Prosecuting Reporters That Leak Information

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  1. profile image0
    Sooner28posted 10 years ago … odayspaper

    National Security can justify anything.  What if the president was dying of cancer?  If a reporter wrote a story about it then "enemies" would know the U.S. president was dying and would thus possibly in a far out way make us maybe vulnerable to a small attack from some unnamed group.

    It should bother anyone who cares about freedom of speech and the press that the government officials feel comfortable publishing such a chilling argument.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      As I read the article, no reporter was prosecuted or even considered for prosecution.  The telephone logs were used to locate the person responsible for leaking the information to the press. 

      From the article I can find little to no fault with the government procedure.  Every effort was made to do the investigation without the logs - that was a last ditch effort to find the leaker.

      Yes, there is a fine line between free speech and national security.  One that is sometimes crossed both ways; there always seems to be someone that wants to destroy any secrecy at all in the government; to make every possible conversation open to the world.  And there always seems to be some high security type that wants every conversation to be made secret, unavailable to the public.

      Somewhere in between is what is necessary, and we will always find people on both sides of that line.  In this case, I would side with the procedures reported in the article.

      1. profile image0
        HowardBThinameposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Did a little deeper, Wilderness. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim was charged. Rosen wasn't, but his emails and phone records were obtained as part of a criminal investigation.

        Obama is losing the support he once had from the media - and with good reason. His intimidation tactics are coming full circle.

        Millbank offers one of the best assessments I've read on the subject to date. … story.html

        1. wilderness profile image96
          wildernessposted 10 years agoin reply to this

          Some problems with this.  Rosen was suspected of a crime, and was investigated.  So far, no problem - that's how we catch criminals.  No crime was found and Rosen was not charged with anything, so what's the problem?  Is it your claim that we should never investigate suspected criminals?

          2.  Rosen didn't want to know what we were finding in North Korea; he wanted to tell the world what we found.  There's a difference here in that one does not jeopardize security and one very definitely does.

          3.  The link states that a reporters "job" is to find out and make public any and all information the govt. doesn't want spread over the world.  Sorry - that is NOT a reporters job.  It will, for instance, include identities, locations etc. of undercover agents in foreign countries.  It will include all military secrets of technology, plans, etc. 

          The line between what needs to remain secret and what can safely be exposed ("safely" to the country, not individual politicians) is a very blurred one but it does exist.  It is also clearly crossed periodically and those giving our enemies deadly secrets that can and do cause harm to the country or it's operatives needs prosecuted.  Not let go because they are "reporters".

          1. profile image51
            Lie Detectorposted 10 years agoin reply to this

            And what did Rosens parents have to do with it?

            1. wilderness profile image96
              wildernessposted 10 years agoin reply to this

              I have no idea - why do you ask?  Are they in jail now for being an accessory or something? 

              Or did they just get caught in the investigation, as so many innocent people so often are?  Because obviously a great many people are questioned/investigated in ANY criminal investigation whether it be treason, murder or selling drugs.

              1. profile image51
                Lie Detectorposted 10 years agoin reply to this

                Apparently his parents phone records needed to be seized. I was just asking why? You seem to have a lot of this figured out thought you might now.

       … -tracking/

          2. profile image0
            HowardBThinameposted 10 years agoin reply to this

            I was just replying to your assertion that no journalists were prosecuted. I pointed out that Stephen Jin-Woo Kim was. Hence, you were wrong.

            Rosen was doing what reporters do - digging up information. This Administration didn't like that and went after him. Rosen wasn't a criminal. Not then, not now.

            Of all the scandals that have recently broken about this Administration, the AP spying scandal will be the worst for Obama. He's lost MSM's trust. This Administration might just be the most crooked we've seen since Nixon.

            Watch as the press no longer rallies its wagons around the president. It's a well-deserved response.

            1. profile image51
              Lie Detectorposted 10 years agoin reply to this

              Comparing obama to Nixon isn't fair. Nixon's unemployment was only 5%.

              1. profile image0
                HowardBThinameposted 10 years agoin reply to this

                Good point.

        2. psycheskinner profile image83
          psycheskinnerposted 10 years agoin reply to this

          That's exactly what Wilderness said.  And Kim seems to have broken the law, so it is why would he not be charged?

          1. profile image0
            HowardBThinameposted 10 years agoin reply to this

            So - you're okay with charging whistle blowers under an antiquated Espionage Act? I wonder how Obama justifies that against in light of his campaign statements that he would protect whistle blowers.


