for Risen, Keller and Sulzberger. Richard Baehr, in an excellent American Thinker piece, makes a convincing argument that the folks at the Times involved in releasing a story that compromised American security have exposed themselves to criminal liability. The crux of his argument ties to the language used by the judge in sentencing Larry Franklin, a Pentagon employee who pleaded guilty to charges of passing classified DoD documents to two former employees of AIPAC and to an Israeli diplomat.
US District Judge T. S. Ellis III stated (according to an AP report) “that civilians who receive and disseminate unauthorized classified information are as culpable as the government officials who leak it.”
General Michael Hayden layed the predicate concerning the seriousness of the potential charges against the Time's employees in a speech yesterday (PDF) during which he said that:
"Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such."
Readers may want to mull that one over while thinking about the idiocy committed by the Times which put an NSA director in front of an audience explaining a program whose effectiveness is in great part due to the fact that it was secret. I would encourage you to read all of Gen. Hayden's speech to gain an understanding what type of people work at NSA and what principles guide them. We owe them our thanks and gratitude in precisely the same manner in which we are indebted to the men and women who have chosen to serve their country in uniform.
Journalists have absolutely no special standing under the federal law. They are not "priviledged" under federal statute because of their occupation. They are employees of companies whose main function is to garner profit. The vast majority of the practitioners of the craft are honorable and decent people doing a job they enjoy to the best of their ability. It is truly unfortunate that a contemptible few choose to dishonor their calling by disguising propaganda as news.
Risen, Keller and Sulzberger should have the opportunity to defend their actions in court. If found guilty then their sentences should be commensurate with the damage they have done. Twelve years just won't be enough.
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