The NSA and whistleblowers: not exactly an intuitive match

We pose this question to our readers today concerning a centrally powerful federal agency: Do you automatically think of candor, an open information flow and public access to key data in any discussion focused upon the United States National Security Agency?

We didn’t think so. A recent media report on the NSA notes that the nation’s preeminent security arm “specializes in eavesdropping.” Agency author/expert James Bamford says that the NSA “has always been the most secret agency in the United States.”

Take that, CIA.

Given its reputation as a tight-lipped in-the-shadows group that doesn’t willingly suffer a public glare, it is perhaps surprising to see any news story openly profiling the agency’s recently appointed inspector general.

Here’s why: Rob Storch is noted as “a talkative guy,” and one of his favorite subjects just happens to be the important role that he believes whistleblowers should be playing in NSA affairs.

Does that sound right?

In an agency where it’s hard to get even a basic sketch of elemental-linked details, the existence of a robust whistleblower program to identify and prosecute fraud seems a bit incongruous.

Storch is adamant, though. He points to the huge amount of money linked with NSA and states that “the public has a right to know how its funds are being spent.”

Time will tell, of course, whether Storch’s expressed enthusiasm will result in more individuals coming forward to spotlight wrongdoing and play a key role in subsequent government investigations. “The fear of retaliation is real,” says one inside commentator.

Yet Storch seems optimistic, proactive and ready to go. The above-cited news report from National Public Radio cites the IG’s new website that went online just week detailing the rights and protections of federal whistleblowers.