August 2, 2006
U.S. Senator Kit Bond, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on intelligence leaks by government employees or contractors by making it easier for the government to prosecute and punish those who make public America�s sensitive intelligence programs.
"Leaks expose our methods of apprehending the enemy and erode the confidence of our allies," said Bond. "Over the past year there has arisen an apparent absence of fear of punishment in regards to the arbitrary divulging of classified information.
"We need to send a message that leaks will not be tolerated and give prosecutors a modern and appropriate tool to go after those who do leak."
Current criminal statutes involving espionage evolved from a series of executive orders and legislation ranging from the Espionage Act of 1917 to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Bond said no statute brings together the outdated and disparate statutes under one simple provision.
Bond�s bill seeks to aid the Executive Branch in prosecuting individuals engaged in damaging leaks. 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.
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.
Individuals convicted of improper disclosures would face a fine and up to three years imprisonment. This legislation does not preclude the use of other statutes such as the Espionage Act of 1917 or other applicable laws.
Bond�s bill only affects government employees and contractors or anyone who has signed a non-disclosure agreement with the federal government. It does not affect the media, businesses or private citizens and only pertains to information that has been properly and appropriately classified.
Bond�s bill is the exact language included previously in the FY 2001 intelligence authorization bill. The bill, including the leak language, was passed by Congress, but was vetoed by President Clinton.
Bond introduced the legislation following damaging leaks to the media regarding critical intelligence programs used by the American government to track activities of suspected terrorists. American intelligence officials have said those leaks have caused �very severe� damage to America�s intelligence capabilities.
"Each one of these leaks gravely threatens our national security and makes it easier for our enemies to achieve their murderous and destructive plans,� said Bond. �Each violation of trust invites more chaos and violence into our world."
Bond�s bill is endorsed by the Association of Intelligence Officers, a 31-year-old organization comprised of 4,500 current and former intelligence professionals.