Congressional Record: August 2, 2006 (Senate)
Page S8612-S8614


      By Mr. BOND (for himself, Mr. Lott, Mr. Chambliss, Mr. Stevens, 
        Mr. Cochran, Mr. Burns, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Santorum, Mr. Cornyn, 
        Mr. Domenici, Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Alexander):
  S. 3774. A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit 
the unauthorized disclosure of classified information; to the Committee 
on the Judiciary.
  Mr. BOND. Mr. President, I rise to talk about a related area of 
security. The Defense appropriations bill is extremely important, but I 
believe that there is another matter we should be considering. I 
appreciate the courtesy of the managers of the bill for allowing me to 
present this.
  This is legislation that was passed by the Intelligence Committees in 
2000. It

[[Page S8613]]

had been adopted by unanimous vote, but it was vetoed at the time. This 
bill very simply provides, for the first time, a simple, clear 
statement of penalties for Government employees and contractors with 
access to classified information, who have signed agreements to keep it 
classified, who knowingly and willfully leak America's most important 
secrets. Over the past few years, we have seen unauthorized disclosures 
of classified information at an alarming rate. Each one of the leaks 
gravely increases the threat to our national security and makes it 
easier for our enemies to achieve their murderous and destructive 
plans. Each leak is a window of opportunity for terrorists to discover 
our sources and methods. Each violation of trust guarantees chaos and 
violence in the world.
  Time and time again, we have witnessed leaks that told our enemies 
not only that we were watching them and listening to them but how and 
whom we are cooperating with and how we are getting the information. 
These leaks have threatened to erode the trust and confidence of the 
American people and the members of the intelligence community, as well 
as our allies, built upon years of work. What if during World War II, 
Americans had seen a leak of the Enigma Program that allowed us to 
decipher enemy communications and if major media outlets had joined in 
blowing our most sensitive secret?
  Over the past year, there has arisen an apparent absence of fear of 
punishment in regard to arbitrary divulging of classified information. 
These are individuals who took solemn vows to protect our Nation. In 
taking a vow to protect classified information, one should acknowledge 
that being privy to it establishes a solemn trust. I and all of my 
colleagues are under obligations as Senators. And as a member of the 
Intelligence Committee, I have a higher standard to protect classified 
information. Having that access is a privilege and a trust. There are a 
number of stinging examples of how these leaks have compromised 
security. I will not call attention to them because the people who are 
benefiting from knowing the leaks don't need to know more about it. But 
a litany of intelligence officials over the past year have told me how 
much it hurts their efforts.
  The former Director of the CIA, Porter Goss, stated in open session 
that there has been ``very severe'' damage to our national security. He 
repeated ``very severe.'' I asked the same question to current CIA 
Director Michael Hayden in his open confirmation hearing about the 
leaks and he said: We have applied the Darwinian theory to terrorists. 
Unfortunately, we are only catching the dumb ones because the smart 
ones who watch the media understand what we are doing and will escape. 
And many others have repeated that refrain. That was before the leakage 
of our ability to track terrorist financing efforts occurred in papers.
  As I have traveled throughout the world and talked with cooperating 
overseas officials, they have asked me why they should continue to work 
with us when we can't keep secrets. Our intelligence chiefs abroad tell 
me that sources now think twice before speaking with U.S. officers. 
They fear their information leaking. They said: How can I give you this 
information if it might be leaked?
  What they are really worried about is that leaking their information 
will identify them and put themselves and their families at risk. This 
is something which we cannot tolerate if we are to get the intelligence 
we need.
  This is language which has been passed before. It is very simple. It 
just applies to former or retired officers or employees of the United 
States or any person who has authorized access and who has agreed to 
keep it confidential.
  First, let me be clear about a couple of things this legislation does 
not do. It only affects Government employees and contractors who have 
signed a nondisclosure agreement. It doesn't affect the media, 
businesses, or private citizens.
  Second, it only regards information properly and appropriately 
classified, not frivolously or inappropriately classified. If there is 
an overclassification, then I think the courts would easily throw out 
the prosecution. It doesn't cover the new categories of information 
developed since 9/11, like sensitive but unclassified or unclassified 
for official use only. It limits the subject of prosecution to those 
knowingly and willfully disclosing to someone they know is not 
authorized to receive it. It is not a ``gotcha'' tool; it is for 
deliberate leakers.
  Well, a Federal judge has pointed out that there is no one piece of 
legislation that brings together all of our outdated and disparate 
provisions on the law. The judge has stated that ``the merits of the 
law are committed to Congress. If it is not sensible, it ought to be 
changed.'' This is why we are doing this.
  Some of my colleagues said it is an insult that you have to pass a 
bill to protect classified information. One said:

       If they have taken an oath, they don't need the threat of 
     law hanging over them to maintain that oath.

