CNN reporter Jake Tapper appeared on the network’s morning show Starting Point Wednesday with a response to a Republican member of Congress who said Tuesday he wants to see reporters being prosecuted for breaking stories about the National Security Agency (NSA).
That member of Congress is Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he thinks Guardian and Washington Post reporters should face charges if they knew the information they were publishing was classified. King added that it’s already been done several times in recent years, although it has not, giving Tapper a perfect touching-off point.
“The Obama Justice Department has shown a willingness to go after leakers more aggressively than previous presidents,” he said Wednesday morning on CNN. “In fact, they’ve used the Espionage Act more times than all other presidents combined to go after leakers.”
He added that reporters have not yet been prosecuted by the Obama administration, although some have been looked upon as potential co-conspirators with individuals who leaked government information.
And therein lies the problem with King’s proposal, he said. “Do you then go back and prosecute everybody who published any of the WikiLeaks? Do you prosecute every journalist who publishes any sort of national security story? It just creates too many problems and I can’t anticipate that happening.”
Asked by a fellow CNN personality whether the NSA revelations have done any real damage to national security, he played a clip of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald saying: “I defy anybody to go and look at what we have published over the last week and describe how any of that could have harmed national security.”
He added that if a terrorist doesn’t already know the U.S. is trying to spy on their communications, then they aren’t much of a terrorist to begin with. “Nothing we did helps ‘the terrorists,’” Greenwald insisted. “All we did was tell our fellow citizens in the United States and around the world the extent and capabilities and how vast this surveillance state is and the reasons it needs scrutiny and accountability. The only things we’ve damaged are the reputations of political officials, not national security.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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