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Congress Considers Prosecutions of Reporters Over Leaked Information
In 2004 I wrote: "Governments that want to take public money for politically desired projects without opposition must close the government procurement to prying eyes. This means that contracts are signed without competitive bidding, Freedom of Information requests are not honored, and the media is co-opted." Today, Bradley Manning is in jail and Julian Assange is sought for prosecution. America, wake up to the denial of freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and the intimidation of citizens who want to participate in a free debate and in the political and/or judicial process.
   Betsy Combier   
It may not have entered your thought pattern yet, but the rights to freedom of speech and of the press are under assault in America right now, ironically at the same time that the internet is exploding with the buzz of conversations of everyman/woman. Sibel Edmonds is a great example of this whistleblower genocide.

Some people believe that our government and its' personnel have the authority to gag whomever they dont like in the name of "national security".

Congress considers prosecutions of reporters over leaked information
By Annika McGinnis, McClatchy Newspapers, last updated: July 11, 2012 07:44:57 PM


In response to New York Times stories that relied on leaks of sensitive national-security information, a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday discussed legislation that could allow journalists to be prosecuted for disclosing such information.

Army Col. Ken Allard testified to a House Judiciary subcommittee that the extent of national security leaks is “unprecedented” in American history. Recent examples include the Times’ investigations of President Barack Obama’s terrorist “kill list” and American cyberattacks on Iran.

According to Allard, such investigations threaten national security and serve only to promote the news media’s self-interest. He charged that such investigations were carefully planned to help Obama’s re-election chances and to advance the media’s own agenda. An example, he said, was New York Times reporter David Sanger’s new book, “Confront and Conceal,” which details American cyberattacks on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Allard testified that Sanger was “systematically penetrating the Obama White House as effectively as any foreign agent,” which he said exposed vital secrets to Iran and put the U.S. in danger of retaliation.

“Far from advancing our rights as citizens – as a free press should – Mr. Sanger deliberately placed his country at significant risk for his own profit,” Allard charged.

Leaks of this nature expose details of crucial security operations, including the people involved in them, lawyer Kenneth L. Wainstein testified. He said they also informed the nation’s adversaries of U.S. methods, compromised the well-being of government personnel and U.S. alliances, and undermined the integrity of government services.

Nathan Sales, a law assistant professor at George Mason University, also stressed the importance of protecting national-security information.

“If it leaks, we can’t wiretap Osama bin Laden,” he said. “If it leaks, sources get caught, incriminated and killed.”

As the committee considers revising legislation that would prosecute leakers, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., also urged criminal prosecutions of reporters.

“Why not send a subpoena to the reporter?” Gowdy said. “Put them in front of a grand jury. You either answer a question or you’re going to be held in contempt and go to jail, which is what I thought all reporters aspire to anyway.”

Other committee members said the First Amendment protected the media’s right to publish such information. They also talked about the media’s watchdog role, helping to hold the government accountable for illegal actions.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the chairman of the subcommittee, said whistleblower laws enabled holding the government accountable without going to the media, however. Such laws allow citizens to go directly to the federal government about instances of government wrongdoing.

The committee won’t have time in this session of Congress to revise the laws that define actions that are subject to prosecution for those involved in disseminating leaked information, Sensenbrenner said. In the next session, however, he said, the committee aims to revamp the Espionage Act, a 1917 law that sets up methods for prosecuting people who divulge sensitive information.

Sensenbrenner said when the legislation was revamped it must address the over-classification of government information and create a standard of liability for those who leak classified information to someone without a security clearance. He said the potential to prosecute reporters also must be considered.

“We’ve got the constitutional issue about the First Amendment protecting the freedom of the press, but there has to be a balance,” he said. “I feel that there has to be some self-restraint on the part of the press, saying we have this information but it would be tremendously damaging to our nation if it was published.”

Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in an email after the hearing that reporters took care to consider national security concerns when they were writing stories.

"I’m not in a position to know what the threat might be from those particular stories,” she said of the stories discussed in the hearing. “I do know, however, that the Times and other experienced reporters do their best to minimize harm to the public.”

