Friday, June 19

A little less attention to Edward Snowden's transgressions, a little more to those of U.S. Congress

As I pointed out in 2014 there is no legal bar to a Member of the U.S. Congress disclosing classified information because Members are among those exempt from signing Standard Form 312. The form is the U.S. government's "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement."  The official manual for SF 312 makes this very clear in the answer to Question 4:
[...] By tradition and practice, United States officials who hold positions prescribed by the Constitution of the United States are deemed to meet the standards of trustworthiness for eligibility for access to classified information. Therefore, the President, the Vice President, Members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, and other federal judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate need not execute the SF 312 as a condition of access to classified information.
This means it wouldn't automatically be a criminal offense for those parties to reveal classified information without authorization because it's actually the signing of SF 312 that sets up ironclad conditions for criminal prosecution if any terms of the agreement are violated.

These facts have been studiously ignored by the press, and by commentators who try to rationalize the long silence of congressional members regarding overbearing government surveillance of Americans and clandestine cyberwar activities. 

The facts have also been ignored by Snowden's most vociferous critics.

It comes down to this: Snowden would go to prison for revealing classified information to Members of Congress (or anyone else). But the Members wouldn't go to prison for revealing classified information they'd authorized employees of defense and intelligence agencies to share in testimony before congressional committees.

There's really not much else to say, beyond fools and their freedom are soon parted.


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