Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee, has reintroduced legislation to improve and modernize outdated espionage statutes and procedures for handling classified information. Senator Cardin’s bills, S. 355, the Espionage Statutes Modernization Act, and S. 354, the Classified Information Procedures Reform and Improvement Act, are narrowly tailored and balanced. Each contains important reforms that would update critical national security laws and enable the government to properly prosecute present-day terrorism, espionage and narcotics-related cases.
“We can find an appropriate balance between the protection of critical constitutional rights and our national security. Unfortunately, many of our current laws are decades old – if not a century – leaving gaps in their effectiveness on all sides. Our laws need to keep pace as physical blueprints, photographs, maps, and other documents have been transformed by technological advances in information gathering and dissemination, especially email, the web, and simple flash drives,” said Senator Cardin.
The espionage legislation that Senator Cardin reintroduced updates the relevant statutes by including the modern definitions of “classified information,” “national security,” and “foreign power.” In addition, the legislation would add a new offense which is aimed at deterring government officers, employees, contractors and consultants from knowingly and intentionally making unauthorized disclosures of classified information that violate classified information nondisclosure agreements. His legislation also promotes whistleblower protection statutes and regulations as mechanisms for reporting unlawful and improper government conduct, and protects First Amendment rights.
Among other things, Senator Cardin’s Classified Information Procedures Reform and Improvement Act (CIPRIA) will ensure that all classified information, not just documents, will be protected, and that prosecutors and defense attorneys will be able to fully inform trial courts about classified information issues that may arise during the course of criminal proceedings.
“Congress updated the procedures concerning the use of classified information in military commission trials in 2009 when it enacted the Military Commissions Act (MCA), but it did not update the Classified Information Procedures Act at that time,” Senator Cardin added. “My bill includes the applicable MCA improvements and is designed to ensure that the federal courts will order the disclosure and use of classified information when appropriate.”