgiven rise to financial and operational scandals. The issue is commonin both for-profit and non-profit firms. In fact, it cuts across bothprivate and public companies. Despite the wide-ranging incidences ofunethical practices, there emerge individuals who are ready to risktheir lives to disclose information about unethical and unwarrantedactivities in enterprises. The concept of whistle-blowing is commonin the current society to expose practices that do not reflect thereal intentions and goals of institutions.
Thepaper seeks to examine a whistleblower who revealed the mistreatmentof terrorist suspects by the American security officers. JohnKiriakou, a former analyst and case officer with the CIA, revealedthe torturous events of suspected terrorists. He was among thegovernment officials who exposed the actions of the CIA such aswaterboarding. Kiriakou reported that the American security officialsused inhumane methods to cross-examine Al Qaeda prisoners.Waterboarding is regarded as torture and abuse of human rights. Helater pleaded guilty for disclosing classified information about aCIA officer in 2012. The action by the federal authorities puts toquestion the significance and extent of whistleblowing. Is thepractice ethical? Do the government or private entities need todisclose inappropriate actions, yet they are crucial partners in theadministration of justice and fairness?
Thesisstatement:Adherence to ethical guidelines, honesty, and accuracy are necessaryfor a whistleblower to enhance the relationship between the partiesand institutional objectives.
Attimes, whistleblowers face difficulties in disclosing valuableinformation under their custody. The difficulties are exacerbated bythe fact that the disclosure is termed illegal or unethical by theparties involved. The culprits assert that a whistleblower isdishonest to one or more parties. In the case of John Kiriakou, thedifficulties and interest parties are numerous as it touches oncritical matters of the American national safety. Security organs,not just in the US, but also around the world have a tendency toconceal information on their spending, misdeeds, and classifiedinformation that can jeopardize the national defense. The securityagencies attempt to conceal information that negates the spirit andvalues of the constitution and human rights by working closely withother organs of the government. The case of John Kiriakou was part ofthe classified safety information in the government’s effort tofight corruption (Lopez, LaVan, & Katz, 2014).
Inmost cases, whistleblowers are not liable for investigatingactivities that touch on fraudulent dealings. They are not supposedto provide corrective measures, but to offer information aboutinappropriate transactions within an institution. The most suitableprocedure is for the employees or the whistleblowers to provide theinformation to the right personnel within the institution for action.The appropriate protocol serves to protect not only the interests ofan organization, but also safeguards the classified information(Lopez, LaVan, & Katz, 2014). The issue is critical when touchingon matters dealing with the national security. We observe thatKiriakou failed to follow the procedure hence, undermined theethical requirements when reporting such an activity.
Kiriakouspent most of his career life working as an investigation officerwith the Central Intelligence Agency. He worked in several stationssuch as Middle East, Bahrain, and CIA Headquarters, among others. Itis noteworthy that he was substantially involved in terroristmatters hence, had first-hand information on the happenings withinthe different areas. In particular, the treatment of terror suspectsby the American officials was critical in informing hiswhistleblowing role. After the 9/11 attack, Kiriakou was appointed asthe lead officer in counterterrorism operations in Pakistan where heis said to have led many military raids. The actions resulted in thecapture of al-Qaeda fighters and sympathizers who were later used bythe officers to gather information about terrorist groupings in theMiddle East. He later resigned from the CIA, in 2004, after which heengaged several private companies. Kiriakou was recruited to work asa terrorism consultant for ABC News in 2008. He also held theinvestigator position with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Thedisclosure of torture for terrorist fighters happened in 2007 duringan interview with the ABC News. During the interview, Kiriakouexplained how he was involved in the capture of a top official in theal-Qaeda hierarchy, Abu Zubaydah. He claimed that he did not witnessany form of torture through waterboarding, although he confirmed tohave gathered the information from close associates at the CIA. Themethod was used by the CIA to extract answers related to extremism.The interview and allegations by Kiriakou were repeated severally in2007, with some calling for the disclosure of the misdeeds by thestate officials. He later became a regular guest on matters thattouched on terrorism and security in leading media outlets. At in onepoint in 2009, he alleged that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded for over83 times, although no credible or reasonable information wasgathered. He was skeptical about the usefulness of informationcollected from the tortured suspects, at a time when the Americanreputation was already ruined. The former CIA agent believed that themethods used by the agents to gather intelligence on terrorism wereharsh. The whistleblower maintained that he could not disclose theinformation through the internal means at the CIA or other governmentagencies as they were aware of the actions. Further, he believed thatthe government would not do much to protect the victims of torture.In 2013, he published an editorial warning other individuals such asEdward Snowden to remain apprehensive about the closeness andtrickery measures used by the FBI officials (Kiriakou, 2015).
