The Senate Intelligence Committee today passed its annual intelligence spending bill, including a provision which declared WikiLeaks to be a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” This was the exact language used in CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s condemnation of WikiLeaks.
The bill says that it is “the sense of Congress” that WikiLeaks is such a service “and should be treated as such.” They offer no specifics about what that actually means in the language, but it’s clearly a threat to treat the organization and its associates as enemy spies.
Sen. Ron Wyden was the sole committee member to vote against the bill, and even he condemned “the damage done by WikiLeaks to the United States.” On the other hand, he expressed serious concern about unforeseen consequences to the implied threat in the language.
In particular, Wyden said he was concerned that the phrase “non-state hostile intelligence service” might have legal and constitutional implications, particularly as it might be applied to journalists looking into state secrets in the course of their reporting.
That of course is likely the point of including the language in the bill in the first place, as in and of itself it doesn’t proscribe any specific action, but gives a vague threat, and a vague sense of Congressional support for the administration to engage in hostile action related to WikiLeaks, which would inevitably spill over into major media outlets that have publicized such leaks.