Senate Intel slips sentence into bill that could lead to spying on US citizens

mcclatchydc | 9/12/2017 | Staff
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A Senate panel may be stealthily trying to give federal law enforcement a new tool to go after the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and its U.S. collaborators.

A one-sentence “Sense of Congress” clause was tacked onto the end of a massive 11,700-word bill that was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee and is likely to come before the full Senate later this month.

Clause - WikiLeaks - Hostile - Intelligence - Service

The clause says that WikiLeaks “resembles a non-state hostile intelligence service” and that the U.S. government “should treat it as such.”

The intended target might not be Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks who has been holed up at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012. Federal law enforcement, experts say, is likely targeting anyone collaborating with his organization.

Language - Investigators - Authorization - US - Citizens

And this language would help investigators secure the authorization needed to surveil those U.S. citizens thought to be associated with WikiLeaks, said Robert L. Deitz, a lawyer who has held senior legal posts at the CIA, the National Security Agency and at the Pentagon’s intelligence offices. Requests to spy on citizens go to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and, at least theoretically, they are difficult to obtain.

“You need to show that someone is an agent of a foreign power,” said Deitz, who teaches at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia.

IT - POSSIBLE - THAT - ASSANGE - HAS

IT’S POSSIBLE THAT ASSANGE HAS COLLEAGUES IN THIS COUNTRY THAT THEY NEED TO FOCUS ON.

“It’s possible that Assange has colleagues in this country that they need to focus on,” Deitz said, noting that such action can only be done under court order.

Mystery - Clause - Intelligence - Authorization - Act

Some mystery surrounds how the clause was added to the Intelligence Authorization Act 2018, the motivations for its inclusion and its intended impact. The office of Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the intelligence committee, declined to offer details.

“We don’t...
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