SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
October 13, 2000

CONGRESS ADOPTS OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT

Congress yesterday approved the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2001, including a provision that criminalizes the disclosure of any information that the executive branch says is properly classified.

It is a breathtaking removal of checks and balances on the executive branch, and an undeserved endorsement of the highly arbitrary national security classification system. It is part of the worst intelligence bill ever legislated, adopted by one of the worst congresses in the country’s history.

“This provision marks the first time that Congress has placed the full force of criminal law behind the executive branch's classification system," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi on the House floor yesterday.

“This ... will create, make no mistake about it, with not one day of hearings, without one moment of public debate, without one witness, an official secrets act," said Rep. Bob Barr. “For those who do not know what an official secrets act is, it is something that we have never had in this country. It has been broached many times, particularly in the Cold War era. But our regard for constitutional civil liberties, our regard for the first amendment ... has in every case in which an effort has been made to enact an official secrets act beaten back those efforts."

Until now. Yesterday’s House floor debate on the Intelligence Authorization Act is posted here:

POLYGRAPH HELL AT THE NATIONAL LABORATORIES

In its mad pursuit of a misconceived ideal of “security," Congress has quietly imposed broad new polygraph testing requirements on Energy Department employees and contractors.

Subtle changes adopted in the conference on the defense authorization bill will require polygraph tests on an additional 5000 persons in the nuclear weapons labs, Senator Pete Domenici noted in a press release yesterday. That is an increase from the current level of around 800 persons subject to polygraph testing.

“I am dismayed that the conferees took it upon themselves to adopt additional provisions on polygraphs," Sen. Domenici said. “I find it astounding, especially in light of the findings in the Baker-Hamilton Report, that the conferees included these provisions."

“The Baker-Hamilton Report clearly indicated that we should avoid further ‘Made in Washington’ rules that frustrate scientific pursuits and only serve to demoralize laboratory personnel. I believe these provisions will only make a bad situation worse," Sen. Domenici said. “Security will be a moot point if our national laboratories fail to achieve scientific advances worth protecting."

The Domenici press release is posted here:

The Baker-Hamilton Report is posted here:

By expanding the definition of who is a “covered person," the new polygraph provision will impose testing requirements on an additional 5000 people, based on an informal estimate that NNSA chief Gen. John Gordon provided to Senator Domenici last week, a Domenici aide said.

The new provision, section 3135 of the defense authorization act, is posted here:

It amends last year’s polygraph legislation, posted here:

HOUSE COLLOQUY ON WEN HO LEE CASE

Wen Ho Lee has pleaded guilty to his crime, but the government has still not acknowledged wrongdoing in its conduct of the case. And though national attention has moved on under the press of events, the sense of injustice continues to fester, particularly among Asian Americans.

“My reason for rising here tonight is that we believe that there was a serious mistake made by the government in the way that they dealt with Dr. Wen Ho Lee," said Rep. Patsy Mink in a lengthy colloquy concerning the “Investigation and Treatment of Wen Ho Lee" on the House floor last night.

“I think that the treatment and the prosecution of Wen Ho Lee and the manner in which it was handled raises serious concerns for every American," agreed Rep. George Miller, who renewed his call for an independent investigation of the case.

The House colloquy, including voluminous correspondence and documentation attached for the record, is posted here:

******************************

To subscribe to Secrecy News, send email to [email protected] with this command in the body of the message:

To unsubscribe, send email to [email protected] with this command in the body of the message: Secrecy News is archived at: