The Washington Post has awarded House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff three “Pinocchios” for his claim that the Ukraine whistleblower possesses a “statutory right” to remain anonymous.
That three-Pinocchio rating denotes “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”
Schiff has made the claim on multiple occasions, during both closed-door depositions and a public hearing, The Post reported.
It’s not true. No federal statutes give whistleblowers the right to anonymity.
“It’s not a right spelled out in any statute,” Post reporter Salvador Rizzo wrote.
“Neither the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (ICWPA) nor any related statutes have language guaranteeing anonymity for whistleblowers.”
While the ICWPA establishes that “intelligence community whistleblowers can’t be demoted, fired or reassigned for legally reporting their concerns,” it does not establish a right for their names to remain concealed, the outlet said.
“Nothing in the ICWPA expressly protects the anonymity of a complainant, or provides sanctions for someone who discloses it,” Stephen I. Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law told The Post.
Federal law does prohibit the inspector general of the intelligence community from releasing a whistleblower’s name without his consent — but that’s a narrow protection.
Schiff’s claim is much broader — that whistleblowers receive a blanket statutory guarantee of anonymity.
The California Democrat has made concealing the identity of the whistleblower an issue during his committee’s recent hearings, advising witnesses that the committee’s purpose is not to uncover the whistleblower’s identity.
On Tuesday, the California Democrat chimed in while Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the committee, was questioning a witness, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Schiff reminded Vindman that “we need to protect the whistleblower.”
Watch the back-and-forth exchange about the whistleblower between Rep. Devin Nunes and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. (House Intel Chair Adam Schiff interjected to warn the witness to not reveal any identifying information about the whistleblower) https://t.co/0GpliXENHJ pic.twitter.com/XyYuclGN9X
— POLITICO (@politico) November 19, 2019
Nunes, also of California, had been asking Vindman, who works for the National Security Council, if he had spoken to anyone outside the White House about President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Vindman answered that he had done so, prompting a follow-up from the congressman.
“What agencies were these officials with?” he asked.
When the Army officer identified one of the officials as only an “individual in the intelligence community,” Nunes pressed further.
“As you know, the intelligence community has 17 different agencies. What agency was this individual from?”
That’s when Schiff interjected with a declaration that “we need to protect the whistleblower.”
“If the witness has a good faith belief that this may reveal the identity of the whistleblower, that is not the purpose that we are here for and I want to advise the witness accordingly,” Schiff said.
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