Senate Intel Panel Slips Sentence Into Bill That Risks Spying on US Citizens

Anti-WikiLeaks Clause Could Provide Pretext for More Spying

Last month, the Senate Intelligence Committee branded WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” in a throw-away sentence in the annual intelligence spending bill. The sentence doesn’t officially proscribe any actions related to this.

But there are growing concerns about the clause’s legal ramifications, particularly given its lack of specificity on what it’s proposing. If the intelligence community uses this sentence to go after WikiLeaks and its “collaborators,” it would likely include spying on American citizens under the guise of counter-espionage.

This was a concern expressed during the initial decision to put it in there in the first place. Sen. Ron Wyden was the lone committee member opposed to the bill, saying he’s concerned it will lead to unforeseen ramifications.

The sentence echoes almost exactly a comment made by CIA Chief Mike Pompeo, who did seem to be keen to move against WikiLeaks over the matter. Any crackdown on WikiLeaks by the US government would likely center on trying to censor media outlets covering the leaks.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.