Legislation Targets Intelligence Leaks
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Kit Bond, a member of the Senate
Intelligence Committee, today introduced legislation aimed at cracking
down on intelligence leaks by government employees or contractors by
making it easier for the government to prosecute and punish those who
make public America's sensitive intelligence programs.
"Leaks expose our methods of apprehending the enemy and erode the
confidence of our allies," said Bond. "Over the past year there has
arisen an apparent absence of fear of punishment in regards to the
arbitrary divulging of classified information.
"We need to send a message that leaks will not be tolerated and give
prosecutors a modern and appropriate tool to go after those who do
Current criminal statutes involving espionage evolved from a series of
executive orders and legislation ranging from the Espionage Act of 1917
to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Bond said no statute brings together
the outdated and disparate statutes under one simple provision.
Bond's bill seeks to aid the Executive Branch in prosecuting
individuals engaged in damaging leaks. The legislation seeks to unify
current law and ease the government's burden in prosecuting and
punishing leakers by eliminating the need to prove that damage to the
national security has or will result from a disclosure.
Under Bond's bill, individuals are subject to prosecution if they
"knowingly and willfully" disclose classified information to someone
they know is not authorized to receive it.
Individuals convicted of improper disclosures would face a fine and up
to three years imprisonment. This legislation does not preclude the use
of other statutes such as the Espionage Act of 1917 or other applicable
Bond's bill only affects government employees and contractors or anyone
who has signed a non-disclosure agreement with the federal government.
It does not affect the media, businesses or private citizens and only
pertains to information that has been properly and appropriately
Bond's bill is the exact language included previously in the FY 2001
intelligence authorization bill. The bill, including the leak language,
was passed by Congress, but was vetoed by President Clinton.
Bond introduced the legislation following damaging leaks to the media
regarding critical intelligence programs used by the American
government to track activities of suspected terrorists. American
intelligence officials have said those leaks have caused "very severe"
damage to America's intelligence capabilities.
"Each one of these leaks gravely threatens our national security and
makes it easier for our enemies to achieve their murderous and
destructive plans," said Bond. "Each violation of trust invites more
chaos and violence into our world."
Bond's bill is endorsed by the Association of Intelligence Officers, a
31-year-old organization comprised of 4,500 current and former
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