Followingthe revelation, he underwent a trial for divulging confidentialinformation in 2012. The court found him culpable and indicted himfor infringing the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. He wasalso sentenced for violating the Espionage Act as well as for lyingto the Publications Review Board of the CIA to have his bookpublished. Primarily, he pleaded innocence for the disclosure,although he later agreed to his guilt for releasing confidentialinformation to the media (Zeman, 2015). As such, he agreed to haveviolated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Kiriakou wassentenced to 30 months in 2013 for violation of the various legalrequirements among the intelligence community.
Theissue on whistleblowing generates mixed reactions regarding ethicalconsideration. Much as the practice has been used to help in theexposure of fraudulent activities whistleblowing requires properexamination of the consequences. In the case of Kiriakou, it wasunethical to be the whistleblower. As a former CIA agent, heunderstood the workings of the institution, including the rules andlaws that guide the operations. The unethical element comes due tohis poor regard for professional and work ethics (Zeman, 2015 Theagents working intelligence institutions undergo oath of secrecy dueto the nature of the work they handle on a daily basis. Theintelligence community operates in secrecy through classifiedinformation that one should not reveal to other parties, includingthe media. As such, Kiriakou’s choice to give the information tothe press was inappropriate and against the rules guiding the agency(Norris, 2013). Nonetheless, one may consider that the agent wasright in revealing the underhand dealings of the government. In fact,the element of torture through waterboarding is an abuse of the humanrights. Ethically, one may argue that Kiriakou did the right toinform the public on matters happening beyond their eyes.
Reasonsfor Leaking the Documents to Various Media Resources
Itis clear that the CIA operates equidistant from the executive andlegislative arms. Despite congressional oversight and executiveauthority, the agency’s operations are classified. Conflictsbetween these bodies will continue to play out since the agency hasthe responsibility of protecting the interests of the US. It isdesirable that the principles and frameworks of the CIA meet thedemands of the country and the global environment. Since the creationof the agency, there has been minimal interference by the politicalclass. As such, Kiriakou understood that the secret activities of theAmerican security agents would not be disclosed to the public. Hefelt that the media channel to reveal the information as it was proneto less bias (Kiriakou, 2015).
Kiriakoualso considered the fact that the procedures guiding whistleblowingare not evident in the intelligence community. It, thus, meant thatit was hard to attain his objectives by going through the stipulatedinternal channels. At times, whistleblowers get victimized by theaccused as a way to drop the information. A similar fate would havefallen on Kiriakou in his attempts to contact the CIA agents. He alsobelieved that the matter would assist in enhancing his repute as ahuman rights activist. Previously, other individuals had used suchopportunities to engage in advocacy on certain issues affecting thesociety (Kiriakou, 2015).
Boththe whistleblower and the accused are adversely affected by thereporting. In the case above, the CIA faced condemnation from humanrights activists for engaging in appropriate methods to gatherinformation from terror suspects. The agency works in secrecy toconceal most of its activities. As such, a move to make known theiractivities are a threat to the national security thereby,undermining its obligations. On a positive note, the agency used theopportunity to improve the procedures guiding the conduct of itsmembers. The employees can now point out issues that they areuncomfortable besides engaging the senior officials. CIA is animportant agency that requires statutory restrictions to help guidethe conduct of the staff.
Thewhistleblower, Kiriakou, faced legal charges for his conduct todisclose classified information. In particular, the 2012 trialculminated with a 30 months indictment. The court found him guilty oftaking part in activities without complying with several legislationsguiding the operations of the CIA. He did not get any protection fromthe government for participating in whistleblowing. Kiriakou engagedin unethical approach in whistleblowing, although the action couldnot be wished away. Further, the action ruined his relationship withthe former employer in that they cannot easily seek his services forfear of a similar occurrence.
Theforeign, public, and security policies fronted the government toguide the operations of the CIA. In view of this, the executive hasthe authority to influence the scope of the intelligence informationfrom any quarter. Being the chief protector of the people, theexecutive is likely to usurp its power to enhance the security of itscitizens and assets around the world. The CIA, consequently, has tooperate with the interests of the executive at heart. The bodyrequires institutional support to tackle their objectives inrealistic approach that would inform the policies of the legislativesystem, executive, and security organs. It is, thus, important toconsider work and professional ethics when reporting on matterstouching on the CIA (Norris, 2013).
