Appeals court upholds US whistleblower law secrecy

AP News
Posted: Mar 28, 2011 5:17 PM
Appeals court upholds US whistleblower law secrecy

A divided federal appeals court in Virginia has upheld the secrecy provision of a federal whistleblower law.

The 2-1 ruling Monday by a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the American Civil Liberties Union's claim that the secrecy mandate violates the First Amendment.

The dispute involves the False Claims Act, which allows citizens to collect damages for reporting contract fraud against the U.S. government. The law requires that such complaints remain secret for at least 60 days while the government investigates. The ACLU claims the government has used the law to keep allegations of Iraq war profiteering and other fraud hidden from the public, sometimes for years.

However, the appeals court's majority said the government has a compelling interest in protecting the integrity of investigations.