Time to Go for the Low-Hanging Fruit

Our so-called “Intelligence Community,” which includes the FBI, CIA, NSA and about 14 other agencies with letters for names, is leaking like a sieve, and it is hurting our country. It has to stop right now!

Every day I pick up the paper, hoping for a headline such as, “Leakers Identified and Arrested!” But every day I am disappointed. At least one reason for my disappointment is that there are probably a gazillion suspects – it could be anyone with access to a shared database, which apparently includes what you and I had for dinner last night.

It would comfort me to know that someone is hunting for the leaker(s), but I doubt they are, or else someone would have leaked that information as well. Our elected representatives can’t or won’t discover where all the leaks are coming from, but we all know for certain where they are going – to reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post.

For almost exactly 100 years, it has been a federal crime punishable by a fine and 10 years in the federal pen to “…knowingly and willfully… publish… any classified information… obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes.” THERE IS NO EXCEPTION FOR “JOURNALISTS!”

We all know exactly what is happening. Some security agency of OUR government is, at the very least, intercepting communications between U.S. citizens and foreigners, recording and transcribing them, and entering them into a computer database.

Someone with authorization is then accessing and downloading the transcripts, and giving or reading them to reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post, which then publish them. The person who provides the information to the press is obviously committing a crime, BUT SO ARE THE REPORTERS, AND SO ARE THE PUBLISHERS.

Motive has nothing to do with it, and any decent lawyer will tell you that “specific intent” is not an element of the offense. That means prosecutors do not have to prove that an accused person “intended to commit a crime,” merely that they “intended to do the act that constitutes the crime.” This is, of course, why Hillary Clinton should be in jail instead of mouthing off at the Wellesley College commencement ceremonies.

Prosecuting newspapers and their reporters for this criminal offense is always a sticky wicket – the First Amendment and the “public’s right to know” and all that. It always involves what lawyers refer to as a “balancing test.”

Take the Edward Snowden case. His massive disclosures got some of our spies killed, BUT he also blew the whistle on our “Intelligence Community,” which was invading the privacy of American citizens on an unlawful scale hitherto unimagined.

What distinguishes the current rash of leaks from the Snowden case is, (1) none of the leaked communications establish any evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the officials involved, and (2) they are calculated merely to embarrass the President, assassinate the character of members of his administration by insinuation and innuendo, and impair and impede the administration’s ability to govern – WHICH IS HURTING THE COUNTRY!

The Obama administration prosecuted seven government employees for leaking classified information to the press, BUT NONE OF THE REPORTERS. They did, however, put one in jail for contempt for refusing to “reveal her source” after being subpoenaed to testify. But that is not the same as charging and prosecuting reporters and their employers for the crime itself.

Now it is time. Let these reporters and their publishers protect their “sources” and spend the next 10 years bent over a toilet in a federal prison. This will undoubtedly have a “chilling effect” on “freedom of the press.” Reporters and publishers would have to think twice about publishing classified information, which is classified for a reason. Time for my favorite little Attorney General elf to grab the low-hanging fruit.

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