WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden. D-Ore., said he will support the Intelligence Authorization Bill now that provisions he said would inhibit free speech have been removed.
Wyden also had objected to provisions in the bill he said would deny due process for intelligence personnel suspected on leaking sensitive information.
Wyden said in a statement he was concerned that two sections of the bill that would have stemmed the flow of unclassified information to the public and to the press would have the effect of hampering public debate on national security issues and unnecessarily curtailing or delaying former intelligence officials' ability to provide commentary in a public policy debate or serve on the intelligence community's advisory boards.
A third section Wyden had found objectionable was the requirement that the director of national intelligence set up an administrative process under which the various intelligence agencies would be able to deprive pension rights from a current or former intelligence agency employee (or a former employee) if it the DNI or other agency head determined the employee deliberately disclosed classified information.
He said he was "concerned that giving intelligence agency heads broad new authority to take away the pensions of individuals who haven't been formally convicted of any wrongdoing could pose serious problems for the due process rights of intelligence professionals, particularly when the agency heads themselves haven't told Congress how they would interpret and implement this authority."
He emphasized, "I was especially concerned about the rights of whistleblowers who report waste, fraud and abuse to Congress or inspectors general."
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