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Federal task force to review leak protection

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    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Freedom of Information         Dec 19, 2001    

Federal task force to review leak protection

  • Attorney general ordered department heads to determine if classified information needs stronger protection and promised a report to Congress by May.

Attorney General John Ashcroft on Dec. 14 named an interagency task force to review leaks of classified information, one day after Congress sent President Bush an intelligence appropriations measure calling for such a committee.

Both the bill, yet to be signed by Bush, and Ashcroft called for a report to Congress by May 12.

The measure calls for a study of leaks rather than setting strict sanctions. An amendment to an appropriations measure introduced last session by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) would have automatically sanctioned leakers of classified information. It was vetoed by then-President Clinton. A similar measure has not been introduced in this Congress, and a hearing scheduled on Sept. 5 to discuss the reintroduction of such a measure was canceled.

The current bill directs the attorney general to consult with the CIA director, secretaries of Defense, State and Energy, and other government agencies that deal with classified information to review detection of leaks and sanctions against leakers.

The bill charges the task force with determining if current regulations adequately protect classified information, especially in light of current and anticipated advances in information technology. The bill also calls on the task force to recommend new legislation.

(H.R. 2883) RD

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