Mike Rogers Tries To Make The Case That Glenn Greenwald Should Be Prosecuted For 'Selling Stolen Material'

from the is-he-insane? dept

Rep. Mike Rogers apparently just can’t help but spin wild and ridiculous conspiracy theories. Fresh off his latest attempt to argue that Ed Snowden is a Russian spy — an argument debunked by just about everyone, including his Senatorial counterpart Dianne Feinstein — it appears he’s now decided to pick up the ridiculously insane thread kicked off (purposefully) last week by Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, hinting that journalists who reported on Ed Snowden are somehow “accomplices” who can be prosecuted.

During a House Intelligence Committee in which many members (from both parties) angrily criticized the intelligence community, Rogers continued to do everything possible to defend them, including pushing the bogus argument that Glenn Greenwald “sold stolen goods” in questions to FBI director James Comey:

REP. ROGERS: You — there have been discussions about selling of access to this material to both newspaper outlets and other places. Mr. Comey, to the best of your knowledge, is fencing stolen material — is that a crime?


REP. ROGERS: And would be selling the access of classified material that is stolen from the United States government — would that be a crime?

DIR. COMEY: It would be. It’s an issue that can be complicated if it involves a news-gathering and news promulgation function, but in general, fencing or selling stolen property is a crime.

REP. ROGERS: So if I’m a newspaper reporter for — fill in the blank — and I sell stolen material, is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?

DIR. COMEY: Right, if you’re a newspaper report and you’re hocking stolen jewelry, it’s still a crime.

REP. ROGERS: And if I’m hocking stolen classified material that I’m not legally in possession of for personal gain and profit, is that not a crime?

DIR. COMEY: I think that’s a harder question because it involves a news-gathering functions — could have First Amendment implications. It’s something that probably would be better answered by the Department of Justice.

REP. ROGERS: So entering into a commercial enterprise to sell stolen material is acceptable to a legitimate news organization?

DIR. COMEY: I’m not sure I’m able to answer that question in the abstract.

REP. ROGERS: It’s something we ought to think about, is it not?

DIR. COMEY: Certainly.

REP. ROGERS: And so if there are accomplices in purveying stolen information, shouldn’t we be concerned about that?

DIR. COMEY: We should be concerned about all the facts surrounding the theft of classified information and its promulgation.

REP. ROGERS: Hmm. And interesting that over the — again, the Munich Conference, where we had individuals tell us that in fact there are individuals who are saying to be in possession of this information who are eager to sell this information to other news organizations, would that be a legitimate exercise on behalf of a reporter?

DIR. COMEY: That’s a question — now you’re getting from the general to the particular. I don’t want to talk about the case in particular because it’s an active investigation of ours.

REP. ROGERS: It’s an active investigation for accomplices brokering in stolen information?

DIR. COMEY: We are looking at the totality of the circumstances around the theft and promulgation.

Glenn Greenwald is not named, but that’s clearly who they are targeting. A few folks have brought up the ridiculous charges of him “selling” the Snowden leaks to news organizations, but that’s clearly bullshit. Greenwald has been doing freelance journalism work for a while. Publications pay him in the same way they pay any freelancer. He’s not selling any documents at all — and in fact has shared many of the documents with multiple publications for their own reporting activities.

It’s pretty clear that Rogers is continuing his desperate, despicable and downright McCarthy-like arguments in an attempt to create chilling effects and to protect his friends in the intelligence community. You’d think that someone who is supposed to uphold the Constitution would respect the freedom of the press, but Rogers seems to be actively trying to stifle it — just like his staff did to me last year, when they lied about me and told reporters that they could sue me for defamation.

Rogers has shown time and time again that he’s little more than a lumbering bully who will do pretty much anything to protect his friends in the intelligence community, even if that means trampling all over the Constitution. Rogers can push these claims as much as he wants. I think it’s unlikely that the DOJ would go anywhere near charging a reporter with “selling stolen goods” in a case like this, because they know that argument would almost certainly fail. That means the only reason Rogers is doing this is to try to scare off people with bluster and threats. Thankfully, most of the people that’s targeted at actually understand the law and the Constitution, and take such threats as clear suggestions that they’re on the right track. It all makes you wonder, just what does Mike Rogers want to keep hidden so badly?

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Comments on “Mike Rogers Tries To Make The Case That Glenn Greenwald Should Be Prosecuted For 'Selling Stolen Material'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Not tangible property

Someone should have stopped him when he used the term “stolen” and reminded him that information is not tangible property, and cannot be stolen.

Information can be revealed, copied, etc, but not stolen…

Now, if these “documents” where physical artifacts, and the originals had been removed – they could per-chance claim that the paper documents were stolen, and therefore must be returned – but that still wouldn’t prevent someone from copying them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not tangible property

It easily becomes a purely academic discussion in that case since “stealing secrets” is such a common dogma and often associated with using a copyer of sorts to avoid suspision of the deed. Is a copy from a copyer theft? You can easily argue that it is on account of the ownership of the paper. If the paper and ink is brought there the problem is more about illegal possession or threspassing. That stealing is associated with a physical object, is to the person who “lose his control” of the work to endless copying by others, a merely theoretical and absurd postulate.

