Senator Ron Wyden announced Wednesday that he’s blocking legislation aimed at curbing intelligence leaks.
Oregon’s senior senator, a Democrat, says some of the bill's provisions would curtail free speech and restrict the public’s access to information. Wyden was the only member of the Senate Intelligence Committee to vote against the bill in committee. He says he supports legislation to stop leaks, and has taken steps in the past to toughen laws that do that.
"But the public’s right to know – particularly on matters that go to issues of broad public policy that involve men and women across this country having enough information as voters, as citizens – is what this is all about.”
Wyden opposes the bill’s ban on intelligence officials giving background press briefings on unclassified matters. And he says former intelligence officials ought to be able to express their views immediately after leaving government – so long as they don’t share classified information.
Wyden also worries that the bill may weaken whistleblower protections.
Among the bill’s supporters are leading Senate Democrats Harry Reid of Nevada and Diane Feinstein of California.