Once again, Senator Ron Wyden seems like one of a very small number of people in Congress actually willing to stand up against bad bills that are pushed forward with fear mongering. Earlier this year, we noted just how absolutely ridiculous it was that Senator Dianne Feinstein seemed a hell of a lot more concerned about punishing whoever blew the whistle
on questionable US activities like Stuxnet, then about the questionable activities themselves. In response, she put forth some legislation that was designed to punish government whistleblowers
, rather than understand why they were blowing the whistle. This bill got dumped into a key appropriations bill, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
. In other words, Feinstein basically said that if we are to fund intelligence activities we have to crack down on whistleblowers. Shameful stuff.
Thankfully, Senator Wyden has now put a hold on the bill
, noting his concern about how it would impact free speech issues, especially as it pertained to the media reporting on national security:
"I think Congress should be extremely skeptical of any anti-leaks bills that threaten to encroach upon the freedom of the press, or that would reduce access to information that the public has a right to know," Wyden said in a floor statement publicly announcing his hold. "Without transparent and informed public debate on foreign policy and national security topics, American voters would be ill-equipped to elect the policymakers who make important decisions in these areas."
Of course, part of the issue here is that Feinstein sees any form of whistleblowing or commentary as "leaks," while Wyden properly recognizes that a functioning democracy means allowing the press to report on questionable behavior by the government.