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Bob Haefele, a lawyer with Motley Rice LLC, which represents the September 11 families, said SSI is used to “protect weaknesses in the system from disclosure, rather than fixing the weakness.”

Adam Miles, legislative director for the Government Accountability Project, said Mr. MacLean’s case is on “solid ground.”

“The Federal Air Marshal Service is in blatant violation of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, which protects the disclosure of unclassified information that an employee feels endangers public health and safety, and Robert certainly did that,” Mr. Miles said.