Friday, November 16, 2012

'Watchmen' recognized during Senate floor debate

In a statement on the floor of the Senate today, Senator Wyden (D-Ore) cited Watchmen as "One of the best analyses I have seen of the problem of unauthorized disclosures."

"So I'm all for Congress recognizing that leaks can be a serious problem, and for doing things to show the men and women of the US intelligence community that we recognize the seriousness of this issue.  The problem, though, is that Congress can't actually legislate this problem away, and attempts to do so can have serious negative consequences.

One of the best analyses I have seen of the problem of unauthorized disclosures was a report published last year by the National Intelligence University.  The report observed that this problem has been around for several decades, and noted specifically that "The relative consistency in the number of unauthorized disclosures over the past 30 years demonstrates their persistent nature, independent of which political party controls the White House or Congress."  This report, like a number of previous reports on the subject, also suggested that because it is very difficult to identify government employees responsible for disclosing classified information to the media, unauthorized disclosures are not a problem that can be solved with legislation."

Senator Wyden made his statement after placing a hold on the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2013. Wyden objects to provisions in the Act that he believes would harm the ability of the media to report on national security issues.  He is the only member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) who voted against the authorization bill when it was passed by the Committee in July 2012.

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