Thursday, February 02, 2006

Did the New York Times Break the Espionage Act?

That is the question being discussed around the blogosphere today, in reaction to a Commentary piece by Gabriel Shoenfeld, which concludes:

"If information about the NSA program had been quietly conveyed to an al-Qaeda operative on a microdot, or on paper with invisible ink, there can be no doubt that the episode would have been treated by the government as a cut-and-dried case of espionage... The real question that...the Justice Department should be asking is whether, in the aftermath of September 11, we as a nation can afford to permit the reporters and editors of a great newspaper to become the unelected authority that determines for all of us what is a legitimate secret and what is not. Like the Constitution itself, the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of the press are not a suicide pact."

Power Line contains a link to a recent Daily Standard article on the subject by Scott Johnson.

I suspect that the Justice Department lacks the political will to battle the NYT, but I would like to be pleasantly surprised otherwise. If the government complains but otherwise looks the other way, newspapers and other members of the media will be encouraged to commit similar irresponsible acts in future.


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