from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 36
April 26, 2002


A pending Justice Department report on unauthorized disclosures ("leaks") of classified information -- due to be submitted to Congress next week -- is likely to revive controversy over the need for a legislative response to such disclosures.

In the past two years, some members of Congress, led by Senator Richard Shelby, have advanced proposals to criminalize all unauthorized disclosures of properly classified information.

But such proposals "are fundamentally misconceived, rife with unintended consequences, and neither necessary nor sufficient to achieve their goal," writes Steven Aftergood in an article in the Winter 2002 issue of National Security Studies Quarterly, published by Georgetown University. See:

That article was written in response to an earlier piece defending the need for new legislation to outlaw leaks authored by Michael Hurt, a congressional staffer. In reply, Mr. Hurt restates his original position here:

The requirement for a Justice Department report on the issue, which is due May 1, was enacted in last year's intelligence authorization bill and may be found here:


A House Government Reform subcommittee held its third hearing last Wednesday on President Bush's controversial executive order 13233 that imposes new restrictions on public access to presidential records from past Administrations.

The latest hearing focused on legislation recently introduced in the House (H.R. 4187) that would effectively overturn the executive order. Under the bill's provisions, said Rep. Stephen Horn, a principal co-sponsor, "It would no longer be possible for a former or incumbent President to prevent the release of records indefinitely simply by inaction."

Prepared statements from the April 24 hearing are posted here:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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