SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
October 31, 2000

FUROR OVER "LEAK" STATUTE ESCALATES

As opposition mounts against the new legislation that would make it a felony to disclose classified information, pressure is building on the White House to veto the Intelligence Authorization Act containing the "leak" statute between now and November 4.

In a revealing front page story today, the New York Times reported that “There is now strong opposition to the bill inside and outside the White House."

"It's potentially disastrous for a government spokesman," Kenneth H. Bacon, assistant secretary of defense for public information, told the Times. "It's disastrous for journalists. It's disastrous for any official who deals with the press in national security, whether at State, the N.S.C. or the Pentagon." See:

In an October 27 letter to the White House, Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) asked President Clinton to veto the bill. Otherwise, “this bill ... will have profound effects on the ability of an informed citizenry to keep our government honest." See:

In an October 25 letter to the House Appropriations Committee, House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde and Ranking Minority Member John Conyers reiterated their opposition to the bill and asked the appropriators to adopt a legislative rider that would defer the effective date of the leak statute for a year. See:

On October 27, Senators Leahy, Grassley and Schumer wrote to the Senate Appropriations Committee seeking a similar deferral on the Senate side. See:

“Because leaks to the media have always provided the most reliable warnings of executive branch misconduct, the new legislation would tend to diminish Congress’s own oversight capacity where it is most needed," wrote Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post today:

Meanwhile, the Drudge Report boasts that in a new book Bill Gertz of the Washington Times “is preparing to unleash top classified reports that detail Communist China's vast efforts to undermine and destroy the United States." According to Drudge, “sources close to Gertz fear" -- that is to say, they wish -- “he could ignite the first investigation after new legislation criminalizing leaks of all ‘properly classified’ government information is signed into law." See:

Finally, in what is only the latest of dozens of editorials from around the country opposing the leak statute, the St. Petersburg Times today says, “Veto it, Mr. Clinton." See:

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