Attorney General Believes Reporters can be Prosecuted
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday he believes journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, citing an obligation to national security.
The nation's top law enforcer also said the government will not hesitate to track telephone calls made by reporters as part of a criminal leak investigation, but officials would not do so routinely and randomly.
"There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility," Gonzales said, referring to prosecutions. "We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected."
So like the terrorists that the reporters and media tipped off, reporters now can move to disposable cell phones to help bypass having themselves be investigated for leaking classified material to the public to make headlines.
Well, it is nice our government is willing to enforce the Laws on the books when it is convienent for them (or perhaps because things have become inconvienent for them). Other laws have been broken that seem to get a pass, from immigration to drunken senators crashing thier cars.
Yes I am a bit jaded when it comes to our government talking about enforcing laws on the books. As I said, when it is convienent for them is when I see this as being touted - but if it was inconvienent for them, they suddenly look like a bunch of kittens trying to cover crap in the litterbox.
In recent months, journalists have been called into court to testify as part of investigations into leaks, including the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's name as well as the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program.
Gonzales said he would not comment specifically on whether The New York Times should be prosecuted for disclosing the NSA program last year based on classified information.
He also denied that authorities would randomly check journalists' records on domestic-to-domestic phone calls in an effort to find journalists' confidential sources.
"We don't engage in domestic-to-domestic surveillance without a court order," Gonzales said, under a "probable cause" legal standard.
But he added that the First Amendment right of a free press should not be absolute when it comes to national security. If the government's probe into the NSA leak turns up criminal activity, prosecutors have an "obligation to enforce the law."
"It can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," Gonzales told ABC's "This Week."
I agree that our individual rights should not trump the protection of the whole.
Freedom of the Press means we are not censoring, or limiting what you can and cannot print, but we also have Laws on the books that need to be followed, decency laws, and laws covering publishing classified material. Laws that must be followed and failing that, you should be charged accordingly.
If someone was to 'leak' the codes for our Nuclear Silos, or a backdoor into say the NSA Database or how to bypass Airport Security, does that mean you have the right in Freedom of the Press to publish such information if it was leaked to you?
No you do not.
When is a right limited, I would believe, is when that right can and will put other citizens at risk of harm, injury or death.
When classified information is leaked to the press about something that is significant in National Security (protecting America), I would say that constitutes a very serious breach against the saftey of America, which should be investigated to its fullest and the individuals responsible should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law.