The Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate recently passed S. 1761, the bill authorizing appropriations for fiscal 2018 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States government, the Community Management Account and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System. While the passing of this bill received relatively little attention from the mainstream media, some of the so-called “fake news” outlets did pick up on one very salient point as you will see in this posting.
After reading through the mind-numbing legalese, right at the very bottom of bill we find the following rather innocuous section:
“SEC. 623. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON WIKILEAKS.
It is the sense of Congress that WikiLeaks and the senior leadership of WikiLeaks resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such a service by the United States”
The bill, which was sponsored by Richard Burr (R – North Carolina), the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was introduced on August 18, 2017 and, according to Skopos Labs, has a 34 percent chance of being enacted, rather high odds when compared to much of the other business that passes through Congress. In case you were wondering, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence consists of the following members:
“My concern is that the use of the novel phrase ‘non-state hostile intelligence service’ may have legal, constitutional, and policy implications, particularly should it be applied to journalists inquiring about secrets. The language in the bill suggesting that the U.S. government has some unstated course of action against ‘non-state hostile intelligence services’ is equally troubling. The damage done by WikiLeaks to the United States is clear. But with any new challenge to our country, Congress ought not react in a manner that could have negative consequences, unforeseen or not, for our constitutional principles. The introduction of vague, undefined new categories of enemies constitutes such an ill-considered reaction.” (my bold)
Now, let’s take a closer look at the phrase “Sense of Congress”, a phrase that is not often heard in public. According to a 2016 analysis by Christopher M. Davis, “Sense of” resolutions and provisions are defined as follows:
“One or both houses of Congress may formally express opinions about subjects of current national interest through freestanding simple or concurrent resolutions (called generically “sense of the House,” “sense of the Senate,” or “sense of the Congress” resolutions). These opinions expressing the views of one or both chambers may be included in other legislation upon introduction or subsequently added by amendment.”
“Sense of” resolutions and provisions have content as follows:
“”Sense of” resolutions and amendments expressing the sense of one or both houses of Congress have been offered on many subjects. An informal survey of “sense of” resolutions and amendments adopted during recent Congresses shows that many of them focused on foreign policy matters, particularly resolutions that express the sense of the Senate. However, “sense of” proposals were forwarded on a wide range of other subjects, including stressing a particular domestic policy priority; recognizing a historic milestone, figure, or location; and calling for certain federal agencies or officials to take, or refrain from taking, a specified action.”
Although “sense of” proposals have no force in law, foreign governments pay close attention to them as evidence of shifts in U.S. foreign policy priorities. On domestic issues, agencies also monitor “sense of” provisions because they may serve as an early signal that Congress will alter statutory provisions if the informal nature of “sense of” provisions does not influence agency policy.” (my bold)
Basically, with this recent move by the Senate, the United States is taking the first steps toward declaring WikiLeaks as a new, undefined type of enemy of America, an enemy that is an arm of unnamed state actors, most particularly, Russia. By declaring the organization as a hostile intelligence agency, the United States could eventually take more aggressive moves against the leadership of WikiLeaks, anyone who shares information with WikiLeaks and, at some point in time, prosecute those who report on WikiLeaks “leaks”, a possibility that may explain the U.S. mainstream media’s reluctance to publish any information on WikiLeaks ongoing revelations about the CIA’s snooping activities which you can find here. What is most nefarious about this development is the fact that, unlike the United States government and the American media, WikiLeaks has a 100 percent accuracy record in the years that it has been publishing information, information that often exposes the soft, white and very toxic underbelly of Washington.
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