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Protecting Classified Information -- U.S. Law


I’ve gotten several emails asking about the laws applicable to national secrets.  The basic federal laws on the protection of classified information are here .

The most important of these is Section 798, which deals specifically with the consequences of transmitting “classified” information to an unauthorized person, no matter who the transmitter.  In August, in response to the NYT leak of the financial-data mining program, Senate Republicans (led by Kit Bond) introduced a bill, now in the Judiciary Committee, which revises Section 798 to expand the definition of “classified information.” Under the Senate proposal, “classified information” will now automatically include information designated as such under the system used uniformly throughout the national security establishment, pursuant to the current version (as amended) of President Clinton’s Executive Order 12958. 

The Bond proposal would effectively seal what has rapidly become an institutionalized hemorrhage of information from the national security establishment, highly sensitive information which the Times now routinely sees fit to misappropriate for political purposes. 

 Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter should endorse the proposal as soon as possible, and stop the New York Times from arrogating to itself the authority to decide when government information should remain classified. 


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