Washington, D.C. – Senator John Ensign (R-NV) led with Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) today in introducing legislation that will help derail the very real threat posed to human intelligence sources by WikiLeaks. Their legislation, the SHIELD Act, would give the Administration increased flexibility to go after Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange by making it illegal to publish the names of human intelligence informants (HUMINT) to the United States military and intelligence community.
“Julian Assange and his cronies, in their effort to hinder our war efforts, are creating a hit list for our enemies by publishing the names of our human intelligence sources,” said Ensign. “Our sources are bravely risking their lives when they stand up against the tyranny of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and murderous regimes, and I simply will not stand idly by as they become death targets because of Julian Assange. Let me be very clear, WikiLeaks is not a whistleblower website and Assange is not a journalist.”
Lieberman said: “The recent dissemination by Wikileaks of thousands of State Department cables and other documents is just the latest example of how our national security interests, the interests of our allies, and the safety of government employees and countless other individuals are jeopardized by the illegal release of classified and sensitive information. Our foreign representatives, allies, and intelligence sources must have the clear assurance that their lives will not be endangered by those with opposing agendas, whether they are Americans or not, and our government must make it clear that revealing the identities of these individuals will not be tolerated. This legislation will help hold people criminally accountable who endanger these sources of information that are vital to protecting our national security interests.”
“The reckless behavior of Wikileaks has compromised our national security and threatened the safety of our troops overseas, and this bipartisan legislation gives the Department of Justice a tool to prevent something like this from happening again,” Brown said. “While I strongly support government transparency, certain information must be kept classified in order to protect innocent American lives during this time of war and global terrorism.”
United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated, “To the extent there are gaps in the laws, we will move to close those gaps.” The SHIELD Act will help close these holes in the law.
The SHIELD Act (Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination) amends Title 18 Section 798, a section of law more commonly referred to as the Espionage Act, to extend the legal protections that already exist for communications intelligence and cryptography to HUMINT. By preventing these names from being aired in the public domain, the lives of these sources and their families would be protected, and so too, would our national security interests.