June 26, 2018

Wyden Secures Key Provisions in 2019 Intelligence Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, secured key amendments to the Intelligence Authorization Act for the 2019 fiscal year.

“This bill represents progress when it comes to standing up to the financial and intelligence threat from Russia and securing Intelligence Community communications. And while I wish this went farther, the committee is now on  the record as acknowledging that it is unacceptable for intelligence nominees to hold all of the cards when it comes to deciding what information the public learns about their background,” Wyden said. “Although I continue to have strong concerns about vague language regarding a ‘non-state hostile intelligence service,’ on balance the legislation makes sufficient improvements to win my support.”

  1. Reporting on the threat to the United States from Russian money laundering.  The amendment calls on intelligence agencies to work with the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, 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.
  4. New direction preventing Intelligence Community officials who are nominated from making declassification officials about themselves. The decisions would be made by the Director of National Intelligence.
  5. An amendment removing the cap on the number of state election officials with security clearances, to better prepare for future threats to election systems.
  6. New cybersecurity protections for Intelligence Community officials’ personal devices.
  7. A study on encrypting the Intelligence Community’s unclassified communications.
  8. A report on protecting the confidentiality of whistleblowers’ communications during ongoing security clearance evaluations.

Although Wyden voted in favor of the bill, he continues to object to 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.” Wyden will press for the provision to be modified or removed as the legislation proceeds.