The concern about my amendment requiring convicted spies to forfeit the profits of their crimes is misdirected and overstated.
A major challenge to our national security today is the rash of citizen-spies who have been discovered selling off that security to the highest bidder.
These spies are motivated by greed, and the best way to discourage espionage inspired by greed is to take the potential profit out of spying.
The ideas incorporated in my amendment are very simple. They represent a fairly complete response to spying for profit. My amendment, cosponsored by 41 of my colleagues in the Senate, adds to the remedies already contained in the espionage statutes.
The amendment does not change the definition of espionage. It does not extend the scope of the three sections of the U.S. Code, which establish espionage felonies. It does, however, take concepts found in existing law and apply them to spies.
Discussion of my amendment on the Senate floor made it clear that there was no intent to inhibit the right of an innocent third person to write or publish an account of the crimes of a spy.
It has been questioned whether spies should be allowed to capitalize on their notoriety to land a big book contract.
While some may feel that our society, as Richard Cohen said in a column July 16, "looks upon greed as its most valuable natural resource," it is exactly that desire for profit at any cost that we must curb. By denying spies profits from telling their stories, we block that motive but do not prevent the stories from being told.
If a newspaper were to pay a spy for his or her story, my amendment denies the spy that payment. It does not punish the paper for publishing the story. It does not prevent the spy from telling his or her story.
The only way in which a paper could be affected by my amendment is if it -- the newspaper -- were found guilty of spying.
If there is concern that a newspaper could be convicted of espionage, then that concern should be focused on the definition of espionage, and not on my amendment. We made it very clear that there was no intention to change the definition of espionage with this amendment.
To my knowledge, members of the media have yet to be charged with espionage for their reporting activities. In attacking my amendment, they ask that a remedy against spies be abandoned because such charges may be brought against them one day.
It is irresponsible to try to prevent the adoption of this remedy, which would be effective against almost any of today's spies. The fear that existing law could apply to media operations stretches the interpretation of that law beyond reasonable bounds.