June 11th, 2013
10:58 PM ET
10 years 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."

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soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. Omar Faruk

    Reblogged this on Omar Faruk and commented:
    Perhaps, the dumbest suggestion in the world! Are you suppose to allow the government to do whatever it wants? The government cant have "oversight" over itself, it doesn't make sense.

    June 11, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  2. charlies curry

    Ok, Its like this my fellow Americans why should we give up are basic freedoms?cause our goverment tells us it makes us safer???????Hmmm ????Are we not all Americans ????? Born with these rights???? oh ,but now for the better good its ok ????????? how many times will they tell us this .yes you were born free but see we are at war now so we really need to know whats going on in your personal life .emails ??? how about just tapping into the ones thats are killing us hmmm???

    June 11, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  3. israel

    i know who i will be voting against the next election cycle in new york. Rep King clearly needs a refresher on the bill of rights specifically the right to FREE SPEECH.

    June 12, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  4. Woman In California

    I can't help but wonder if (s)nowden and the journalists involved, would apply this same kind of "patriotism" and concern for American citizens under previous presidents. Never have I witnessed such treason as I have in the last five years. snowden needs to be hung and hung swiftly – to set an example to ANY that might want to follow.

    June 12, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  5. Thomas

    King leads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism.

    King / Issa / Paul

    3 of a kind

    June 12, 2013 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  6. craniumcramp

    Let me see if I got this straight. Rep Peter king wants to file charges against a member of the press. The same press the is guaranteed the rights of being free. This said press was reporting on a story about the freedoms and liberties of every person protected by the constitution.

    I beg the great people of New York, PLEASE.......PLEASE........Remove this man from office.......Before its to late.

    June 12, 2013 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  7. J.V.Hodgson

    Snowden should be caught and tried under the espionage act. THROW THE BOOK AT HIM.
    This whole thing stinks from end to end, and it stinks of some very smart Journalism as well!! Why he leaked it to the Guardian in the UK first ostensibly then the Washington post or whatever repeats Guardian reporting . guess what that obviates the Wash post need to check with DOJ before also printing and avoids risks of prosecution, claiming already in the public domain!! Not me boss. They do it knowing full well it further fuels the debate re the AP investigation.
    To some extent it ( Snowden Leak) has backfired especially in congress. The why is simple in two parts:-
    1) IT was passed ( Patriot Act) with huge majorities 2001 and 2006 By both houses and renewed
    2) Consequently also if the Patriot act sections (Read the Acronym for Patriot) were found unconstitutional by the supreme court then everyone in congress who voted for it could technically be "IMPEACHED."
    I have bet!! Watch ISSA et al deal with this investigation by Senate or whoever very quietly including mostly off camera or non public sessions mainlly.

    June 12, 2013 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  8. charlies curry

    My fellow Americans let us remember our fathers, our mothers there motheros and so on let us remember our hardships our pains.And How for we have come in the name of liberty& freedom! Let us not forget our mistakes we have made taking freedom from a race, color & creed and don'nt let us Ever forgot how for we come In the name of Freedom And Now my fellow Americans as freedom is threated we have stuff choices to make to give Up freedom for incertainty or look danger in the eye shouting freedom !!!freedom!!! still rings!!! from Sea to shining Sea. I made my choice its time to make yours god bless you all and GOD bless America!!!

    June 12, 2013 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  9. James Dillinger

    Outrageous. Can there be any other reasonable reaction? Review Eisenhower's farewell speech on youtube and realize that America as the thousands who fought and died for knew it, is no more...

    June 12, 2013 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  10. Ceily

    Snowden should make a stand, and take the NSA to court for violating his 4th amendment rights. And if they attempt to prosecute him, then he should also include charges against his 1st amendment rights.

    Does it say anywhere in the constitution that free speech is protected EXCEPT when it is used to protect other constitutional rights for yourself and other Americans? Got my point?