    2. HollieT profile image84
      HollieTposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      I'm absolutely amazed at the way in which US citizens are concerned about this story, and how the press are being persecuted, yet, not once have I seen a thread relating to how the press allegedly hacked the phones of the victims of 9/11.

      If you want to go after govt. for the way they in which they censor the news then so be it, you'll get no argument from me, but if you truly care about your privacy and the transparency of elected officials and the integrity of those who report on those elected officials, why are you not pushing for an investigation into News International? Are you that blind to what is really happening?

      Do you honestly, honestly, believe that press barons somehow have more integrity than govt? That the splash they offer you is all about integrity and holding those in power to account? Could their splash be politically motivated, rather than a  "we need to inform the electorate headline?" Here's a scenario, perhaps both are corrupt. Chew on that one for a while.

      1. profile image0
        Sooner28posted 10 years agoin reply to this

        I have no idea why talking about one story necessitates the impossibility of talking about other stories.  I don't know why you would make such an assumption.

        Furthermore, I was not aware of the victims of 9/11 having their phones hacked.  That's just as disturbing.

        You also cannot universally condemn all of the press.  Is the NY Times not reporting on this now?

        You just have to read stories from the MSM with a critical eye and ask questions, such as what information is being privileged, what information is left out, and what is NOT reported.  Also, attempting to analyze their sources of evidence (which isn't always possible if a source is anonymous) helps too.

        Why would you not be outraged at a reporter being prosecuted?  You just blow it off, and go back to the spying on the 9/11 families.  Like you said, BOTH are corrupt, but why downplay the recent one so much?  And what part of the press did it?

        1. HollieT profile image84
          HollieTposted 10 years agoin reply to this

          It doesn't necessitate the impossibility of talking about the two, and I not making such an assumption, I'm suggesting that there is a relationship.

          For example, the fact that you are unaware that victims of 9/11 allegedly had their phones hacked says quite a lot about your press and the propensity  to "cover up" it's been written about extensively in the British media for some time.  Just as disturbing as the act itself, is the fact that you are unaware of it.  If I'm aware of it, then surely every media outlet in the US is too. Why have they kept quiet?

          You are right that I cannot condemn all the press, and I certainly didn't intend to- my post was very clumsy. However, how can you critically analyse a splash by making assumptions about what has been left out or included within the story. Asking questions is one thing, but it's hardly a critical analysis if you're not armed with the facts to analyse- the rest is just speculation.

          Why would I not be outraged? Has it not occurred to you that the reporter may have engaged in criminality? Why are you so keen to defend them and be "outraged" when you are not aware of all the facts? We've seen this all before- from one rogue reporter which then turned out to be a fourth estate infected by the cancer of corruption- hacking, harassing, corrupting public officials, blackmail, even murder. But as they are the ones who reported the news, they are pretty skillful when it comes to adopting the role of victim and how all our rights are being violated when it comes to holding news agencies to account for their misdemeanors.

          I'm not suggesting that you downplay it, I'm suggesting that you hold off with the outrage until you ARE aware of the facts. The prosecution will bring forth it's evidence, and the defense will bring forth theirs- until you've heard it, you really can't make assumptions one way or another,

  2. Mighty Mom profile image81
    Mighty Momposted 10 years ago

    Agree with you on this, Wilderness.
    So many lines have blurred in this day and age on both sides.
    National security is much more intricate than ever before.
    Journalism has changed a lot, too. And in many instances, not for the better.
    (Could have something to do with who owns the media... Hmm).
    Does freedom of the press cover any blogger purporting to be a journalist, spouting
    anything they want as "fact" which is really heavily edited (case in point ABC and the emails) or one-sided lies masquerading as insder info? I don't think so.
    I also don't think the founding fathers ever, ever could have envisioned the internet
    making all (or most) information to friend and foe alike.
    The stakes are higher.
    The standards are lower.
    Bad combination.

    I was thinking earlier about Woodward and Bernstein. And wondering how did they ever manage to break a story as huge as Watergate without hundreds of thousands of
    emails to pore through?

  3. innersmiff profile image66
    innersmiffposted 10 years ago

    All of these 'scandals' are technically red-herrings

    Should the IRS be targeting specific groups and individuals for special treatment? No, the IRS should be abolished.

