Congress is adding muscle to its requests for harsh penalties against those accused of leaking classified information.
Last week Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced the Deterring Public Disclosure of Covert Actions Act of 2012, which will revoke the security clearances of individuals who disclose covert actions. Burr emphasized that no such bill should need to be issued, but recent concerns about a dramatic rise in sensitive information being disclosed make such legislation necessary.
“There has been no shortage of news reports lately regarding covert and classified actions,” Senator Burr said. “Such reckless disclosure of top-secret information compromises our national security, jeopardizes the work of our intelligence officers and overseas partners, and risks innocent lives.”
The law would apply to officers, contractors and government employees and Burr emphasized in his statement that no one would lose their clearance without due process, and a determination that classified information had actually been leaked.
The bill comes in follow-up to an announcement by the Director of National Intelligence that new polygraph procedures would ask specifically about whether an individual has ever disclosed protected information. Polygraph procedures are now in the spotlight, following a McClatchy News Service report on abuses in the polygraph screening process. Unless carefully implemented, new polygraph screening methods along with harsher and more immediate penalties for those found revealing secrets could make for simpler responses to that question “how was your day?” – even if it’s your spouse asking.