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. DT

    King sounds like a 2-year-old who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. How dare he and other elected officials think they have a right to citizens' private information in the name of any covert terrorism eradication system. Dismantle the electronic spy system and get the agents off their lazy behinds and have them actually work for a living instead of playing phone number bingo with all Americans' private information.

    June 12, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  2. newengland2

    Anyone who not protect civil liberty in first place should be removed from office.

    June 12, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  3. Mark

    If King had been around during Watergate he would have been saying the same thing about Woodward and Bernstein. He has zero understanding of this country's Constitution and a person like that has no business in Congress.

    June 12, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  4. Foo Bar

    I think those in Congress that allowed these unconstitutional programs and now support them should be punished. Let's get them out of office!!

    June 12, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  5. Wake up People!

    Am I in the Twilight Zone or possibly the Outer Limits...... ???? This is the third time this week I've agreed with a member of the GOP.

    June 12, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  6. Fred Flinstone

    Most of these politicians have forgotten this is a government for the people, by the people.

    June 12, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  7. Kevin Bartlett

    No, Actually they should prosecute Peter King and the rest of Congress for voting to violate the Constitution of the U.S.A. If they want to emulate Nazi Germany's lust for power then they should suffer the same consequences.

    June 12, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  8. Angry Irish

    Um...Aren't these the same folks ranting about the AP reporters being investigated? Hypocrisy they name is Rethuglican tea terrorist

    June 12, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. are122

    LOL, King just wants to punish everyone. I think he needs anger management. Maybe wake up every morning singing, "I'm so pretty."

    June 12, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  10. DMonte

    We need to try Mr. King for treason and supporting this garbage law, and for signing away our freedoms in the PATRIOT Act. The press should always be protected in matters like this, it's written into our constitution sir. If you have a problem you need to leave.

    June 12, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  11. Victor Morales

    I should go out and do something illegal and when I get caught, my defense will be that the person who witnessed the illegal and told on me should be punished, but not me.

    June 12, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  12. chet

    Punish King for even suggesting that reporters be punished! See how he likes it!

    June 12, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  13. Jocho Johnson

    Punish YOU Peter King for abuse of power and waste of taxpayer dollars

    June 12, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  14. Victor Morales

    in my previous post it should have read "..witnessed the illegal act and told..."

    June 12, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  15. nhguy

    this guy is the real threat to national security with his nazi-like thinking. ever hear of watergate you moron? without reporting and its ability to expose truths we are no better than an oldtime banana republic.

    June 12, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  16. Tennis Guy

    Really punish the press for reporting the truth huh.... Well we know our 4th amendment is being walked all over so why not trample the 1st amendment while we are at it... I hope the voters remember this guys comments next election.

    June 12, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  17. brian gettys

    Would the people of New York Do this country a favor and vote this moron out of office.

    June 12, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  18. ugh

    Dear lord, the "congressman from 9/11" is opening his mouth again. This warmongering totalitarian dirtbag should move to Iran where he belongs.

    June 12, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  19. Pandamonius

    So.....when can we expect the headline with King demanding that Issa drop the inquisition against Holder regarding the AP "scandal"?

    June 12, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  20. Mark

    King has gone off his medications apparently. And they are rather vague on specifics as to what terrorism this system has really prevented – if any, and even more vague on how this puts "lives at risk". It collects data, that is all it does, one enormous data mining project. As for burning the reporters, it really is just shooting the messenger at this point. The genie is already out.

    June 12, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  21. Dude Love

    Peter King should be punished

    June 12, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  22. guest

    Yes, that's all we need. Let's start prosecuting the press for reporting real information while we expand our government surveillance programs. That doesn't sound problematic at all...

    June 12, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  23. Ariel Rosa

    Another example of a politician not knowing how important the press is. It is the duty of the press to disseminate the information they find no matter what the source. I think King has more in common with Eric holder than he thinks.... since he is into criminalizing journalism and all.

    June 12, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  24. SIlo

    Peter King is such an idiot for even saying what he said here. Who gets to decide what's a classified information, and what threatens national security every time a reporter gets an info? Is he advising that the government sensors everything a reporter is receiving? Is he next going to suggest that people who read Leaked classified information be penalized as well? Why don't he move to China if he wanted to live in such a country. Such an idiot! People like him represent us, and that's what's wrong with our system.

    June 12, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  25. Anon

    Rep King: What should the penalty be for enablers and fundraisers of the IRA?

    June 12, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
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