It's Come To This: Commentators Arguing That The Press Commits A Crime In Exposing NSA Surveillance
from the sad dept
Of course, there's also that fancy First Amendment, which Thiessen would prefer to ignore:
Greenwald’s crime is violating 18 USC § 798, which makes it a criminal act to publish classified information revealing government cryptography or communications intelligence.
The law is absolutely clear. It states: “Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes , or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information— (1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or (2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or (4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.It would appear that 18 USC 798 is exactly what is forbidden by the First Amendment. It is a law abridging the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Defenders of Thiessen and the NSA will point out that there are lots of times the courts have said this is okay, but I'm not sure what kind of defense that is, other than nitpicking why the First Amendment is something to ignore. Personally, I think that the First Amendment is fairly important, and worry about any laws that appear to push back on the basic concept of it.