What to Know About Wyden Hold on Intelligence Authorization Bill

The Intelligence Authorization Bill for 2013 is still pending in Congress, and the Senate may attempt to take action on the bill before the end of the 112th Congress this year. On November 14, 2012, Senator Wyden placed a public hold on the Intelligence Authorization Act to prevent it from passing without serious debate and amendment. In announcing his hold, Senator Wyden cited serious concerns over several of the bill’s “anti-leak” provisions. These “anti-leak” provisions would inhibit free speech, undermine due process protections for intelligence agency employees, and damage the news media’s ability to report on national security issues.

“I think Congress should be extremely skeptical of any anti-leaks bills that threaten to encroach upon the freedom of the press, or that would reduce access to information that the public has a right to know,” Wyden said in a floor statement publicly announcing his hold. “Without transparent and informed public debate on foreign policy and national security topics, American voters would be ill-equipped to elect the policymakers who make important decisions in these areas." 

Some of the nation’s leading publications agree with Senator Wyden that these provisions would curb transparency in our national security debate:

Washington Post, “Balancing U.S. secrets with the public’s right to know” (Nov. 29, 2012)
LA Times, “Taking a hammer to ‘leaks’” (Nov. 23, 2012)
Oregonian, “Intelligent questions on intelligence bill” (Nov. 14, 2012)
Tampa Bay Times, “Bill erodes public's right to know” (Nov. 13, 2012)
San Francisco Chronicle, “Curbing security leaks won't aid public” (Aug. 4, 2012)
New York Times, “A Pernicious Drive Toward Secrecy” (Aug. 2, 2012)
Washington Post, “A bill to stop security leaks puts a plug on democracy” (July 30, 2012)
LA Times, “Congress' war on leaks” (June 8, 2012)

Leonard Downie, Washington Post, “Why we don’t need another law against intelligence leaks” (Dec. 6, 2012)
Bill Keller, New York Times, “The Leak Police” (Aug. 5, 2012)
Patrick Pexton, Washington Post, “Leaks bill: bad for journalism, bad for the public” (Aug. 3, 2012)
John Hudson, Atlantic Wire, “Sorry Senators, No One Likes Your Anti-Leaking Bill” (Aug. 1, 2012)
David Ignatius, Washington Post, “Senate's anti-leaking bill doesn’t address the real sources of information” (July 31, 2012)
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, “Lawmakers, media are duplicitous on leaks” (July 31, 2012)

Cora Currier, Pro Publica, “Washington's War On Leaks, Explained” (Aug. 4, 2012)
UPI, “Critic: Leaks bill unconstitutional” (Aug. 2, 2012)
Josh Gerstein and Scott Wong, Politico, “Bill to plug leaks doesn’t reach White House” (July 31, 2012)
Greg Miller, Washington Post, “Anti-leak measure targets background briefings” (July 30, 2012)