Thursday, July 18, 2013

Who Are The Nine People Prosecuted By The USA For Espionage For Leaking Secrets To The Press?

1.0 Introduction

This is a current affairs post, usually outside what I blog about.

I have found the count in the post title echoed in several publications, for example:

"...Historically, the vast majority of leak-related investigations have turned up nothing conclusive, and several of the nine that have been prosecuted — six already under the Obama administration, and just three more under all previous presidents — collapsed...

...Many people are surprised to learn that there is no law against disclosing classified information, in and of itself. The classification system was established for the executive branch by presidential order, not by statute, to control access to information and how it must be handled. While officials who break those rules may be admonished or fired, the system covers far more information than it is a crime to leak.

Instead, leak prosecutions rely on a 1917 espionage statute whose principal provision makes it a crime to disclose, to persons not authorized to receive it, national defense information with knowledge that its dissemination could harm the United States or help a foreign power." -- Charlie Savage, New York Times, 9 June 2012.

"Only three times in its first 92 years was the Espionage Act of 1917 used to prosecute government officials for leaking secret information to the press. However, the current administration has already brought six charges under this Act. The accused in all of these cases appear to represent whistleblowers, not those engaged in attempted espionage for foreign governments that 'aid the enemy.'" -- Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

2.0 Possible List

Maybe these are those being discussed:

  1. Daniel Ellsberg: Famous for the Pentagon Papers.
  2. Anthony Russo: Also involved in disseminating the Pentagon Papers.
  3. Samuel Loring Morison: Only person ever convicted, in a trial, for espionage for leaking classified information to the press.
  4. John Kiriakou
  5. William Binney.
  6. J. Kirk Wiebe.
  7. Ed Loomis.
  8. Thomas Drake.
  9. Bradley Manning: Involved with Wikileaks.

Apparently, Scooter Libby was not indicted and tried for espionage. The Espionage Act of 1917 was modified by the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950, I guess.

3.0 Possible Future Additions

Possibly, Edward Snowden and Retired General James Cartwright (for leaking, maybe, about Stuxnet) will be added sometime to the above list.

(Somewhere in Democracy in America, as I remember it, Alexis de Tocqueville observes that political disputes in the United States almost always become legal disputes.)


Anonymous said...

Is this exclusively discussing leaks to the press? Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed under the Espionage Act.

Emil Bakkum said...

Joke: He: The birds fly in formation to the south.
She: Nonsense. Information is sent through internet.
(just as funny in German and Dutch)