That government will use anything related to property rights as a camouflage for their trouble defining the punishment for breaking their “duty of confidentiality” is the troubling part. Stealing is just a decoy, the crime they want punished is breaking the only partially overt code of conduct. For that, no civil crime is equitable.

Dave Xanatos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not tangible property

It is not academic when a congressman is directly suggesting that publishing state secrets is the same as fencing stolen property. Legal definitions for those activities already exist and muddying the waters by conflating two completely different activities by relying on how they are referred to in the vernacular doesn’t create a productive conversation.

Another way of thinking of it is the difference between a literal and figurative definition. Mike Rogers might figuratively be a ‘scumbag’, but unfortunately he can’t be declared a public health hazard like a literal bag of scum could be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not tangible property

Who says Roger’s wants to have a productive conversation? Quite the contrary, he wants to misdirect and confuse to conversation as much as possible in a vain attempt to derail it’s inevitable conclusion that what they are doing is unconstitutional, needs to be halted, and the people responsible for it need to be held accountable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That foreign states made fools of the USA into going mega-scared caused by the official leaders at the time (well, some of them) being so stupid as to believe aluminum tubes, no matter how fast they go, cannot poke holes into reinforced steel and their laughable cover up they came up with that NIST official 911 story and that this whole extreme paranoia of the security apparatus would greatly hurt the US, while benefiting a handful of other states.

tl;dr Dick Cheney never did any physics classes and is dumb as a brick and killed his own nation more than it’s competitors and foes could have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Look Mr. Rogers, you dipshit, the First Amendment right of freedom of the press refers to the right to disseminate information to the public in general and applies to ALL citizens not just professional reporters and news organizations so the fact that we are talking about a professional reporter here has absolutely no bearing on the conversation. If Snowden had decided to set up his own website to publish the information all by himself, he would have had THE SAME FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT to freedom of the press, you moron.

Anonymous Coward says:

Robin Hood to the rescue

The sphincter that is commonly referred to as Rogers is an accomplice to the greatest crime in American history. Since he knowingly and willing condone the illegal behavior, he should be one of the first to be arrested in these crimes against the state. And, if it were possible to have stolen the information – the information about a crime being committed – is stealing from the primary thieves and returning it to the original owners – the USA’s citizens. So, can one steal from a thief – return the stolen goods to the owner – and be held up as a hero? Sounds like a new age Robin Hood. Is that story under copyright? Maybe that Rogers character is guilty of infringement as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

The usual tactic in progress and action. It’s called smear the creditability. It is used by the FBI, NSA, CIA, and to some extent legal authorities.

Those groups are butt hurt their precious has been exposed. Here they’ve been successful in circumventing the Constitution and it’s intent. Suddenly Snowden has shown the public just how bad it is. Now anything that works to shut him up would be supported.

Character assassination, forcing presidential planes down despite diplomatic immunity, violating international law and treaties, even assassination of Snowden appears to be acceptable.

What I don’t see and don’t hear is anyone acknowledging that these various government branches have exceeded their mandate and authority. In fact there is a stone wall there of refusal to recognize it and that speaks more volumes to me than any amount of bad mouthing someone else to cover it up.

out_of_the_blue says:

"little more than a lumbering bully" who provides Mike with filler.

By the way, you kids are censoring me again! And there’s even one of my clones out, apparently the “lines” moron who still hasn’t figured out the horizontal rule.

Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items. (55 of 195)

Hey kids: if you don’t want to be seen as censoring opinion, it’s real simple: don’t click “report” when comments are within common law! (98 of 195)


DV Henkel-Wallace (profile) says:

Comey comes off OK here

Perhaps I’m giving him too much credit, but Comey comes off as legit in the quoted snippet.

Rogers tries to get Comey to agree with him, but Comey first says, “hey, first amendment but sure, so I don’t call a member of congress an asshole, to be 100% technical: your question, most narrowly construed, is true.” Then he won’t agree with Rogers even though the ball is served up for him to hit. Finally he says, “look, we’re looking into the whole situation” instead of “yes we’re doing the criminal investigation you want us to.”

I think the whole program should be disbanded, but at least here’s one guy from the NSA who does not come off as an ass, at least in this case.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Comey comes off OK here

Comey is Director of the FBI not with the NSA. And though I agree, it’s not as bad as if he agreed with him and played along with Roger’s little game, but you have to understand that Comey’s answer isn’t Comey’s, it’s Obama’s. Obama just last year appointed him to that position. Obama has drawn a clear line in the sand stating that they were not going to pursue journalists and trample on their first amendment rights. For the newly appointed director of the FBI to contradict that would be a big problem for an administration trying to overcome all of the promises they have made and broken.

