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Waging War on Leaks

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(7) Requiring the attorney general and director of national intelligence (DNI) to report to Congress on improving procedures governing leak investigations.

(8) Punishing unauthorized leakers by rescinding their federal pension benefits.

(9) Prohibiting security clearances for unauthorized leakers.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) calls the measure dangerous and "sloppily" written. It goes way beyond stopping classified information leaks. Passage will enact a new layer of secrecy and coverup. The bill's problems are "extensive and severe."

A New York Times editorial called it "A Pernicious Drive Toward Secrecy," saying:

"(M)misguided legislation".would severely chill news coverage of national security issues. Drafted in secret without public hearings," enactment will undermine democracy.

Debate on vital issues will be compromised. Issues like government spying, torture, and war won't be discussed.

Whistleblowers will be targeted more than now. Discussing truths too important to conceal will be compromised. Mostly unclassified information is affected.

The measure "draws no distinction between information that is properly classified and the vast pile of information that poses no national risk but has been deemed secret thanks only to a dysfunctional system of over-classification of government documents."

Enactment compromises constitutional rights. It passed the Senate Intelligence Committee with one dissenting vote. Former officials, civil liberties groups, and outspoken journalists denounce it. 

Don't count on Obama to stop it. He routinely supports police state measures. He's targeted whistleblowers more aggressively than all his predecessors combined. House and Senate approval assures enactment.

Classification expert Steven Aftergood documented worrisome bill provisions. What's "unauthorized disclosure," he asked? Clarity about what constitutes the media is absent. Professional journalists are fourth estate members. What about independent writers, bloggers, and social network contributors?

Classified information isn't defined. "Merely being classified  (doesn't) warrant exemption from disclosure under FOIA." A court ordered the US trade representative to release a classified document not properly classified. So far the government refused.

The concept of unauthorized disclosure is ill-defined. Interpretations differ. Most bill provisions apply to elements of the intelligence community. Section 501 affects the executive branch. It requires notification of authorized information releases.

FOIA provisions exempt classified information provided it's "properly classified."

EFF calls the Senate measure troubling, "given that the government's secrecy system has ballooned to absurd proportions."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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