    By prosecuting him, the US is saying that you do not have a right to protect your constitutional rights. That is some pretty serious stuff right there.... That is the Tyranny and a punishable offense. The government was wrong here, no way around that one.

    King, the breaking of our 4th amendment rights is treason. And your defense of charging Snowden and the press is also treason. We will make sure you are one of the first to be charged.

    June 12, 2013 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  11. Rob

    Of course he does. They got caught spying on us AGAIN. Instead of the Washington Communist party correcting their behavior, they want to punish those that told on them. I think King and all those that support it, including Obama should be fired and the NSA should be jailed.

    June 12, 2013 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  12. Gurgyl

    -how about the people that oppose government that needs surveillance for the protection of American people and it's borders–like GOP idiots that oppose?

    June 12, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  13. jpmichigan

    This government has had PRISM in the works for years, but yet could not stop the Boston bombing, even though the Russians told them of the terrorist connection of the accused bombers. So how well is collecting all this data been, or is it Phase 2, to the IRS targeting of groups and individuals?

    June 12, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  14. thomase

    For the second amendment! Against the fourth amendment!

    Clearly having guns is more important than spreading important information.

    June 12, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  15. Rick McDaniel


    King is promoting dictatorial control of America, and that is totally unacceptable.

    June 12, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  16. Name Uche Agonsi

    If the law provides for penalty against leakage of classified documents/information, then culprit should face the law. Media/Press freedom should not be interpreted as privilege without obligation or restriction. There is growing need to define the limits of media freedom. Having said this, lets remind Americans that want Security without breaches of their privacy rights, which seems untenable under our current circumstance. The options are....... Wait for Obama regime to expire, then make Snowden your Presidential Candidate....or like Snowden, abandon US to live in HongKong, Greenland, or even Mars or the Moon, .....OR kill yourselves. To impeach Obama means you will have Biden to settle. He likes Obama policies. The final option is to suggest alternative security system that will protect your privacy. This will however do away with every individual(s) & devices involved in security that is connected to surveillance ........like NSA, CIA, FBI, Defence Aircrafts, Ships , Security Cameras, Communication gaggets, name it.........Goodluck.

    June 12, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    I agree completely with Rep. King. They broke the law and should be held accountable.

    June 12, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  18. RINO Bil

    Did King ever call for punishing Robert Novak when he out CIA operative Valerie Plame?

    Of course not! King is your standard partisan puke.

    June 12, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  19. Norma Vessels

    I can't tell you how relieved I am to actually hear Republican Peter King come right out and say what needs to be said .. that any and all who leak classified information from our Government, no matter which branch or company, should and would be punished by loss of their job, or jail time. No one has the right to release dangerous information to the enemy, and putting our people who work silently for our Government, in danger, themselves. No one.

    June 12, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  20. Michele

    Gee Rep King, where were you when an active CIA agent was outed as a matter of personal pay-back? That was OK, huh?

    June 12, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  21. Steve

    AlQueda all ready knows us intelligence data mines phone calls. King is naive or intentionally not being truthful.

    June 12, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  22. Frank

    Now that America knows that the government has essentially nullified the 4th amendment they want to prosecute those that made us aware of it?

    That should scare the daylights out of all Americans.

    June 12, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  23. ricardo1968

    Punishing journalists goes way to far. I understand that secrets must be kept in war, but let's not forget the first amendment.

    June 12, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  24. max

    Thank you Rep King for your opinion, I guess the idea that the free press is the only salvation we have against a tyrannical government, well's that beyond your scope.
    I agree with you, let's shoot the messenger, in fact lets just close all news media and let you congress people decide what we need to hear, eat, where we need to work, and what clothes we need to wear, isn't that thinking more in tune with your ideology??? We are so blessed to have narrow minded people like you represent us in our Government, heck i can't think of any reason why you shouldn't run for President, I know you'll get at least one vote. loser

    June 12, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  25. Derek

    Absolutely not. If the NSA hadn't been violating several US federal laws by collecting every piece of information they could then this would not have been necessary. I say THANK YOU!!

    June 12, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
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