Also what is disturbing in Comey’s response is that he seems to promote the belief that there are some special first amendment rights that are granted just to professional journalists over all other citizens. This is a dangerous mangling of the language of the first amendment especially with regards to free speech on the Internet. As I said above, and have said many times before, freedom of the press (with a little “p” not a capital one) is about the right to disseminate information to the public and is a right granted to ALL CITIZENS not just professional journalists and news organizations.

DV Henkel-Wallace (profile) says:

Re: Re: Comey comes off OK here

…you have to understand that Comey’s answer isn’t Comey’s, it’s Obama’s.

If one believes that it’s good news, since Alexander’s view is also, by the same definition, Obama’s, especially since Obama hasn’t fired him. If Comey represents Obama (and not Comey’s boss Holder) that is good news.

Also what is disturbing in Comey’s response is that he seems to promote the belief that there are some special first amendment rights that are granted just to professional journalists over all other citizens.

I agree with your comment but note that government is always the laggard, not the vanguard, and the tide does seem to be moving in the right direction on this one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Comey comes off OK here

Alexander is a little different. He’s been in the position at the NSA much longer than Comey has been at the FBI. Alexander is also military guy completely given to the military industrial complex which shapes every thing he says and does in with that background. Alexander will always support what is for the military regardless of politics or who is in power. Comey is just a lawyer. Lawyers are trained to argue the position of their clients as if it was their own view.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike Roger's found a backdoor way to outlaw all journalism

By Mike Roger’s logic, he’s found a backdoor way to outlaw all journalism, despite that pesky 1st amendment freedom of the press.

Reporting on some celebrities affair discovered by someone trespassing on their property? All the money you make from ads, selling papers, etc, are now illegal gains from YOUR trespassing. By profiting from it you’re guilty of trespassing according to Mike Rogers.

Sure we still have freedom of the press, we just throw our journalists in jail for profiting off of their journalism, and don’t give them a means of supporting themselves financially, that’s all.

out_of_the_blue says:

Heh, heh. These censoring kids are now censoring complaints of censoring!

They do as much as can of exactly what accuse others of.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it

out_of_the_blue, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

“little more than a lumbering bully” who provides Mike with filler.
By the way, you kids are censoring me again! And there’s even one of my clones out, apparently the “lines” moron who still hasn’t figured out the horizontal rule.
Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items. (55 of 195)
Hey kids: if you don’t want to be seen as censoring opinion, it’s real simple: don’t click “report” when comments are within common law! (98 of 195)


Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: Heh, heh. These censoring kids are now censoring complaints of censoring!

Let’s not feed the troll. I used to think that outing and bashing her would send her scuttling off to lick her wounds. It doesn’t; she craves the attention she gets here.

Add to that the assumption that “right to speak” = “right to be heard” and you’ll soon discover that her sense of entitlement is through the roof.

Please stop replying to her.

Ray Trygstad (profile) says:

It's not property, and hence, cannot be stolen.

While the argument can be made that it is a shaky interpretation of the law, the only property-type rights to digital data–which all of the Snowden documents are–is copyright, and guess what? None of these documents so far are copyrighted, as (at least all I have seen) have been produced by employees of the U.S. Government acting in an official capacity which are, by law, in the public domain. They may be classified, but they’re still in the public domain. You can’t steal a virtual copy of something in the public domain. Were it a printed copy, Rogers would have an argument, but not for a digital copy. Once again, thanks to the efforts of our ‘buddies’ at RIAA and MPAA, someone conflates making a copy of a digital object with theft.

John85851 (profile) says:

Let's not get distracted

How much of his speeches are bullying and how much is “getting off topic”? Every article that talks about about he wants to charge people (or whatever else) is one less article focussing on the NSA’s abuses. I think people like him are hoping to steer the conversion enough so people get distracted and don’t push for reforms. I just wish more media would push back and call this guy out for what he’s doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Rogers, King, Feinstein, Pelosi, Holder, Obama and all their supporters

I wouldn’t say such things if I was you….

Even if I believed such. I don’t think murder should be an actual option in a civilized nation, yes, even when tossing out the corrupt. Do not be irresponsible and cause this great site unwarranted scrutiny.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

The problem with Rogers

Did you know that before he was a CongressCritter, Mike Rogers was a FBI agent?

That’s right-from the Wikipedia article about him:

“He worked as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its Chicago office, specializing in organized crime and public corruption, 1989?1994. He is a member of the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

That means he thinks like a Fed, which means we, the people of this country are all suspects until proven otherwise.

He does not condone going against the rules. He will support all government activities as long as he can do so.

It’s called “Believing in the Mission” and it’s endemic amongst cops, military and Feds. Anyone who dares to question the “Mission” is a traitor and should be tried as one.

That especially goes for those horrible people called ‘journalists’ who dare question authority.

Anyone who is on the outside of the Mission does not have the right to question or investigate it, thank you very much.

So he’s just protecting his own turf, according to his mindset and beliefs.

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