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Last week, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition issued a press release in response to S. 3774, legislation introduced by Senator Christopher Bond R-MO, which would eliminate the government's burden to prove damage in prosecuting whistleblowers.

Secrecy News claims that the new legislation is identical to the anti-leak legislation that was vetoed by President Clinton in 2000.

The United States has never had a statute generally criminalizing leaks or the publication of sensitive information. Despite consideration at a number of moments in our history, concern for the First Amendment and the principle that the press acts as an important check on government abuse has thwarted all previous efforts to pass such legislation.

Professor William Weaver, NSWBC Senior Advisor states:

"Such legislation is subject to a double standard in its application.  For example, much information is leaked to the press with the approval of administrators.  These sorts of leaks are an unofficial channel for shoring up administration positions and to influence public opinion.  On the other hand, unauthorized leaks would be prosecuted when they undermine administration positions or embarrass the executive branch or reveal illegal agency activity.  So whether or not a person is prosecuted depends on whether or not the leak is popular or unpopular with the administration in power at the time of the leak.  If the statute were to be applied evenhandedly, the jails would be full of administrators and presidential advisors."

Right now it sounds like the majority of the support for the new bill is coming from Rick Santorum and Conrad Burns. Sibel Edmonds, NSWBC Founder and Director is liberal with her criticism of the former:

"Senator Santorum is on our list due to being very consistent in his stand against whistleblowers' protection and his strong support for unchecked and excessive government secrecy. His strong support of this new repressive bill, which takes away congress' right to know in order to exercise its oversight authority, goes a long way to demonstrate why he is an incumbent candidate unfit to represent our people and their interest and rights guaranteed under the constitution. Mr. Santorum acts as an extension of the executive branch that seeks to override the Separation of Powers and expand its power; not as an elected senator who has been vested with authority and a position to serve his constituents."

NSWBC has issued its list of Twelve Senators and Representatives who by their action or inaction, have stood against real investigations, hearings, and legislation dealing with government whistleblowers who have exposed waste, fraud, abuse, and or criminal activities within government agencies. The Whistleblowers' Dirty Dozen:

Senator Hillary Clinton (D) NY
Senator Mike DeWine (R) OH
Rep. David Dreier (R) CA
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R) IL
Senator Orrin Hatch (R) UT
Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) MI
Senator Jon Kyl (R) AZ
Senator Joseph Lieberman (?) CT RIP
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) MD
Senator Rick Santorum (R) PA
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R) WI
Rep. Mark Souder (R) IN

The bill is brand new and likely doesn't have a lot of momentum just yet. However, with only a few months remaining before the mid-term, I'm hoping this isn't one of the issues the wingnuts use to rally their troops around. I can envision an elephant stampede to this jar of peanut butter.

Originally posted to thert on Tue Aug 08, 2006 at 03:34 AM PDT.

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