July 28, 2021

Wyden Secures Key Provisions to Protect Whistleblowers, Defend Democracy and Strengthen Oversight in Intelligence Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., secured key provisions that protect Intelligence Community whistleblowers, defend the security of Congress and strengthen oversight as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act that passed the Senate Intelligence Committee today.

Wyden, a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, applauded the committee for including his provisions in the bill.

“Smart intelligence policy doesn’t have to be a boxing match,” Wyden said. “I thank my colleagues for including commonsense provisions that will ensure stronger protections for whistleblowers, who are essential to identifying waste and abuse within the IC, keep civil liberty watchdogs on the beat and better protect the Capitol from threats. This is what vigorous oversight is all about.”

Wyden’s provisions include:

Defending democracy. Sen. Wyden secured a provision in the bill requiring the DNI, in coordination with the Director of the FBI and the Secretary of Homeland Security, to report on intelligence support to the Senate and House Sergeants at Arms and the U.S. Capitol police to protect the physical and cyber security of Congress. The provision requires the GAO to report on the use of that intelligence support. Another provision ensures that GAO can conduct a review of congressional cybersecurity.

Protecting whistleblowers. Sen. Wyden secured four provisions to protect Intelligence Community whistleblowers. Three provisions address abuses by the Trump Administration by clarifying the IG’s authority over determining what whistleblower complaints are transmitted to Congress, establishing a mechanism for whistleblowers to go straight to Congress, and prohibiting public disclosure of a whistleblower’s identity as a reprisal. A fourth Wyden provision fixes the existing whistleblower statutes which are confusing and contradictory, harmonizing them to strengthen whistleblower protections and provide necessary clarity to whistleblowers.

Oversight and transparency. A Wyden amendment ensures that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) can continue to operate when new members have not yet been nominated, fixing a serious problem that has interfered with the PCLOB’s investigations and reports. Another Wyden amendment ensures that a report about the Vulnerabilities Equities Process is made public. Senator Wyden also ensured that the DNI’s plans related to artificial intelligence address privacy concerns.