NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEARS 1990 AND 1991 (Senate - July 31, 1989)
Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, last week this Senator had proposed, sent to the desk, an amendment relating to the offense of espionage in an effort to have the death penalty apply to espionage because there has been no effective Federal statute on the books for espionage carrying the death penalty since 1972 when the Supreme Court of the United States in Furman versus Georgia invalidated the application of a death penalty in the absence of appropriate procedures with aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
At that time, Mr. President, the amendment was not offered but just sent to the desk, and a question arose as to whether an amendment was precluded by a unanimous-consent agreement which had been entered into on the Department of State authorization bill. At the time that the discussion was undertaken, I represented my understanding that the unanimous-consent agreement did not bar a submission of such an amendment because it was the intent of those who were a party to the unanimous-consent agreement to have it apply only for amendments introduced in the Judiciary Committee. I said at that time that I would confer with the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Biden, who was a party to the unanimous-consent agreement and also with Senator Thurmond, who was a party to the unanimous-consent agreement.
I have since confered with Senator Biden who advised me that it was his intent that the unanimous-consent agreement would preclude amendments on the floor of the Senate on the death penalty until the Judiciary Committee had reported out a bill on the death penalty generally.
I have since consulted with Senator Thurmond on the issue as to whether Senator Thurmond or others would precluded from offering the President's crime package as a substitute, for example, in the event the gun legislation was offered on the floor as passed by the Judiciary Committee on the DeConcini bill.
Senator Thurmond advised me that it was not his understanding that the unanimous-consent agreement would preclude the offering of the President's crime package, which does have the death penalty bill in it. I think it appropriate to report this to my colleagues and to say that in light of Senator Biden's understanding related to me that he felt all legislation on the death penalty would be barred until the Judiciary Committee had reported, I do not intend to press my amendment on espionage on the Department of Defense authorization bill.
I do believe, Mr. President, that it is very important the death penalty ought to apply to espionage because it is such a serious offense, especially in light of the fact there has been such a tremendous increase in the number of espionage cases in the decade from 1975 to 1985. The statistics have not been given, but I discussed this matter at some length before, and with the facts having been found that whereas in the 1930's and 1940's ideology may have accounted for the espionage cases, since 1975 it has been a matter of money, with very substantial sums of money having been passed.
It had been my hope that this provision for the death penalty for espionage might be offered on this bill and might become law at the earliest possible date, with the direct connection between an expenditure of the Federal Government in the range of $300 billion and the importance of keeping our secrets in fact secret so that the deterrent of the death penalty might be available.
But because the issue has arisen on the applicability of the unanimous-consent agreement, as I say, I do not intend to pursue the matter, and I will not offer the espionage death penalty amendment at this time and will refrain from doing so until the Judiciary Committee has reported the measures on the death penalty to the floor.
But I want to put my colleagues on notice that at the earliest time thereafter I do intend to pursue the death penalty for espionage because I think it is very important, and I intend to pursue the issue of the death penalty generally on the very many important Federal statutes which had the death penalty prior to the case of Furman versus Georgia, so at the moment the only valid death penalty provision applies on the drug bill passed last year in addition to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which was enacted in 1985.
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