April 04, 2007

Intelligence Authorization Bill Clears Committee

Includes Wyden Amendment declassifying the Intelligence Budget's top line.

Washington, D.C. - After two years of the Senate failing to pass an Intelligence Authorization bill, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today approved the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a senior member of the Committee, lauded the agreed-upon legislation as "vital to fortifying the U.S.'s intelligence capabilities."

"Passage of this legislation is proof positive that Congress can improve accountability in the intelligence agencies, while also strengthening their ability to protect the American people," said Wyden.

Wyden authored three provisions in the Senate-passed Intelligence Authorization bill:

• Declassifying the top line of the U.S. intelligence budget, making public the total amount of taxpayer money spent annually on U.S. intelligence activities;

• Increasing the criminal penalties for knowingly and intentionally revealing the identity of a covert intelligence agent from a prison sentence of up to 5 or 10 years to 10 or 15 years; and

• Adding resources for the Intelligence Community to support the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS). Problems with the CFIUS review process became evident after Dubai Ports World's attempted takeover of the management of six U.S. ports last year. The additional resources will assist the Intelligence Community in revamping its process of preparing risk assessments and providing other support to the CFIUS process.

"It is important that the Intelligence Community remain accountable to the people that it serves—the American taxpayers, who have a right to see where their money is being invested." Wyden said. "Improving transparency does not embolden our enemies; rather it increases Americans' trust in their government."

Wyden and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) also filed additional views to the Committee report accompanying the bill, in which they discussed portions of the bill which would modify the Privacy Act. Wyden and Feingold stated that they remained concerned about the provisions, but preferred to address them in conference committee, rather than delay the bill any further.

The FY 2007 Intelligence Authorization bill was approved by a roll call vote in today's committee and will now be referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee before moving to the Senate floor. If the bill then passes the Senate it will be the first Intelligence Authorization bill to do so since the FY 2005 bill passed in late 2004.