Two recent events have focused on this issue. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Robert J. MacLean, a former Air Marshal who leaked restricted information to a reporter about an agency decision to not send air marshals on long flights in order to save hotel costs, overtime, etc. When his role was eventually uncovered, MacLean was fired for violating an agency regulation making it illegal to disclose specific details of aviation security measures. The Supreme Court determined that regulations are not laws and that MacLean was protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act. The Merit Systems Protection Board formally designated MacLean a protected Federal employee whistleblower. The ruling became final when DHS dropped all appeals.
Also in 2015, following a guilty verdict by a federal jury in Alexandria VA, Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who leaked classified information to a reporter regarding a covert operation to derail Iran’s nuclear program, was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison. Although Sterling denies being the source, and the reporter could not be forced to testify, his contract with the CIA was terminated. His attorneys complained that General David Petraeus had just been given a sentence of 2 years probation and a fine for basically the same offense: disclosure of classified information.
Answer the following question.
So what about MacLean and Sterling? Are they heroes who should be afforded protection under the Whistleblower law? Or are they traitors who should be reviled for leaking sensitive data based on personal motives? Do these cases help or hurt the case for the Gang of Eight? What do you think?
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