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  (Source: CNN)
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 Guardian and other journalists involved in the publication of details of the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) program to secretly spy on Americans should be charged and face prison time.

He comments:

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 Fox News 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.

Eric Holder
AG Eric Holder has considered charging journalists in previous leaks. [Image Source: AP]

AG Holder also supervised a program to monitor dozens of Associated Press phone lines 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 long rumored NSA spying -- 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 USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act.

FBI masked agent
The FBI is drafting chargers against the leaker, and possibly journalists.
[Image Source: Alamy]

On Sunday, the leaker outed himself as Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA who worked at Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp (BAH).  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.

Source: CNN on YouTube

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By lagomorpha on 6/13/2013 10:39:05 AM , Rating: 3
And you'd be right. The difference is most people and organizations get punished when they overstep their bounds, why hasn't the NSA?

By BRB29 on 6/13/2013 11:21:02 AM , Rating: 2
What have they done to break the law? This is currently legal.

By JediJeb on 6/13/2013 5:08:26 PM , Rating: 2
What have they done to break the law? This is currently legal.

It would be more gray than legal currently, but only because it has not come before the Supreme Court.

Any law such as the Patriot Act does not make things legal just because it is passed and signed, it must also not overstep the bounds set forth by the Constitution. The Constitution is the trump card when it comes to laws, it supersedes all other laws written after it. People can debate whether or not the collection of data without a specific warrant is allowed or not but until the Supreme Court hands down a final ruling after someone files a law suit over it, no one will know definitely if it does or doesn't violate the Constitution.

With no ruling it is neither legal nor illegal. If the Supreme Court deems it unconstitutional then it will have been illegal from the beginning.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/13/2013 8:23:34 PM , Rating: 3
This is currently legal.

No it's not. Prove it. I have the Constitution, the ultimate law of this land, saying otherwise.

What have they done to break the law?


Are you a wack job or something?

The legal, notice I said LEGAL, mandate of the NSA was that it would "never" direct it's surveillance apparatus domestically.

But the very definition, what the NSA has done here is illegal. A 30-year employee of the NSA, William Binney, resigned from the agency shortly after 9/11 in protest at the agency's focus on domestic activities. I think he knew a little more than you do about what is and isn't legal for the NSA!

By lagomorpha on 6/14/2013 5:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it is legal, they should still face the threat of having their budget slashed by congress or the President for doing something that isn't in the best interests of the American people. And yet our representatives seem to support the spying.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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