June 23, 2022

Wyden Secures Provisions to Protect Whistleblowers, Bolster Cybersecurity, and End Denial of Security Clearances Based on Past Cannabis Use in 2023 Intelligence Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., secured key provisions that protect Intelligence Community whistleblowers, bolster cybersecurity, and end the denial of security clearances for potential intelligence community employees based on past cannabis use, all in the 2023 Intelligence Authorization Act that passed the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday afternoon.

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

“This bipartisan legislation makes meaningful strides to improve treatment of whistleblowers and ensuring Congress can perform real oversight of intelligence agencies,” Wyden said. “I applaud the committee for including my provisions, in particular an amendment ensuring that past cannabis use will not disqualify intelligence community applicants from serving their country. It’s a common-sense change to ensure the IC can recruit the most capable people possible.”

Wyden’s provisions include:

  • Prohibiting denial of a security clearance to IC personnel based solely on past use of cannabis.  Senator Wyden will continue to fight to ensure that ongoing cannabis use is not the basis for denying or losing a clearance.
  • Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to review and report on the feasibility of being more transparent about activities under Executive Order 12333, which governs a wide range of surveillance and other intelligence activities.
  • Requiring the FBI to deploy counter-surveillance sensors capable of detecting IMSI catchers (fake cell towers used to track phones, sometimes known as Stingrays) in the National Capital Region.
  • Requiring the DNI to offer voluntary cybersecurity assistance to protect the personal devices and accounts of key IC personnel at risk of surveillance by foreign governments.
  • Requiring the Public Interest Declassification Board to report on modifications to Executive Order 13526, which governs classification.

The following provisions from the Senate’s FY22 bill, that were stripped out in the previous conference committee, are also in the 2023 bill:

  • Ensuring the continuity of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
  • Ensuring that the IC can’t use a pretext to revoke a whistleblower’s security clearance.
  • Removing the damages cap for whistleblowers.
  • Ensuring that whistleblowers can come straight to Congress.
  • Precluding the “urgent concern” argument that the Trump DOJ used to keep the Ukraine whistleblower from Congress.
  • Prohibiting the public disclosure of a whistleblower’s identity as a reprisal.


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