Rep. King: NYT Reporters Should Be Charged Under Espionage Act

Posted on  

"Rep. King: NYT Reporters Should Be Charged Under Espionage Act"

The New York Times reported on Friday that the Bush administration has “examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States” allegedly linked to terrorist networks.

This morning, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) argued that the NYT reporters, editors, and publishers responsible for that story should be charged under the Espionage Act, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

[N]o one elected the New York Times to do anything. And the New York Times is putting its own arrogant elitest left wing agenda before the interests of the American people, and I’m calling on the Attorney General to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of the New York Times — its reporters, the editors who worked on this, and the publisher. We’re in a time of war, Chris, and what they’ve done has violated the Espionage Act, the COMINT act.

Watch it:

Moments later, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) called King’s proposal “premature” and paraphrased Thomas Jefferson: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Full transcript below:

WALLACE: Congressman King, let me bring you in on this as well. From what you know, do you have any problems with the Swift program, this tracking of financial records, and what about the argument that if it — even if it was an emergency after 9/11, that five years after the fact, this has become a permanent program and that you should get approval from the courts and Congress?

KING: Chris, I think the administration acted entirely appropriately. The 1976 U.S. Supreme Court case gives them, to me, the absolute right to do this. They’re in full compliance with all statutes. To me, the real question here is the conduct of the New York Times by disclosing this in time of war, they have compromised America’s anti-terrorist policies. This is a very effective policy. They have compromised it. This is the second time the New York Times has done this. And to me, no one elected the New York Times to do anything. And the New York Times is putting its own arrogant elitest left wing agenda before the interests of the American people, and I’m calling on the Attorney General to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of the New York Times — its reporters, the editors who worked on this, and the publisher. We’re in a time of war, Chris, and what they’ve done has violated the Espionage Act, the COMINT act. The time has come for the American people to realize, and the New York Times to realize, we’re at war and they can’t be on their own deciding what to declassify, what to release. If Congress wants to work on this privately, that’s one thing. But for them to, on their own, for the editor of the New York Times to say that he decides it’s in the national interest — no one elected them to anything. Remember, this is the newspaper that brought us Jason Blair. Going back a few years ago, they’re the ones who gave Fidel Castro his job in Cuba. They have no right to do this at all. The First Amendment is not absolute, especially when it comes to something like this, which is a clear violation of statutory law.

« »

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.