Wyden voted against intel authorization over WikiLeaks denouncement

Wyden voted against intel authorization over WikiLeaks denouncement
© Keren Carrion

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenLobbyists turn to infrastructure law's implementation Democrats plow ahead as Manchin yo-yos Overnight Energy & Environment — House passes giant climate, social policy bill MORE (D-Ore.), the only senator to vote against the 2017 intelligence authorization bill in the Intelligence Committee, says his decision was due to concerns about it declaring WikiLeaks a "non-state hostile intelligence service." 

"The damage done by WikiLeaks to the United States is clear," Wyden said in a Tuesday press release touting three provisions he was able to add to the bill. "But with any new challenge to our country, Congress ought not react in a manner that could have negative consequences, unforeseen or not, for our constitutional principles."

The bill, released Friday, contains a final clause stating that the Julian Assange-lead leak purveyor should be considered more like a cyberthreat.

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"It is the sense of Congress that WikiLeaks and the senior leadership of WikiLeaks resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such a service by the United States," it reads. 

In April, CIA head Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE used that exact language to describe the group.

Wyden argued that there are "troubling" potential effects of implied threats against nonstate actors and a potential the designation might harm journalism. 

“My concern is that the use of the novel phrase ‘non-state hostile intelligence service’ may have legal, constitutional, and policy implications, particularly should it be applied to journalists inquiring about secrets,” said Wyden.

“The language in the bill suggesting that the U.S. government has some unstated course of action against ‘non-state hostile intelligence services’ is equally troubling."

Wyden's additions to the intelligence authorization included requiring a report on Russian money laundering, congressional notification of any joint cybersecurity venture with Russia and a report on the use of foreign intelligence agents snooping using a well-known security flaw in cellphone networks.