Senate votes to declassify intelligence spending

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday approved legislation to declassify the top line of the U.S. intelligence budget and make public the total amount of federal dollars spent on intelligence activities each year.

In a voice vote, the panel approved the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2007, which authorizes programs for agencies including the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. Most of the provisions are classified.

The bill now goes to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and if it passes there, the Senate floor. Congress has not passed an intelligence authorization bill since late 2004.

Committee Member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued a news release announcing the committee's actions and praising the legislation.

"Passage of this legislation is proof positive that Congress can improve accountability in the intelligence agencies, while also strengthening their ability to protect the American people," Wyden wrote in the release.

Wyden said he authored the declassification provision in the bill, along with provisions to increase criminal penalties for knowingly revealing the identity of a covert agent, and to add funding to the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States.

Wyden said that he and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., remain concerned about several provisions in the bill that would modify the Privacy Act. But Wyden said they prefer to address their concerns in negotiations with House and Senate members in the conference committee preparing the final version of the bill for passage, assuming the legislation advances to that point.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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