12 Years Just Isn't Enough

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
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.


chuck said...

I wonder if the newpapers might be open to a class action suit at some point?

CF said...

Some folks are trying to do that, but I frankly think that might be difficult.
Criminal prosecution sounds just right to me.

Maybe someone can read the article to Pinch .

Knucklehead said...

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.

I've had that one on background ponder circuitry for a while now. I'm having some trouble figuring out how modern, corporate media conglomerates qualify as the "press" given special privilege under our long tradition of case law (if not the constitution itself). I'm not finding significant distinctions between the modern MSM and other forms of "commercial speech". I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who can describe the distinction for me.

So when, for example, the NYT takes classified information and prints it to enhance their revenue, how does that differ from any other company selling or otherwise using classified information to make a buck?

Just wondering. It isn't coming to me so I'm hoping others can point the way.

Peter UK said...

What is the difference between providing atomic secrets to the Russians like the Rosenbergs,for ideological reasons,selling information as did Robert Hanssen for money,or simply blabbing to the world at large for both reasons,like the New York Times?
Where is having anonymous sources to glean information to sell newspapers morally different from insider trading?

Syl said...

The press is still the press. And it's still a constitutional question. And we still do not have an official secrets act.

That the press is also a business and needs to make money has been true forever. Nothing new there. That the press can be and is partisan is not new either.

I think harm to national security is the defining issue here.

I do note, with glee, however, that the fallout from the NSA leak seems to be hurting the Democrats. All this talk of impeachment is scaring the American people and showing them that Karl Rove is, er, correct in his assessment of Democrats as living in a legalistic pre-9/11 world.

The NYTimes may be having second thoughts about the leak, but not for national security reasons.