Personally,I consider that Kiriakou was not right in disclosing classifiedinformation, well aware of the procedures. Having worked with theagency for more than 20 years, he understood the effects of thedisclosure to the agency and the implications in the country’sfight against extremism. The information did not even help thegovernment in its effort to curb terrorism. Kiriakou had a chance toinform the relevant bodies such as the FBI or the Senate committeefor further actions. In fact, in his submissions during the interviewwith the ABC News, Kiriakou argued that the government will not acton the information. People within the security agencies understandthe adverse effects of disclosing classified information. Besidesnon-compliance to professional and work ethics, Kiriakou betrayedclose associates and civilians who worked as journalists. As such, itis necessary for the whistleblower to avoid unnecessary and incorrectallegations. Individuals who provide baseless accusations should bedisciplined or made to face the courts (Spath, 2015).
Themanagement of conflicts can be realized through avoidance, healthycompetition, ethical rules and disclosure of critical information. Itis important to have flexible legal provisions have removed hurdlesin the regulation of businesses as well as the improvement ofbusiness standards. The legal and political frameworks have tried tohelp in managing risks through harmonization of existing laws. In thebusiness front, it is important for international operators to have abroad understanding of culture, management styles, and culturalorientations in the country of operation. By defining the variousethical dimensions, firms can cluster the different groups to improvethe processes and reduce incidences of inappropriate disclosure andunethical practices (Spath, 2015).
WhistleblowingPolicy at the CIA
Theadoption of moral practices, moderate disclosure, and effectivepolicies can help in preventing the adverse effects arising fromwhistleblowers, especially within the government institutions. It isnotable that public agencies such as the CIA and FBI operate undercertain levels of secrecy that are largely provided for in theconstitution. At times, cases of misuse of the laws are evident asthe highlighted above. Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 wascreated by the US federal government to help in the protection ofindividuals who report misconduct and wrong practices within theirorganizations. Nonetheless, the legislation was not targeting thesecurity or public entities, but aimed at private institutions. Mostof the cases take place in for-profit organizations since there ishigh tendency for unethical practices (Benkler, 2014).
TheCIA does not condone forms of whistleblowing but requires aggrievedindividuals to forward their complaints or queries through theinternal mechanism. Whistleblowers are not protected by theinstitutional policy as several laws govern the disclosure ofinformation about the agency. The multiple laws governing theoperations of the agency makes it hard for whistleblowers to discloseinformation without resultant adverse effects. Due to the nature ofits functions, the body operates under different external checks.Ideally, it functions under secrecy. Over the years, the agency hascome under criticism due to the manner it handles its function. Afterthe 9/11 attack on the U.S., the House committee recommended anoverhaul of the security-related bodies in the country. Previously,the agency had minimal government control or public scrutiny.Nonetheless, both the legislature and executive exert minimalsupervision and control over the activities of the organization(Benkler, 2014).
TheAmerican security and intelligence services play a vital role instopping terrorist attacks against Americans in foreign countries.Ordinarily, the intelligence community works in secret with thepublic getting limited information about their operations. The CIA isa bureau whose operations are strictly guarded. The body is said torun various offices in the U.S. and around the world. The number ofemployees, assets, and budget are not well-known. While the NationalSecurity Act of 1947 affirms that the Congress should be informedabout the intelligence operations, the executive only notifies thecongressional committees as opposed to the full house. Corruption,abuse of human rights, and fraud cover-up take place in thegovernment circles. Most of these vices are never reported since theofficials conceal crucial information or manipulate documents. Thegovernment should work in close collaboration with non-state actorsto protect the whistleblowers.
Thecase of Kiriakou in whistleblowing serves vital lessons to theAmerican security and legislative systems in the country. The casecommunicates the importance of embracing the right values that shapeour destiny for the better. Much as the security agencies work underthe level of secrecy, there is great need to ensure moderateadherence to human rights and social values. It is evident thatwhistleblowing generates ethical concerns among different parties inthe private and public sector. Devoid of a certain level ofdisclosure, the society is likely to experience the emergence ofvices that adversely affect our well-being. At the end of the day,the members of the community remain the biggest losers when suchvices ruin a country. We need to adopt principles that embracetransparency, accountability, and the rule of law in oursocio-political engagements. There are important values that theAmerican society ought to take to enhance their socio-politicalprogression. The values require the leaders and citizens to showgreat respect for their institutions. Whistleblowing should not beused by individuals for self-interest but need to be guided byethical guidelines.
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Zeman,J. (2015). Slender Reed upon Which to Rely: Amending the EspionageAct to Protect Whistleblowers, A. WayneL. Rev.,61,149.