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Dangerous New Secrecy Legislation Threatened

One of the most awful pieces of legislation in recent history is now under consideration by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, with hearings scheduled on September 5, 2001. It is designed to criminalize government whistleblowing and 'leaks.' (It is part of the Intelligence Appropriations Bill, SH 216.)

This draconian new secrecy law comes at a time when we should be relaxing government secrecy, not finding new ways of enforcement that are drawn from the annals of dictatorship. According to Steven Aftergood, the highly respected author of Secrecy News says in his Washington Times article on the proposal, "this ill-conceived proposal could do profound damage to our political system."

The new law is dangerous because it is far too broad. It says that the disclosure of any information that the President calls "classified" is a felony. As things now stand, there is no legal definition of what the word "classification" should mean. Under provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 and other acts, the President is free to classify essentially whatever he pleases.

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