August 22, 2017

Wyden Secures Key Amendments on FY2018 Intelligence Authorization Act

Bill Includes New Report on Russian Money Laundering, Prohibition on U.S.-Russia Cyber Agreement Without Detailed Reporting to Congress, Assessment of Whether Cell Network Vulnerabilities are Resulting in Foreign Government Surveillance of Americans

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, secured three key amendments to the Intelligence Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which was recently made public.

  1. A report on the threat to the United States from Russian money laundering.  The amendment calls on intelligence agencies to work with elements of the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), to assess the scope and threat of Russian money laundering to the United States.
  2. Requires Congressional notification before the establishment of any U.S.-Russia cybersecurity unit, including a report on what intelligence will be shared with the Russians, any counterintelligence concerns, and how those concerns would be mitigated.
  3. A report from the Intelligence Community on whether cyber security vulnerabilities in the U.S. cell network, including known vulnerabilities to SS7, are resulting in foreign government surveillance of Americans.  The report follows on a study by the Department of Homeland Security that found major, widespread weaknesses in U.S. mobile networks.

Wyden voted against the Intelligence Authorization Act over a provision that could set a troubling constitutional precedent.  The provision stated that, “WikiLeaks and the senior leadership of WikiLeaks resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such a service by the United States.”.

“My concern is that the use of the novel phrase ‘non-state hostile intelligence service’ may have legal, constitutional, and policy implications, particularly should it be applied to journalists inquiring about secrets,” said Senator Wyden.  “The language in the bill suggesting that the U.S. government has some unstated course of action against ‘non-state hostile intelligence services’ is equally troubling.  The damage done by WikiLeaks to the United States is clear.  But with any new challenge to our country, Congress ought not react in a manner that could have negative consequences, unforeseen or not, for our constitutional principles.  The introduction of vague, undefined new categories of enemies constitutes such an ill-considered reaction.”