ARCHIVED: Coalition Letter Regarding Hearing on the "Leaks" Criminalization Provision of the Intelligence Authorization Bill

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September 4, 2001

Senator Bob Graham, Chairman
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2003

Dear Chairman Graham:

We are writing to you to express our deep concern with the "leaks" criminalization provision that we understand the Senator Shelby will seek to include in the upcoming Intelligence Authorization bill, and with the limited opportunity for public analysis and debate of this provision before the scheduled consideration at the mark-up of the Intelligence Authorization bill. We specifically object to committee consideration of the provision in the authorization bill, immediately following the first public testimony concerning the problem, now scheduled for September 5.

While we understand the Select Committee plans to consider the bill one week from today, we do not yet have a public description from the Administration concerning what the problem is that the provision intends to address. The proposed language has not been made public and the Administration has apparently not even decided, much less announced its position about any new legislation. An ordered consideration of the issue would allow for first hearing from the Administration about the nature and extent of the problem, current authorities and tools for dealing with the problem, whether new legislation would address the problem, and its views of the constitutionality of new legislation. If after hearing from the Administration, the proponents of this provision still consider it necessary, it should be considered as a stand-alone bill. Both the Intelligence and the Judiciary Committees should then hold broad public hearings on any such bill.

We agree with House Judiciary Committee Chair Sensenbrenner that time needs to be allowed for "a public hearing process, in which various interests are able to express their views." These views need to be informed by the Administration's testimony and adequate time allowed for all concerned parties to analyze and address both the Administration's positions and those of the proponents of this provision.

It will not be possible to give adequate attention to the many and profound issues which this provision raises within the time available to pass an Intelligence Authorization bill before the end of this fiscal year. Indeed, an authorization bill is not the venue for presentation of legislation that has profound First Amendment and government accountability implications.

Accordingly, we urge you to not include this provision in your Chairman�s mark and that it not be included in the Intelligence Authorization bill that moves to the floor of the Senate.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Gary Bass
Executive Director
OMB Watch

Charles N. Davis
Executive Director
Freedom of Information Center

Prudence S. Adler
Associate Executive Director
Association of Research Libraries

Chris Hoofnagle
Legislative Counsel
Electronic Privacy Information Center

Danielle Brian
Executive Director
Project on Government Oversight

Frederick G. Muckerman
Editor
Compliance Publishers, Inc.

Ken McEldowney
Executive Director
Consumer Action

Mark Tapscott
Director
Center for Media and Public Policy

Society of Professional Journalists

National Coordinating Committee for
the Promotion of History

Kris J. Kolesnik
Executive Director
The National Whistleblower Center

Thomas S. Blanton
Executive Director
National Security Archive

Kate Martin
Director
Center for National Security Studies

Emily Sheketoff
Executive Director, Washington Office
American Library Association

Anders Gyllenhaal
Freedom of Information Committee Chariman
American Society of Newspaper Editors

Morton H. Halperin

Dwight Hines, Ph.D.

 

Kent Pollock
Executive Director
California First Amendment Coalition

Gary Ruskin
Director
Congressional Accountability Project

Lucy Dalglish
Executive Director
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Ann Augherton*
Chapter President
D.C. Professional Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists

Lynn Evans
Executive Director
Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information

Steven Aftergood
Director, Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists

Scott Armstrong
Executive Director
Information Trust

Jane E. Kirtley*
Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law School of Journalism and Mass Communica
tion University of Minnesota

Tom Devine
Legal Director
Government Accountability Project

Scott Harshbarger
President and CEO
Common Cause

Andrew Jay Schwartzman
President and CEO
Media Access Project

David Banisar
Deputy Director
Privacy International

Mary Alice Baish
Associate Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries

Mark S. Zaid
Executive Director
The James Madison Project

Daniel Ellsberg

*Institutional affiliation provided for identification only.