In the past couple months outrage over information leaks related to White House secret talks and policy negotiations has reached a fevered pitch in Congress. As with controversial trade negotiations leaked in June that revealed Obama placing outsized power in the hands of corporations, the only thing worse to Congress than the secret talks is the American public finding out about them.
Now, senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss aim to do something about it. The chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced on July 25 that the committee had passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. Nestled within it are 12 provisions aimed at stopping government leaks of classified information.
“The culture of leaks has to change,” said Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her statement at the time. “Leaks of classified information regarding intelligence sources and methods can disrupt intelligence operations, threaten the lives of intelligence officers and assets, and make foreign partners less likely to work with us.”
The focus is thus shifting away from investigating bad governance revealed by leaks to uniformly attempting to silence leakers and whistleblowers. It would prevent government officials from talking to journalists, and threaten them with loss of pension as a penalty. And it would effectively allow any type of classified information, whether or not the information is a matter of national security or just absurd government secrecy, to trump the American public’s right to know about US government actions.
Granted, it’s not much of a shift from the status quo regarding classified information and leaks, but it does send the message that government secrecy, not open government, is preferred.
As such, the committee’s provisions must be eliminated.
Other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee include: John D. Rockefeller IV, Ron Wyden, Barbara Mikulski, Bill Nelson, Kent Conrad, Mark Udall, Mark Warner, Olympia Snowe, Richard Burr, James Risch, Daniel Coats, Roy Blunt and Marco Rubio. Email the Senators and express the opinion that leaks are a critical part of democracy and the continued move toward a more open, less secret government.