There is a federal statute which prohibits the naming of an Intelligence Community whistleblower. I previously wrote about that federal statute here. The statute specifically prohibits the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community from naming any whistleblower. See 50 U.S.C. Sec. 3033(g)(3)(A). But, the law probably also prevents any federal official from naming a whistleblower. Since, if a particular whistleblower is named, that will serve to chill other potential whistleblowers in the future.
Yet, the President of the United States, the chief executive, who is charged with enforcing all federal statutes, published the supposed name of the Ukraine scandal whistleblower in a tweet this last weekend. Twitter took down the tweet. See NPR news report here. The President does not even know for sure the name of the whistleblower. But, in his frustration, he may not care. If the leader of the free world cannot be persuaded to observe the law, how can we expect a mid-level manager to obey the same statute?
There is a famous passage from the play, A Man for All Seasons. William Roper suggests to Thomas More that in certain circumstances, a person should disregard the law. He can, suggests Roper, disregard the law in order to cause harm to the Devil. St. Thomas More responds, angrily:
“Oh, and when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down…d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”
Laws exist for a reason. If we ignore them, we must have a better reason than mere annoyance and impulse.