    Should Obama be impeached for the Benghazi debacle? The US shouldn't be in Libya anyway.

    Should the government be violating the privacy of journalists in the name of national security? No, there is no such thing as 'national security'.


    If we don't actually question the very nature of these things, no palpable change will be forthcoming. It is the IRS's job to appropriate resources from people, and it has the incentive to do so in the most draconian way possible until it is abolished. Do we criticise the slave-master for whipping some slaves more than others?

    If the US hadn't stuck its nose into Libya and deliberately destabilised it, the Benghazi situation would not have occurred in the first place. This should be a great opportunity to question the practicality of interventionism! Instead, the suggestion is that if it wasn't for this unfortunate incident, everything in Libya would be going swimmingly well, when this is far from the truth. Apparently, we're only supposed to care when Americans die.

    The real scenario we are experiencing here with 'national security' is 'government security'. The government's primary objective, contrary to fantastical notions of 'welfare of the people' or something like that, is self-preservation. Allowing AP to get anywhere that might threaten the government in any small way is unacceptable, and so they've been made an example of. This is what happens when anybody delves beyond what the MSNBC/Fox News paradigm tells you. Boston and Benghazi show us that leaving our own security to the government is a fool's game. They suck at it. But you know what they're really great at? Protecting themselves.

    But what will happen now is that some puppet from some irrelevant government department will get fired (and probably move to some other department), and things move on as they are. Go back to bed America, your government has solved everything, the Jersey Shore is beckoning you.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      You may be right in that we don't need the IRS or the money it collects to build roads, airports, water or sewer plants.  We would be better off with half the country dying from starvation or disease from raw sewage pouring through the streets.

      Nor do we need embassies in foreign countries; better to simply close our borders totally, pull our heads in like turtles and have no contact with the rest of the world. 

      And certainly we do not need any national security.  There is no one in the world wanting what we have, hating us or wishing us harm.  We need no security - better to tell the world exactly what we are doing at all times so that they can accomplish the harm they wish us more easily.

      1. innersmiff profile image66
        innersmiffposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Do you honestly think the market completely incapable of producing roads, airports, water or sewer plants? I think you need to re-find your inner capitalist.

        I don't want to be misleading, but there has to be a distinction to be made between not destabilising countries through aggression and "pull our heads in like turtles". There are more options than 'interventionism' and 'isolationism'. What about peace?

        As I say, there is no national security, only government security. The hate that America's government experiences is a direct result of its war-program across the world. If you have any interest in the security of the people, you should be standing with me against American militarism.

        1. wilderness profile image96
          wildernessposted 10 years agoin reply to this

          No, private business cannot build roads.  Stay away from the coastal states and 50 miles from any metropolitan area and you won't find a road in the country that can be built and paid for via tolls.  It is far too expensive and tolls have to be far too high to make it feasible.

          Likewise for water and sewer.  Outside of metropolitan areas the cost isn't too bad, but inside the sheer task of providing hundreds or thousands of miles of underground service (under, mind you, all the roads and subways) is absolutely prohibitive for private enterprise.  The treatment plant, yes, but not the lines servicing each and every building. 

          Peace?  Do you then believe that if we declare we want peace everyone will leave us alone?  They won't use economic warfare against us?  That 911 would not have happened?  That Iraq would not have invaded Kuwait?  Peace does not come from deciding you want it; it comes from a willingness and ability to DEMAND it.

          I guess we will have to disagree on what national security is.  I define it as preventing terrorism.  As keeping our secrets secret.  As not allowing the economic warfare mentioned, or not allowing complete industrial espionage from another country (China, maybe).  These things all affect me directly, not just the US government.

    2. profile image0
      Sooner28posted 10 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with the Benghazi and National Security analysis.  Did you know the website is suing the FBI for snooping on them?

      1. innersmiff profile image66
        innersmiffposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, and I'm glad. Questioning the warfare state is a duty, not a crime.

  4. maxoxam41 profile image64
    maxoxam41posted 10 years ago

    When freedom of speech is gagged, it is the beginning of dictatorship. Is it new? No. Manning and wikileaks's boss are perfect examples. Through our taxes we pay them, therefore they should commit to us.

  5. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 10 years ago

    I don't think this investigation did anything to impair freedom of speech.   It related to material found by one agency for security reasons.  Spreading it around could well do genuine harm. The agency was not obliged to tell the world what it found any more than a private individual is obliged to blog every thing they ever learn about other people (or though some do, I suppose).

