February 16, 2011

CARDIN REINTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO MODERNIZE ESPIONAGE STATUTES AND IMPROVE HOW CLASSIFIED INFORMATION IS USED BY THE COURTS

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee, has reintroduced legislation to improve and modernize outdated espionage statutes and procedures for handling classified information. Senator Cardin's bills, S. 355, the Espionage Statutes Modernization Act, and S. 354, the Classified Information Procedures Reform and Improvement Act , are narrowly tailored and balanced. Each contains important reforms that would update critical national security laws and enable the government to properly prosecute present-day terrorism, espionage and narcotics-related cases.
 
"We can find an appropriate balance between the protection of critical constitutional rights and our national security. Unfortunately, many of our current laws are decades old - if not a century - leaving gaps in their effectiveness on all sides. Our laws need to keep pace as physical blueprints, photographs, maps, and other documents have been transformed by technological advances in information gathering and dissemination, especially email, the web, and simple flash drives," said Senator Cardin.
 
Senator Cardin is a strong supporter of federal whistleblower protection statutes and believes that federal whistleblower protections need to be strengthened. Senator Cardin's bill, which updates the espionage statutes and makes them relevant and effective for the 21st century, strengthens whistleblower protection statutes, by creating, for the first time ever, an explicit exception that would preclude the prosecution of government employees for espionage who make disclosures through whistleblower protection statutes. Current federal espionage statutes are missing an explicit exception for classified information disclosures made through federal whistleblower protection statutes, and do not adequately distinguish between disclosures made to aid foreign nations and disclosures that are made to expose criminal wrongdoing and government fraud, waste and abuse.
 
Among other things, Senator Cardin's Classified Information Procedures Reform and Improvement Act (CIPRIA) will ensure that all classified information, not just documents, will be protected, and that prosecutors and defense attorneys will be able to fully inform trial courts about classified information issues that may arise during the course of criminal proceedings.
 
"Congress updated the procedures concerning the use of classified information in military commission trials in 2009 when it enacted the Military Commissions Act (MCA), but it did not update the Classified Information Procedures Act at that time," Senator Cardin added. "My bill includes the applicable MCA improvements and is designed to ensure that the federal courts will order the disclosure and use of classified information when appropriate."
 
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