What they are saying: Criticism of anti-leaks provisions of intel authorization (S. 3454)

Criticism of sections 505 and 506 of S. 3454, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (emphases added):

The legislation would end contacts that often benefit both the government and the public by allowing the exchange of accurate information about vital national security issues and intelligence activities, including abuses requiring attention. As executive editor of The Washington Post for 17 years, I know firsthand that such conversations also help the news media avoid publishing information that, inadvertently, might harm national security.

Without access to knowledgeable career officials, it would be much more difficult for the news media to determine the accuracy of information or whether its publication or broadcast could truly harm national security.

Especially in times of war, declared or undeclared, it is important to maintain the right balance between accountability and national security.

 –Washington Post op-ed by former executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., December 6, 2012

The Senate legislation… would prohibit anyone but the director, deputy director or public affairs representative of an intelligence agency from providing “background or off-the-record information regarding intelligence activities” to the media. The result would be a license for those at the top to do all the talking while lower-level experts or those with contrary opinions could be blocked.

 –Washington Post editorial, November 29, 2012

 There is a perennial tension between the government’s interest in protecting the confidentiality of intelligence operations and the news media’s responsibility, rooted in the 1st Amendment, to inform the American people about how their government is using (and sometimes abusing) its vast powers. The provisions in the intelligence bill would needlessly alter the balance between national security and a free press.

–Los Angeles Times editorial, November 23, 2012

This would silence sources that illuminate matters of vital public interest, leaving the job only to those who have the most to lose if something embarrassing or illegal is disclosed… Without domestic intelligence sources, journalists may be forced to rely more heavily on foreign sources who may skew the news to their advantage.

–Tampa Bay Times editorial, November 12, 2012

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