"Hunting Whistleblowers in the Name of National Security": "Senators Rick Santorum, R-PA, and Conrad Burns, R-MT, support implementation of Official Secret's Act, S.3774, introduced yesterday by Senator Christopher Bond, R-MO, to criminalize the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Bond's bill seeks to enable the Executive Branch in prosecuting individuals engaged in disclosure of government secrets. According to the release issued by Senator Bond's office, 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. According to the new release by Secrecy News reports, the new Bond bill is identical to the controversial anti-leak legislation sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby in the FY 2001 Intelligence Authorization Act that was vetoed by President Clinton in November 2000. The bill was called the "Official Secrets Act," after the U.K.'s repressive criminal secrecy statutes."and at CQ:
Whistleblowers Scoff at Senate Republicans’ Leak Bill
Senate Republicans drew fire Thursday from an organization of national security whistleblowers who blasted new legislation aimed at stopping government officials from leaking information damaging to Bush administration national security programs.
Legislation introduced Aug. 2 by
Christopher S. Bondof Missouri and 11 other Senate Republicans would criminalize leaks and lower the government’s burden of proving that actual damage had occurred as a result of an unauthorized disclosure.
“We need to send a message,” Bond added, “that leaks will not be tolerated and give prosecutors a modern and appropriate tool to go after those who do leak.”
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.
Government employees convicted of improper disclosures would face a fine and up to three years in jail.
The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, an Alexandria, Va.-based group of former intelligence and law enforcement employees, called the legislation hypocritical.
“Rather than a genuine effort to enhance national security, this legislation is designed to deter legitimate whistleblowing,” said a statement from Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator who was fired after she complained about problems in the Bureau’s counterespionage and counterterrorism operations.
“The result is that the statute would create an ‘Official Secrets Act’ similar to that found in Great Britain,” Edmonds said. “But, obviously, Great Britain does not have a First Amendment and we do.”
William Weaver, who spent eight years with Army eavesdropping and code-breaking units and now specializes in government secrecy at the University of Texas-El Paso, charged that Senate Republicans were applying a “double standard” to leaks, because Bush administration officials themselves — like their Republican and Democratic predecessors in the White House — commonly leak classified information if it benefits their policies."