Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jail Time?

I don't think so. Over at Power Line there is talk of the possibility of criminal prosecution for those responsible for leaks published in the New York Times and the Washington Post:

In this morning's paper, the Times finally gets around to noting its own reporters' and editors' legal jeopardy in an article by Adam Liptak:

[T]he Bush administration is exploring a more radical measure to protect information it says is vital to national security: the criminal prosecution of reporters under the espionage laws.

Both critics and allies of the administration say that the espionage laws on their face may well be read to forbid possession and publication of classified information by the press.

A second law is less ambiguous. Enacted in 1950, it prohibits publication of government codes and other "communications intelligence activities." Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who took part in terrorism investigations in New York after the Sept. 11 attacks, said that both The Times, for its disclosures about the eavesdropping program, and The Post, for an article about secret C.I.A. prisons, had violated the 1917 law. The Times, he added, has also violated the 1950 law.

"It was irresponsible to publish these things," Mr. McCarthy said. "I wouldn't hesitate to prosecute."

The reporters who wrote the two articles recently won Pulitzer Prizes.

So the Times has now acknowledged that its own reporters are at risk of criminal prosecution for their role in the NSA leak scandal.

Yet the Times allows those same reporters to continue reporting on the leak scandal, even though their own interest—the prospect of going to jail—must inevitably color (or at least be suspected of coloring) their coverage.

Already the Times has been embarrassed by this practice. On March 28, five former judges of the FISA Court testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the NSA program. Eric Lichtblau, one of the two reporters who wrote the original stories publicizing the NSA leak, which are now the subject of a criminal investigation, covered their testimony. Lichtblau wrote that the judges had "voiced skepticism...about the president's constitutional authority to order wiretapping on Americans without a court order."

read it all.

I will be amazed if the protected and feared journalists of these two papers get anything out of this but book deals.

I hope I am wrong.


MeaninglessHotAir said...

Well, can anyone explain to me why they shouldn't be in jail?

David Thomson said...

I am going to pat myself on the back. In the very early part of the Plame nonsense, I warned (and I was the only one that I can recall doing so) that human societies can only survive if they emphasize the spirit of the law over petty legalism. Cut slack as much as possible is among our most important legal principles. The authorities previously never played the “gotcha” game regarding our national secrets. After all, it was well know that the CIA and other spy organizations often even declared articles printed in the New York Times to be “top secret!” The MSM so despises the Bush administration that it urged the justice department to behave similar to a traffic cop ticketing someone for driving 55 1/4 in a 55 mile per hour zone. In such an environment---none of us is safe.

David Thomson said...

“Well, can anyone explain to me why they shouldn't be in jail?”

They should be prosecuted. They have flagrantly violated the law similar to a driver going 100 miles per hour in a school zone. The MSM is on an ego trip. It believes it has the right to ultimately decide which state secrets can be released to the public. Where did these arrogant fools find this in the Constitution?

terrye said...


Because they are special and the same laws that apply to the rest of us peasants are not for the rarified likes of the NYT.


david, you are always patting yourself on the back.