Rep. Ted Lieu creates 'how to' guide to help whistleblowers leak to the press

February 17, 2017
In The News

On the day that President Donald Trump railed against insider leaks in a spontaneous and free-wheeling press conference, two Democratic congressmen published a guide to help federal whistleblowers get information from within the administration to the public.

The guide, written by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.), is divided into two sections. The first is called "Know Your Rights" and informs government employees of how the law can be applied to protect whistleblowers through the First Amendment and the Whistleblower Protection Act.

The second section is called "Know Your Options" and explains how potential leakers can distribute information to the media while proactively securing their communications. The authors recommend the use of encrypted messaging application Signal, for example.

Trump’s administration, although only weeks old, has been fraught with leaks. The most recent revealed that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, once a trusted member of Trump’s inner circle, had engaged in phone calls and discussed foreign policy with a Russian ambassador. Ultimately, it ended in his forced resignation.

Flynn's resignation overshadowed Thursday’s reactionary press conference performance, as the president condemned ongoing classified information leaks while also describing the leaks as “fake news” when scolding the media. Mentioning his “good ratings” a number of times, Trump has since posted a suggestive media bias survey on the Republican Party's website.

In attempts to put a stop the plague of leaks and opposition, Trump ordered a clamp down on public information and social media in the week after his inauguration. Still, news agencies as recently as Wednesday reported that inside sources, intelligence community officials, confirmed that they have withheld sensitive information from the White House for fear it would be leaked.

The whistleblowing guide published by the two Democrats, therefore, will likely not be received well in the White House. Indeed, Rep. Lieu is a particularly fierce and outspoken critic of Trump, a privacy advocate with a background in computer science. It’s a timely and explicit act of defiance against a government continuing to bleed its secrets.