Today, GAP and nearly 30 coalition partners sent a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer in support of the Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act, which would strengthen protections for military whistleblowers, including sexual assault survivors.

In support of these overdue reforms, the letter states:

Over the past 27 years, the [Military Whistleblower Protection Act] has been periodically updated to provide greater protections for whistleblowers. However, these changes have not kept pace with similar increases in protections in civilian whistleblower statutes, and as a result, servicemembers are more likely to face retaliation for reporting illegal activities. That is unacceptable.  

The bill, introduced today by Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus Members Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), provides a comprehensive overhaul of existing law so that its due process structure for enforcement is on parity with other whistleblower laws. Specifically, the legislation –

•    permits legal challenges to retaliatory investigations;

•    permits the Inspector General to issue a 90-day “stay” of alleged retaliation while it is investigated;

•    guarantees an administrative due process hearing at the Board of Correction of Military Records for fully investigated whistleblower claims;

•    applies the civilian Whistleblower Protection Act burdens of proof against retaliation;

•    strengthens independence by allowing servicemembers to have an investigation by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (OIG), instead of by a Service Inspector General;

•    requires OIG investigative reports to consider discipline for retaliation; and

•    establishes general military administrative justice due process reforms.

In closing, the letter states:

These reforms are critical and long overdue. Our servicemembers should not live in fear of retaliation for speaking out. We pledge to do all we can to support the Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act, and thank you again for your longstanding commitment to protecting military whistleblowers.

In addition to GAP, letter signatories include:

ACORN8, African American Institute for Policy Studies and Planning, Greenville SC, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Library Association, Center for Science and Democracy (Union of Concerned Scientists), Community Research, Drum Majors for Truth, Federal Ethics Center, Golden Badge, Human Rights Watch, International Association of Whistleblowers, Just Foreign Policy, Liberty Coalition, MuckRock, National Forum On Judicial Accountability, National Network of State Community Councils, National Taxpayers Union,, Organizations Associating for the Kind of Change America Really Needs (OAK), Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Restored (POPULAR), Project On Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Sunlight Foundation Taxpayers Protection Alliance, TechFreedom, Whistleblower Support Fund, and whistleblower Kevin  R. Downing, former Captain, US Army Reserves

The full letter can be viewed here

The Congressional press release can be viewed here