Rep. Peter King (R) on NSA Leaks: Prosecute the Journalists
June 12, 2013 4:00 PM
Homeland Security committee member things freedom of the press in the U.S. is growing tiresome
What do President Barack Obama (D) and
Rep. Peter King
(R- N.Y.) have in common? They are none too happy about the sources and the journalists involved in the publication of secrets on the NSA snooping on Americans.
I. Forget Freedom of the Press, Says Rep. King
In an interview with Anderson Cooper last night, Rep. King, who sits on the
House Homeland Security committee
, said that Glenn Greenwald of the
and other journalists involved in the publication of details of the
U.S. National Security Agency
program to secretly spy on Americans
should be charged and face prison time.
Actually, if they willing knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude. I know that the whole issue of leaks has been gone into over the last month. I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation, both moral but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security.
President Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder has reportedly carried out campaigns to spy on a
reporter who was involved in the publication of leaked intelligence details on North Korea. In that case, AG Holder signed early documents suggesting that the journalist -- James Rosen -- was
considered a "co-conspirator"
to the leaker and could face criminal charges. The effort to charge the journalists was ultimately dropped as the investigation proceeded, but drew substantial criticism.
AG Eric Holder has considered charging journalists in previous leaks. [Image Source: AP]
AG Holder also supervised a program to
monitor dozens of
in an effort to hunt down the person who leaked details of a foiled bomb plot.
The Obama administration has charged more than twice as many whistleblowers with Espionage Act (
18 U.S.C. § 792
) offenses as all the previous administrations before him (since the Act was passed in 1917) combined. But he's only been able to do that thanks to support of the practices by members of Congress, including House Republicans like Rep. King.
II. FBI Works Towards Charging Whistleblower
News of the
-- funded by
Barack Obama's "big data" spending program
-- broke last week. Details of two programs -- a narrow, more aggressive program dubbed PRISM and a broad, ubiquitous unnamed phone records seizure program leaked. According to the Obama administration the PRISM effort involved the seizure of email and chat records, but was meant to target suspected terrorists -- most foreigners -- and was limited to a small number of individuals.
By contrast the phone records seizure
tracked the majority of U.S. citizens
-- including those who never communicated with a foreigner and never were suspected of committing a crime. The Obama administration sought to downplay this spying saying it was "only metadata". However, that "metadata" contained records of who you talked to and when, plus tracked the locations of citizens on a daily basis.
Both programs were authorized under the Oct. 2001
(Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act.
The FBI is drafting chargers against the leaker, and possibly journalists.
[Image Source: Alamy]
the leaker outed himself
as Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA who worked at Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp (
). Rep. King was among the first to call on him to be charged. The
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations
(FBI) is rumored be currently drafting up those charges. Mr. Snowden is rumored to be holed up at a safe house in Hong Kong.
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