June 11th, 2013
10:58 PM ET
1 year ago

King: Journalists in classified leak cases should face punishment

(CNN) – Rep. Peter King said Tuesday night that journalists tied to leaks involving classified programs should be punished along with those who leaked the information.

"If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think actions should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude," King told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

A New York Republican, King leads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism.

His comments come as many in his party have sharply criticized the Department of Justice for seeking a search warrant of a Fox News reporter's emails and phone records following his involvement with a 2009 leak case.

"There is an obligation both moral, but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security," he said. "As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years a number of reporters who have been prosecuted under (the Espionage Act)."

After King's interview, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald responded skeptically on Twitter.

As for the National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, King said there's no doubt he should face charges.

"I think what he's done has been incredible damage to our country. It's going to put American lives at risk," he said.

The congressman did not provide specific examples of how the leaked information damages national security, but argued that it helps enemies of the United States.

"Al Qaeda and its allies now know with great exactitude exactly what we're doing," he said, "and how we're doing it."


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. Greg

    Would someone tell King just to shut up and let the Democrats explain this or even take his position? It is on their watch.

    June 12, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Andrew

    With comments like Congressman King's, we're well on our way to a dictatorship. The government should not be spying on its citizens. Now, I wonder how long it will take for the NSA to take me away.

    June 12, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. suppackman

    I am glad I am not from New York, where their elected officials are more screwier than the next. They seem to be having a contest as to who can violate the very foundation of the United States the most.

    June 12, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. Melissa

    I agree with the Congressman. And the fact that I'm agreeing with a republican disgusts me. But its still true. These people are traitors. Being a reporter doesn't automatically make you exempt from the law.

    June 12, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. SCBAMA

    Now I know why liberals hate conseratives. This guy is just crazy. Government gets caught infringing on our constitutional rights and this guy wants to proscute everyone for exposing it. Sad day for the citizens of this country.

    June 12, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. Greg Clapton

    Terminate the "Reporters" access to any and all government function. No access = no story

    June 12, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. dsangiovanni

    I guess they have to create something else. Enemies of this country already stop whatever they were doing that could be detected...Thank you Mr. Leaker.

    June 12, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. Bill

    Of course, shoot the messenger. Never mind that your agency committed a massive eavesdropping & recording ops, trampling the constitution which you swore to uphold, punish those who pointed out that mistake. Hitler wouldn't be more proud.

    June 12, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. jaana

    how dare anyone question the elected government's methods or means.. (sarc)... we don't live in 1930's Germany.. or do we...

    June 12, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. ncgh

    So, finding out that there is obscenely bad behavior on the part of government agencies, the correct action (according to King) is to punish those who point it out?

    June 12, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. EaglesQuestions

    What about the "obligation both moral, but also legal" to honor the Fourth Amendment?

    June 12, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. Geoffrey Hamilton

    Recall Election, bye King

    June 12, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. Norm

    Mr. King....

    I think you're going to regret this come election time.

    June 12, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. plain&simple

    Which part of the constitution is more important? The point being the document as awhole is the iimportant part. It is the fabric of our way of life and each generation discovers it's vibrancy and versatility through the issues of the day. The constitution is to inspire and promote unity at the same time protecting individual differences. Complex stuff. No going to be resolved today!!!

    June 12, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Bill

    "Al Qaeda and its allies now know with great exactitude exactly what we're doing"

    Really? What exactly have they learned about what you're doing? I thought you guys said Al Qaeda is finished. And weren't their allies were the ones your party comrade Sen. McCain was recently visiting & taking photos with in Syria?

    June 12, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. walker

    I wish this buffoon would just shut up for a while. I

    June 12, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Rememberwhatbushdid

    Rep. King doesn't believe in democracy or the importance of reporting in a democracy. Reporters do not work for you, sir. They work for the public. If you would do your job better abuses against those you have sworn to represent wouldn't happen so often. It is the obligation of a citizenry, and especially journalists in a democracy to report abuses wherever they occur. I would much rather have a free press than live in a country where information about abuses against citizens is withheld. It's bad enough that ever since Reagan de-regulated the broadcast industry for his corporate friends, which led to a planned inflationary spiral leaving only the super corporations able to own our networks and local channels. Now you want to intimidate the real protectors of democracy...the few brave reporters and news outlets who are trying to keep us from becoming even more of a corporatocracy.

    June 12, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  18. ransomstoddard1

    Sounds like Mr. King isn't aware of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

    "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."

    Mr. King seems like an enemy of the state to me.

    June 12, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  19. Larry Moniz in New Jersey

    King is right. So ling as journalists are free to report what really happens with politicians and their efforts to make this nation a totalitarian police state politicians will be forced to invent new political coverups and diversions from the truth. The goal of Republicans and Democrats alike is tp seize power and become wealthy. Then, We the People, like the American Colonists, will ALLbe subjugated and made tools of the crooked politicians throughout all levels of government. With an upcoming election, it's time for Americans to recall the fight waged by our forefathers, including Thomas Paine. We need to remember his booklet "Common Sense" which made Americans visualize their plight in living under tyranny. We also need to remember that "Common" Sense" was the leading best-seeller of its era and provided massive revenues that helped fund the r\Revolution. We need to remember that Paine and Benjamin Franklin were both Journalists and did was ALL reputable journalists strive to do - reveal political corruption in our midsts! Rep. King should read the Federalist Papers so he learns how to be a good politician.

    June 12, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. danita

    my personal life is classified unless I'm breaking the law... Shouldn't you and the administration be punished?

    June 12, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  21. NYVeteran

    Talk about contradiction. Faux News reporters cant be touched for leaks but everyone else is fair game? Did he actually just say that? Ever heard of the First Amendment? A little consistency please? A free and open press is essential to democracy. I am sure the Ayatollahs would agree with Mr. King, as wold Mr Putin who is currently beating up gay people in Russia as he outlaws that too. Conservatives used to guard civil liberties jealously and used to be the party of law and order. Now we censor, suppress and sell illegal guns because a sale is a sale. Free markets and no free trade?

    June 12, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  22. stewart

    King needs to impeached for treason for allowing this in the first place. He swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States maybe he should try reading it

    June 12, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. cedaly1968

    With every passing day my concern regarding our elected officials is growing. The federal government is, in my opinion, nearing a critical tipping point of moving into an Orwellian state of control. Indicting journalists for freedom of the press? Suspending miranda rights? Warrantless spying on U.S. citizens? Rigged congressional districts?

    I am becoming more firm in my belief that it is time for a second constitutional convention to correct the egregious errors in our representative democracy. My fear is that 53% of the people are okay with losing their basic freedoms because they "trust the government" is going to use the data appropriately. Ask Tsaranev about the suspension of his Miranda rights as to how appropriate this is. In the name of freedom, we are sacrificing our freedom.

    June 12, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. KDF

    First of all, I'm sure the more entrenched terrorist groups knew their emails and calls were being watched. Why else would OBL have used a third party to deliver his messages. What idiots the government and rep King is to think otherwise. I agree the press should not out agents by giving names, but they should be allowed to print true stories. If the government cannot keep it secret, then that is their problem. The fact they think this should be kept secret tells me they are out of control and this secret is just the tip of the iceberg. I am glad its out and I do not think it will harm security one little bit. If it does, that is OK because it serves the greater good and if King or anyone else lied about this before congress, they should go to jail, not the journalists. What idiots.

    June 12, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. Raymond

    Wow! Talk about losing rights and liberties. Why not just become a communistic state! Hopefully the voters of his state will not renew his term.

    June 12, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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