House Intel Committee Urges New Action Against Leaks

04.07.06 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Existing laws prohibiting unauthorized disclosures of classified information have not been effective, the House Intelligence Committee stated in a new report on the 2007 intelligence authorization act published today.

“Additional and more creative steps to deter unauthorized disclosures are warranted,” the report said.

Towards that end, the Committee asked the Director of National Intelligence to study the feasibility of revoking the pensions of those who commit unauthorized disclosures.

Furthermore, “the Committee has initiated a review of certain specific potential unauthorized disclosures of classified information at the request of the Speaker of the House.”

“That review primarily is concentrating on an investigation of four cases to develop a better understanding of the related facts and circumstances. The investigation is in turn expected to better enable the Committee to understand how and why unauthorized disclosures occur, and how the protection of classified information is perceived in practice.”

“By definition, no individual–whether a journalist, government official, or intelligence community employee–can or should singlehandedly presume to determine what information ‘deserves’ to be withheld from disclosure in order to protect national security, especially without full knowledge of the surrounding context,” the Committee stated.

In one startling passage, the Committee suggests that even the unauthorized receipt of classified information, and not merely its unauthorized disclosure, should be subject to legal penalties:

“The Committee’s work plan for this fiscal year includes reviewing all legal avenues to bring to justice those who violate the law, including those who knowingly receive, what is essentially, stolen classified information.”

It goes without saying that the President’s irregular treatment of classified information in the Libby case invites cynicism about the whole subject.

See the House Intelligence Committee report on the FY 2007 Intelligence Authorization Act.

In a minority statement at the end of the report, Democrats criticized the President’s warrantless surveillance program: “Allowing the NSA surveillance program to proceed without fully complying with the law threatens to undermine our entire Constitutional order–our system of checks and balances,” they said.

Committee Republicans, in response, rejected what they termed “false and reprehensible claims of improper or illegal activities.”