CRLG Managing Attorney Andrew Bakaj and Colleague Mark Zaid Set Intelligence Community & PPD-19 Precedent
February 27, 2017
On February 22, 2017, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, via the Law Office of Mark S. Zaid, P.C., obtained a decision with the Intelligence Community Inspector General (“ICIG”), expanding protection for Intelligence Community whistleblowers. This is a true milestone as the PPD-19 national security whistleblower reprisal investigation process is being refined after being established in 2012.
As of today, members of the Intelligence Community, or those otherwise covered under PPD-19 – whether they are federal employees or contractors – are protected from reprisal for disclosing federal EEO violations within the Agency they serve. Here, the Central Intelligence Agency Office of Inspector General (“CIA OIG”) initially declined to investigate the allegations of reprisal, citing that the whistleblower’s actions did not constitute protected activity under PPD-19. The issue was appealed to the ICIG, which reversed the CIA OIG decision. The allegations are now being sent back to CIA OIG for full investigation on the merits.
“There’s always complaints about how the Intelligence Community lacks whistleblower protections, and on many levels that’s absolutely true,” says Mark Zaid. “The system most certainly needs to be improved. But that doesn’t mean that what exists should be completely disregarded. Those in the classified community have a legal AND moral obligation to first try to work through the system.”
“Ultimately what this means is that we forced the issue to get both clarity and broader protections for those who protect our nation in silence,” says Andrew Bakaj. “Just as important is that this allows us to advocate for clients who serve as contractors within the community by challenging an adverse security clearance decision that may have been taken in reprisal for disclosing EEO violations. Many times when a contractor’s clearance is suspended they lose their job, removing their ability to challenge the adverse clearance decision. This absolutely changes the paradigm and options available to members of the Intelligence Community.”
“This came about in a case with CIA so it is a very significant development,” says Mark Zaid. “Small steps over time lead to big journeys.”
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Andrew Bakaj is the Managing Attorney with Compass Rose Legal Group and a Special Of Counsel attorney with the Law Office of Mark S. Zaid. Mr. Bakaj developed the legal and investigative framework for national security whistleblower reprisal cases within the Department of Defense and, subsequently, the PPD-19 whistleblower reprisal investigation program within the Central Intelligence Agency.
Mark Zaid has been representing clients within the Intelligence Community, particularly whistleblowers, for over two decades. Together with Mr. Bakaj they are handling multiple clients with PPD-19 appeals.