Secrecy News

Wyden Bill Requires Declassification, No Exceptions

A bill introduced by Senator Ron Wyden would require the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence to declassify “any and all information” regarding actions by the government of Saudi Arabia to assist Saudi nationals who are accused of crimes in the United States to flee the country.

As Senator Wyden explained last week, the bill was prompted by multiple cases — 19 over the past 7 years, according to The Oregonian newspaper — in which Saudi nationals who were awaiting trial on charges such as manslaughter and sexual assault were able to flee the U.S. and escape trial.

The bill is categorical in its requirements. It does not “ask” for declassification. It does not call for “declassification review” or allow for any exercise of discretion. It does not mention any possible exceptions to declassification for intelligence sources and methods, foreign government information, or other national security-related material. None of that.

Instead, it quite simply states: the FBI and the DNI “shall declassify any and all information” related to the possible role of the Saudi government in this matter.

The bill, known as the Saudi Fugitive Declassification Act (S. 2635), was passed by the full Senate on October 17 and now awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

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