Tightening the Grip on Classified Leakers
Posted on Mar 10, 2012
Only nine people are known to have been indicted under the Espionage Act, the law used to prosecute those who interfere with U.S. military operations, mostly by leaking classified information. Six of those cases have been brought by the Obama administration.
ProPublica details each case in a timeline dating back to Daniel Ellsberg’s indictment in 1971 for disclosing the Pentagon Papers. —ARK
The administration has brought a total of six cases under the Espionage Act, which dates from World War I and criminalizes disclosing information “relating to the national defense.” (The Department of Justice has five criminal cases and the Army has one against alleged Wikileaks source Bradley Manning.) Prior to the current administration, there had been only three known cases resulting in indictments in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute government officials for leaks.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice told us the government “does not target whistleblowers.” (Read their full statement below the timeline.) As they point out, government whistleblower protections shield only those who raise their concerns through the proper channels within their agency—not through leaks to the media or other unauthorized persons. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper summed up the government’s approach in a 2010 memo: “people in the intelligence business should be like my grandchildren—seen but not heard.”
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