Former Clinton Justice official Neal Katyal says in Time magazine, “Executive branch rules require sensitive classified information to be discussed in specialized facilities that are designed to guard against the possibility that officials are being targeted for surveillance outside of the workplace.”
The law controlling the unwarranted disclosure of classified information that has been gained through electronic surveillance is particularly strict. In the past, everyone from low-level officers in the armed forces to sitting Senators have been investigated by the Justice department for the intentional disclosure of such information. The penalty for “knowingly and willfully” disclosing information “concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States” carries a penalty up to 10 years in prison under U.S. law. “It’s the one you worry about, says the government official familiar with the program.
In response to questions on the legality of Gonzales’ hospital room conversation, Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the National Security Division of the Justice Department, said, “I am not going to speculate on discussions that may or may not have taken place, much less attempt to render a legal judgment on any such discussions.” A Senate investigator says the Judiciary Committee is weighing whether to investigate the matter formally.