  My answer to that one is, where have you been over the past year? I 
am sorry to inform you that some people need laws to hold them in 
check. More important, they need prosecution under those laws. There is 
nothing like an orange jumpsuit on a deliberate leaker to discourage 
others from going down that path.
  I have heard that some say Attorney General Ashcroft recommended that 
the executive branch not pursue leaks legislation. That is true, but 
not because it wasn't needed. He said that the onus is on the executive 
branch to take care to instill a sense of loyalty in its employees to 
track down leakers and to prevent leakers. He was right. He also said 
that leaks legislation had value.
  I am more than happy to work with my colleagues. I believe it is 
appropriate to have this debate at a time when Osama bin Laden and al-
Zawahiri are warning the United States of future terrorist attacks. It 
is important to provide protection so that our men and women in the 
field in places of active hostility, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, can 
be protected by intelligence that is not compromised.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a letter dated 
31 July from the Association for Intelligence Officers, a group of 
4,500 current and former intelligence military and homeland security 
officers supporting passage of this legislation.
       There being no objection, the material was ordered to be 
     printed in the Record, as follows:

                                      Association for Intelligence


                                        McLean, VA, July 31, 2006.
     Hon. Christopher Bond,
     Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,
     U.S. Senate.
       Dear Senator Bond: On behalf of the Association for 
     Intelligence Officers, a 31-year organization of over 4,500 
     current and former intelligence, military and homeland 
     security officers, I write in support of your intention to 
     introduce a bill concerning prohibition of the disclosure of 
     classified information by individuals who sign secrecy 
     agreements. We concur that such unauthorized actions have 
     damaged national security.
       We note that as early as the 2001 fiscal year, the Congress 
     included such provisions in the Intelligence Authorization 
     Act, but the legislation did not prevail over presidential 
     veto. Since that time, no substantive remedy has appeared.
       We understand that the proposed legislation will apply only 
     to government employees and civilian contractors who promised 
     to uphold the secrecy contracts they signed. It will not 
     cover others, such as journalists, nor others not working for 
     the federal government or contractors. It would prohibit only 
     knowing and willful disclosure, so that innocent, 
     inadvertent, or accidental disclosures would not be covered.
       We believe there has been an increasing cascade of damaging 
     disclosures of classified information such that a crisis now 
     exists. With no serious punishments nor enforcement of 
     penalties, we lack any meaningful impediment to this growing 
     willful harm to the national interest. As a result, the leaks 
     grow--essentially sabotaging our own intelligence and 
     military operations and causing the deaths of our troops and 
     intelligence operatives. Our allies, understandably, are 
     losing trust that we can engage in mutual operations and 
     hesitate to share crucial intelligence and battlefield 
     information with us.
       What leakers think is a harmless bit of back channel 
     policymaking has repercussions down the line that constitute 
     treason and should be treated as such.
       We enthusiastically support your efforts. We are ready to 
     provide assistance in whatever manner would prove helpful.
           Very respectfully,
                                                 S. Eugene Poteat,
                                                  President, AFIO.

  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, first, I thank Senator Bond for dealing 
with this important issue. We have indeed

[[Page S8614]]

reached a point in this country where I think there is confusion about 
the absolute responsibility and legal requirement to maintain 
classified information in our Government. We need to be more serious 
about that. He can speak with authority. His son has served in Iraq and 
is a fine officer. We appreciate that. He understands these issues 
deeply. Again, I thank Senator Bond for that.

PDF Version

S 3774 IS


2d Session

S. 3774

To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.


August 2, 2006

Mr. BOND (for himself, Mr. LOTT, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mr. STEVENS, Mr. COCHRAN, Mr. BURNS, Mr. HATCH, Mr. SANTORUM, Mr. CORNYN, Mr. DOMENICI, Mr. BENNETT, and Mr. ALEXANDER) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.


`Sec. 798A. Unauthorized disclosure of classified information