Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii quietly released a proposal for a new bill in late September that is slowly working its way through Congress.
HR8452, or the Protect Brave Whistleblower’s Act, is meant to reform the Espionage Act to better protect whistleblowers. In her press release, Representative Gabbard addressed Julian Assange and Edward Snowden as two whistleblowers who deserve to have been able to leak information about illegal and unconstitutional practices conducted by the government without being charged or targeted.
This bill is largely supported by Daniel Ellsberg, a man who claims that this bill could have changed his experience with the courts after he released the Pentagon Papers. Gabbard highlighted this on her press release and on her Twitter platform.
Representative Gabbard posted a video about the bill on her Twitter platform, where she stated that she first introduced the bill’s resolution H. Res. 1162 with Congressman Matt Gates. This part of the legislation focuses on Edward Snowden and dropping all charges on him, where recently the court ruled that the surveillance program he exposed was illegal. He has been charged with the Espionage Act and has since escaped the country. Snowden has recently faced the decision of a separate case, where the profits made off his book Permanent Record, has to be given to the U.S. government due to him writing about issues he supposedly signed NDAs on. Snowden will have to give the government over 5 million dollars of his earnings, yet he has still refused to return to America on the charge of espionage.
Gabbard continued by saying that she introduced the bill’s other resolution, H. Res. 1175, with Congressman Tom Massey to drop all charges on Julian Assange. Assange is facing extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. in order to begin his trial in the United States for publishing information on his site, WikiLeaks. Since September 10, the courts met to discuss the complicated issue of extradition, and this case seems it will drag on for quite a long time.
Finally, bill H 8452 is set to reform the 1917 Espionage Act so Assange, Snowden, and others who are being prosecuted by the act Gabbard said. This bill’s main point is that it will allow those accused of espionage to defend themselves, where there is already bias against them and the fate of a harsh prison sentence.
Another issue that Gabbard briefly touches upon is that while journalists and the media cannot be prosecuted under the Espionage Act due to the First Amendment, that has not prevented media outlets from being threatened by publishing information. However, it is true that journalists are protected by the First Amendment, and that they are not prosecuted for publishing true information that was illegally obtained by another person. Journalists and the media are not directly benefitted from this bill, but it reinforces the right of the press.
Tulsi Gabbard pushing forward this legislation appears to come out of nowhere, during a time where presidential debates and the coronavirus are taking up most of the news, making it an interesting legislation to push in this uncertain time.
Although it was only released on September 30th, this bill is slowly making its way through Congress.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr