Steven Aftergood: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) – Single-Handedly Forces Flawed Intelligence Bill to Remove Anti-Leak Provisions Prejudicial to Public Interest

Civil Society, Government, Ineptitude, IO Deeds of War
Steven Aftergood
Steven Aftergood

SENATE PASSES INTELLIGENCE BILL WITHOUT ANTI-LEAK MEASURES

The Senate passed the FY2013 intelligence authorization act on December 28 after most of the controversial provisions intended to combat leaks had been removed.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the bill was revised in order to expedite its passage.

“Since the bill was reported out,” she said, “the Committee has received thoughtful comments from our colleagues, media organizations, and from organizations that advocate for greater governmental transparency. As a result of these comments, and technical suggestions received from the Executive Branch, we have decided to remove ten of the twelve sections in the title of the original bill that addressed unauthorized disclosures of classified information so that we might ensure enactment this year of the important other provisions of the bill.”

More precisely, the revision of the bill could be attributed to the intervention of Sen. Ron Wyden, who all but single-handedly blocked its enactment after it was approved in Committee last July by a vote of 14-1, with only Wyden dissenting.  Its passage by the full Congress seemed to be assured, but in November, Sen. Wyden placed a hold on the bill to prevent its adoption by unanimous consent.

The provisions that were removed from the final bill included restrictions on background briefings for the press, limits on media commentary by former government officials, and authority for the DNI to unilaterally revoke the pension of a suspected leaker. (“Anti-Leak Measures in Senate Bill Target Press, Public,” Secrecy News, July 31, 2012).

Sen. Wyden opposed most of the anti-leak measures, he explained on December 21, “because, in my view, they would have harmed first amendment rights, led to less informed public debate about national security issues, and undermined the due process rights of intelligence agency employees, without actually enhancing national security.”

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