Intell Comittees’ Leak Proposal Ignores the Source

Steve Aftergood over at Secrecy News has posted a great write-up and analysis of the proposal to handle unauthorized leaks of national security information that the leadership of the Intelligence Committees' plans to attach to the Fiscal Year (FY) Intelligence Authorization bill. The proposal will be a part of the Senate version of the bill, which will be released in full as early as Friday, July 27. Unfortunately, none of the twelve anti-leak provisions that will be included in the bill address persistent problems that aggravate the balance between the public's right to know and legitimate security concerns.

A successful effort to handle unauthorized leaks of information should begin with an effort to reduce the size of the classified universe and restore the integrity of our national security classification system. At a minimum, Congress must address:

  1. Reducing Overclassification. Estimates by experts in the field of national security of the amount of information that is overclassified by the federal government range from 50% – 90%, and more is unnecessarily classified. Lumping useless information in with information that merits rigorous protection ultimately degrades the integrity of the classification system — contributing to more leaks. 
  2. Protecting Whistleblowers. Government employees with knowledge of wrongdoing involving classified information should have safe, legal channels by which to disclose classified information that exposes such issues.

Once again we urge Congress to give any proposal to stop leaks the utmost attention with careful consideration and maximum public input. Rushing a bill through to passage runs a very real risk of writing into law policies that not only do not work but also endanger other critical national priorities.

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