    1. profile image51
      Lie Detectorposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Then again, you wouldn't! Your guys are shutting people up and intimidating private citizens, its all good.

      1. psycheskinner profile image83
        psycheskinnerposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Whose guys? 

        I have no idea what you are referring to.

        1. profile image51
          Lie Detectorposted 10 years agoin reply to this

          Your guys, Obama,Holder,Clinton any number of thugs that commit these acts. If this were a republican there wouldn't be enough duct tape to keep your head from exploding. But since its Obama and gang everything is good.

          1. psycheskinner profile image83
            psycheskinnerposted 10 years agoin reply to this

            I have no idea how they are my guys.  I have never voted for any of them.  But do proceed with your assumptions if it makes you happy.

            1. profile image51
              Lie Detectorposted 10 years agoin reply to this

              You don't have to vote for them to agree with their philosophy of intimidation.

              1. psycheskinner profile image83
                psycheskinnerposted 10 years agoin reply to this

                Nice circular reasoning.  Not sure what it adds to the discussion about valid source of evidence in police investigations.

                1. profile image51
                  Lie Detectorposted 10 years agoin reply to this

                  Not worth responding to.

    2. innersmiff profile image66
      innersmiffposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      There is no obligation, but freedom of speech is not an obligation, it is a sacrosanct right.

      1. wilderness profile image96
        wildernessposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Obviously not - freedom of speech is most definitely limited, just as it should and must be.

        1. psycheskinner profile image83
          psycheskinnerposted 10 years agoin reply to this

          Unless they are speaking of government suppression of protected speech, exactly. There are miriad things one is not allowed to say.

          Which is all beside the point.  The reporter is allowed to say anything, he is even allowed to convince someone to commit a crime, that is why he wasn't charged.

          The person who was charged was leaking material created by other people against their express wishes.  Which is more like theft that free speech.

          Thus reminds me of people who pirate my books citing their idea of their freedoms. Maybe they should write their own work to be free with, and stop pirating mine which I wish to use for my own purposes and not have it shared freely. Sometimes the important right is of the person/s who *made* the material.

          1. wilderness profile image96
            wildernessposted 10 years agoin reply to this

            Well put; I like your example of book (or hub) theft.  Another might be an employee with a confidentiality agreement who then sells company secrets to a competitor. 

            It has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with theft.  But who, then, "owns" government information?  Every citizen?  Or the "corporate citizen" we call government?

            1. psycheskinner profile image83
              psycheskinnerposted 10 years agoin reply to this

              In an immediate sense the agency (via the contributing workers create it) hold the rights ("work for hire"?). And what that agency can do with the material is a matter of law subject to democratic process.

              IMHO if the public really want every stitch of government material to be public they could do that, but I would vote against it.  Imagine the consequences!

              If the material really needed to be made public for the public good, I think that would be different.  Like if it related to human rights abuses, or risks to the public.

  6. Ralph Deeds profile image64
    Ralph Deedsposted 10 years ago

    Legal principles and public policy pose complex issues:

    Not All Sources Are Equal

    By ANTHONY LEWIS Published: March 7, 2007 NY Times


    THE conviction yesterday of I. Lewis Libby Jr. on perjury and other charges, after a trial with a parade of press witnesses, leaves a legacy of intensified concern about legal proceedings that force journalists to disclose confidential sources. It is a legitimate and urgent concern. Without the ability to promise confidentiality, the press would have been unable to report notorious abuses of government power from Watergate through the Bush administration's violations of fundamental rights in the "war on terror."

    But it is much easier to see the danger than to agree on a way to stop it. That is because there are compelling interests on both sides of the problem, as many in the press are loath to admit.

    Consider libel. In its 1964 decision, New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court held that public officials (and, by a later decision, public figures) could not recover damages in a libel suit unless they proved that someone had published a falsehood about them knowingly or recklessly. The court defined recklessly to mean that the author of the falsehood was aware of its probable untruth. That gave the press enormous protection.

    Suppose that a federal shield law - the kind of statute that many in the press have been urging Congress to enact - gave journalists an absolute right not to disclose confidential sources. Then a reckless journalist could write that according to a confidential source, a cabinet member had taken a bribe or a Hollywood star had sexually abused a child actor - and the victim of the article would be unable to show that the source was biased or that the reporter had misused the information. The victim would effectively be barred from recovering damages for the grave injury to his or her reputation.

