from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
November 2, 2000
CONTROVERSY OVER "LEAK" STATUTE APPROACHES A CLIMAX
Opposition to the "leak" statute -- and support for a veto -- are mounting, as the November 4 deadline for a Presidential decision approaches. The pending legislation, approved by Congress on October 12, would make it a felony to disclose any information that the executive branch says is properly classified.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) urged his colleagues to support a veto at a press briefing yesterday. "This bill attempts to protect our national security in such broad and vague terms, and without regard for the potential of rampant overclassification of government information, that it will have profound effects on the ability of an informed citizenry to keep our government honest," he said. See:
"While the Congress was working in good faith to stop proliferation of technology to Iran, Vice President Al Gore was allowing that technology to flow to Iran and never told the Congress," complained Rep. Curt Weldon, somewhat inaccurately. But he went on to add: "Thank goodness we have a media that is willing to stand up and expose this kind of action."
"We only found out about it 5 years later because a New York Times writer got a copy of this memo and spread the story out on the front page of the New York Times."
Under the new law, Rep. Weldon’s remarks might be interpreted as incitement to commit a felony. See:
While this proposal would be much narrower in scope and effect, it contains the same essential flaw as the present legislation: It would endow the executive branch with unilateral authority to define the boundaries of what information is protected by law.
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