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House intelligence bill gives CIA, NSA more arrest, pension power to counter leaks

[JURIST] The Intelligence Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2007 [HR 5020 summary], up for a vote in the US House this week, contains several provisions which would expand the authority [POGO letter] of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency [official websites] to crack down on unauthorized leaks of classified information. Sections 423 and 432 of the bill would authorize CIA and NSA security personnel to make warrantless arrests for "any felony" committed in their presence, even if the felony occurs off CIA or NSA premises. The expansion of arrest powers would overrule a 2005 opinion [PDF text] from the Maryland attorney general, which limits NSA police powers to NSA grounds plus 500 feet. The proposed legislation would also require the director of national intelligence to look into revoking the pensions of anyone found to have made unauthorized disclosures.

The proposals come amid Bush administration efforts to crack down on unauthorized leaks. Former vice-presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [defense profile], though not charged with directly leaking information, is being prosecuted in connection with the leak [JURIST news archive] of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Just last week, a CIA employee was fired [JURIST report] for unauthorized disclosure of information, reportedly in connection with a Washington Post story alleging CIA secret prisons in Europe [JURIST report], though there has not been an official confirmation of the information leaked, and associates of the leaker have denied that she leaked the information. Siobhan Gorman of the Baltimore Sun has more.

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