June 12, 2014

Wyden Praises New Whistleblower Protections, Raises Alarm on Limits to Intelligence Professionals’ Free Speech Rights, in Senate Speech

Washington, D.C. – In remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., highlighted a provision in the 2014 Intelligence Authorization bill which provides new statutory protections for intelligence agency whistleblowers.  Wyden and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, succeeded in including the new protections in the bill, which passed unanimously late Wednesday evening.  Wyden also raised serious concerns about a new policy directive from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence regarding punishment for intelligence agency employees who discuss even unclassified subjects with the media. The term “media” could be interpreted to include social media or non-professional blogs, Wyden said.

“This is extraordinarily broad. It goes well beyond professional news gatherers to include anyone who uses the internet to disseminate any information at all relating to national security topics,” Wyden said. “So if you’re an employee of an intelligence agency and you have a family member who likes to post or re-tweet articles about national security, suddenly a conversation with that family member about important issues like NSA’s surveillance or the war in Afghanistan could lead to you getting punished for having unauthorized contact with the media.”

The full speech can be seen here.