    These are not fanciful possibilities. Think about the case of Wen Ho Lee, the government scientist who was described in various press reports as a spy for China. He was arrested, charged with 59 felony counts and held in solitary confinement for nine months. Eventually the government dropped all the counts but one, a charge that he had mishandled information retroactively classified as "secret" after he was fired, and he pleaded guilty to that. The judge who accepted the plea apologized to Mr. Lee and said officials had "embarrassed our entire nation."

    Wen Ho Lee sued the government for violation of his privacy in leaks to the press. The Boston Globe said in an editorial that the leaks came from an official "with a reputation for right-wing zealotry and racist behavior." But when reporters were subpoenaed and asked to name their sources, they understandably resisted.

    In that situation, would it have been right for the journalists to have an absolute privilege against having to testify? Then Mr. Lee would have had no recourse. I do not think a decent society should give that answer.

    The remedy in such a civil case is not to put reporters in jail in order to force them to testify. It is, rather, to make the press pay for the injury it caused. And that is what actually happened in the Lee case. Five news organizations, including The Times, agreed to pay Wen Ho Lee $750,000 altogether - which they said was not to compensate him for his injury but to protect their journalists and the right to confidential sources. And the government contributed $895,000 toward Mr. Lee's legal fees.

    I do not think the press can have both the Sullivan decision and a privilege not to testify in civil cases. Otherwise the decision would be a license for reckless or even deliberate falsification, which the author of the Sullivan opinion, Justice William J. Brennan Jr., certainly did not favor.

    Criminal prosecutions raise different problems. Prosecutors used to shy away, generally, from pressing journalists to name sources. But lately they are doing so with increasing frequency. Why? Perhaps because the press does not have as much support in public opinion as it used to. Whatever the reason, the danger of crippling the investigative function of journalism is increasing.

    (Page 2 of 2)

    Congress seems unlikely to give the press what it wants, an absolute shield against having to testify in federal cases. To increase the chance of passage, it has been suggested that shield legislation include an exception allowing journalists to be subpoenaed when there is an imminent threat to national security.

    That exception seems to me to invite trouble. The most important press disclosures in our time have had to do with what the government claims is national security: The New York Times's disclosure of President Bush's order to wiretap without warrants in violation of law, for example, and The Washington Post's reports about secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons.

    The government is always quick to claim that the national security sky will fall if a story is published. It did so, notoriously, in the Pentagon Papers case. And judges are too often overawed by such claims. A recent example was the shameful decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that the doctrine of "state secrets" barred a man who showed convincingly that he was kidnapped and abused by the C.I.A. from suing.

    There is also the possibility that a criminal defendant, rather than the prosecution, will ask for a journalist's testimony. If that testimony might in fact be helpful, should the law allow the journalist to be silent and the defendant to be convicted? Even if the press had an absolute privilege, I think the courts would free the defendant because he was denied a fair opportunity to make his defense.

    Or consider the recent case of two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who quoted documents from a grand jury investigating drug use by major league baseball players. The reporters refused to disclose their source for the documents, but were saved from jail when federal prosecutors unearthed the source themselves. He was a lawyer who had represented defendants indicted by the grand jury - and who had then demanded that the charges against his clients be dismissed when the story based on his leak appeared. Do we want to protect that kind of trickery? Surely, many journalists would not.

    THOSE are some of the conflicting interests at stake on the issue of a testimonial privilege for the press. Can Congress figure them all out in a qualified privilege statute specifying in detail when journalists should have a privilege? I doubt it. I think a statute will have to leave the balancing of interests to be done by judges, case by case.

    One respected judge, David Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has made a wise proposal. It is that the courts use their power to define privileges - a power affirmed by statute - to give a qualified privilege to journalists.

    Judge Tatel's proposal is aimed at the typical leak case: when a federal prosecutor is trying to find the source of a leak and subpoenas journalists. Judge Tatel suggests that a judge in this situation should weigh the public interest in the leaked material against the damage alleged by the government. If the leak were, say, the fact of the government's lawless wiretapping, it is easy for me to see that the public interest should prevail.

    Judges are not always wise. But in our system they are the ones we trust to weigh acutely conflicting interests. In the wake of the Libby case, Congress should pass legislation that makes clear the public interest in journalists' confidentiality but leaves it to judges to weigh that against other social necessities.


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