Fired Air Marshal Defends Disclosure of Sensitive Security Info

A former Federal Air Marshal who was fired by the Transportation Security Administration last April for disclosing “sensitive security information” (SSI) to the press has filed suit against the government arguing that his disclosure was protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

SSI is unclassified information regarding transportation security that is protected from disclosure by statute.

“Your release of SSI to the media was unauthorized and not protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” a TSA official wrote (pdf) to Air Marshal Robert MacLean, notifying him of his termination.

But whistleblower advocacy groups, including the Government Accountability Project and the Project on Government Oversight, have rallied to the support of Mr. MacLean.

“The Federal Air Marshal Service is in blatant violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, which protects the disclosure of unclassified information that an employee feels endangers public health and safety, and Robert certainly did that,” said Adam Miles, legislative director of GAP, in a Washington Times story.

See “Ex-air marshal to sue over ‘SSI’ label” by Audrey Hudson, Washington Times, October 30.

See also “Air marshal’s firing prompts whistleblower suit” by Stephen Losey, Federal Times, November 7.

A 2004 report from the Congressional Research Service on SSI is here (pdf). Recent Congressional action to limit the application of SSI was described in Secrecy News here.

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