Below is a letter opposing a proposed amendment to the espionage statutes sponsored by Senator Kyl. It would criminalize dissemination of broad swathes of information concerning counterterrorism programs in the United States. There have been no hearings or debates on this dangerous proposal. I hope your organizations will be interested in signing on to this letter. Let me know pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx by 5pm EST Tuesday February 27. The letter will be transmitted to key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee mid-week next week. The Committee will consider the amendment on Thursday. Thanks. The proposed amendment would change 18 U.S.C. Sec. 798(a) to read as follows: TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 37 > § 798 § 798. Disclosure of classified information (a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information- (1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or (2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or (4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes or (5) concerning efforts by the United States to identify, investigate, or prevent terrorist activity" and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both. This is it for today - I hope! Patrice McDermott, Executive Director OpenTheGovernment.org 202-332-OPEN (6736) www.openthegovernment.org Dear Senator...: We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to oppose a proposed amendment to S. 236 offered by Sen. Kyl that would unconstitutionally and unnecessarily expand existing espionage statutes. The amendment offered by Senator Kyl to S. 236 would amend Section 798(a) of Title 18 of the U.S. Code (18 U.S.C. § 798(a)), which criminalizes disclosure of communications intelligence collection and processing methods. The amendment would broaden that section to criminalize the disclosure to the public of any classified information "concerning efforts by the United States to identify, investigate, or prevent terrorist activity." The proposed amendment is unnecessary, serves no legitimate purpose and in our opinion would be unconstitutionally overbroad. Unlike the highly sensitive communications intelligence methods already covered by section 798, the proposal would criminalize the disclosure of information that could be classified simply at the discretion of government bureaucrats, including the possibility of wrongdoing or illegality on the part of the government. Such discretion has repeatedly been used to classify information crucial to the free discussion of governmental affairs that is at the core of the First Amendment. Indeed much of the information that would be covered by this amendment is regularly disclosed by the government itself in the course of criminal proceedings or press conferences called by the Attorney General. The proposal thus seeks to stifle, with the threat of criminal prosecution, informed public debate about the most serious matters of the effectiveness of government counterterrorism efforts. Section 798(a) already covers dissemination of specifically identified intelligence sources and methods; it is a targeted provision that seeks to deter the disclosure of communications intelligence methods, which are seen as more serious than disclosures of other classified information. There is no justification for broadening the reach of that section. Indeed, the purpose and effect of this proposed amendment appears to be to chill the press and other members of the public who receive and share information "concerning efforts by the United States to identify, investigate, or prevent terrorist activity." The Justice Department itself has concluded that no new legal authorities are necessary to protect against disclosures of such information. ("I conclude that current statutes provide a legal basis to prosecute those who engage in unauthorized disclosures, if they can be identified." ("Report to Congress on Unauthorized Disclosures," Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, U.S. Department of Justice, October 15, 2002."). Thus the amendment is unnecessary to protect classified information. The Judiciary Committee has held no hearings or debate on the practical or constitutional implications of this amendment. We strongly urge you to reject the proposed amendment.