The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Daniel Schuman,

Schiff Should Withdraw Anti-Press Language From Intel Auth Bill

The CIA-backed measure also harms government oversight


Demand Progress policy director Daniel Schuman today condemned House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) for including language in his committee's Intelligence Authorization bill that undermines press freedom and government oversight.

Section 305 of the Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 3494) expands the Intelligence Identities Protection Act to criminalize the disclosure of the identify of anyone who has or ever had a classified relationship to an intelligence agency. The current law is far more limited and applies, for instance, only to covert agents who served abroad in the last 5 years.

As the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press pointed out, "This would subject national security reporters in particular to a heightened fear of criminal liability for disclosure of classified information, even when it is squarely in the public interest, such as revelations of agency wrongdoing."

A coalition of 30 civil society organizations added this would also impede congressional oversight and allow the executive branch at will to change whether someone qualifies as a "covert agent."

"Adam Schiff is once again putting the interests of the intelligence agencies in concealing their misdeeds ahead of protecting the rights of ordinary Americans by criminalizing routine reporting by the press on national security issues and undermining congressional oversight in his Intelligence Authorization bill," said Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress.

He added: "Schiff's expansion of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act beyond all reason will effectively muzzle reporting on torture, mass surveillance, and other crimes against the American people -- all at the request of the CIA. Schiff is clearly the resistance to the resistance, and he should drop this provision from his bill."

Today both the New York Times and Yahoo News reported on Schiff's present for authoritarians everywhere. Incredibly, the CIA justified inclusion of this provision because of the fallout arising from revelations that it had engaged in torture. ("RDI" in its statement means "rendition, detention, and interrogation," which is double-speak for torture, and was the subject of scathing congressional oversight.)

Amendments to strip this provision of the legislation are due to the House Rules committee today. Schiff should immediately remove the provision.

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