She added: "There is no need for a new law, and certainly not a new law that was rushed through Congress without careful consideration of the First Amendment interests of the media and other members of the public who share national security information."

A representative for the Times couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

I wrote about the "national security" issue in 2004 and in other articles on this website:

Silencing Opposition: Education Policy Implementation Becomes a Matter of National Security

Wikimania and the First Amendment by Ralph Nader

Wikileaks Reveals More Than Just Government Secrets By Glenn Greenwald

FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Continues to Expose Corruption in the Bush Administration

Corruption and Secrecy in the Politico-Educational Complex is a Costly Combination

US President Barack Obama Opposes a Shield Law For Reporters

Court: Any Partnership Between Google and NSA Can Remain Secret

US Government Once Again Closes The Door to Sunshine and Open Government: The IRS is Sued For FOIA Violations

Obama's Justice Department Wants to Have the Court Dismiss the Bush E-mail Case

The Public Has The Right To Know Information That Maybe Officials Dont Want Us To Have

Osama bin Laden's Useful Death by Paul Craig Roberts

From Betsy Combier, Editor:
Here are some opposing views to mine:

Special prosecutor needed to investigate national security leaks

After the Wikileaks debacle of 2010, I hoped the Obama administration learned an important lesson on the need to protect America's most valuable intelligence, which is often obtained by dependable sources through increasingly sophisticated and clever methods.

Wikileaks illustrated how the release of sensitive information by an individual can deeply damage our nation's intelligence capabilities and embarrass American officials and our trusted allies. Wikileaks also taught us the regrettable action of a single bad actor can endanger the lives of countless human sources, who are incredibly courageous and extremely valuable to the United States. Unfortunately, the breadth and detail of recent media coverage involving further clandestine operations suggests individuals within this administration missed the memo.

Recently, officials have shared with the media sensitive information involving the foiling of a terrorist plot to bomb an airliner, publicized the role undercover agents played in the targeting of drone strikes in Yemen, and revealed the American and Israeli origins of cyber attacks on the Iranian nuclear program. If true, these are very serious breaches of secrecy that could have deadly consequences. Imagine a scenario in which it was discovered our nation's energy, financial services or other critical infrastructure was disrupted by cyber attacks originating in Iran. The American response would likely include, justifiably, the delivery of missiles to the doorstep of Iranian industrial sites.

What are most troubling about these leaks are their surprising sources. Media reports indicate "senior administration officials" are behind the most recent rash of alarming disclosures — not CIA or Pentagon officials, but the president's closest advisers and confidants. In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's death, the media's coverage of his killing included details identifying the location of "Pakistani safe houses" and the background of the Special Forces who carried out the raid. Reportedly, American officials also revealed the daring actions of a Pakistani physician who helped identify bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound. This unforgivable blabbering led to a 33-year-prison sentence for the good doctor — for the crime of treason. Simply awful.

The response of Attorney General Eric Holder — who once appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether CIA agents involved in harsh terrorist interrogations should be charged with crimes — was underwhelming. Mr. Holder appointed a politically active assistant, who contributed money to the president's election campaign, to further investigate the recent rash of leaks.

This maneuver, which is nearly as tone deaf as his misguided attempt to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 terrorists in New York City courts rather than appropriate military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, does little to convince most Americans the administration is taking the situation as seriously as it should.

The growing list of high-level revelations has rightfully garnered bipartisan attention and concern in Congress. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been particularly critical of what she calls an "avalanche of leaks," explaining, "It puts American lives in jeopardy. It puts our nation's security in jeopardy."

Beyond criticism, congressional oversight of the matter is critical as individuals responsible must be held accountable. While dozens of senators have called for an independent investigation to be conducted by special counsel, elected officials politically aligned with the president have unfortunately balked at the proposal, believing the attorney general's meager response is sufficient. As reluctant as I am to call for a special prosecutor, one is now warranted.

It has been reported that, following publication of information involving the killing of bin Laden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended a new communications strategy for the president's national security team. He delivered his proposal in a concise, four-word message: "Shut the (expletive) up."

Take the advice already.

And here:

US Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Says Julian Assange Must Be Prosecuted

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation