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. SixDegrees

    "We have to close every single loophole that might allow the American people to know what their government is doing!"

    Rep. King

    June 12, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  2. actionjacks7

    Bet 10 to one, Israel was behind the NSA Spy case.

    June 12, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. musings

    They are showing their true colors these days. The Congress cannot get together to do the People's business, but they can get together to be tyrants over the People. What a big surprise!

    June 12, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. vidal808

    Ooops Rep King, the shoe s now on the other foot he? I love the news now. It's getting more interesting day by day......

    June 12, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. Dave Alexander

    Freedom of the press is what keeps this country honest. It's elected leaders like Mr. King that have created this over-reaching government to begin with. The more I hear statements like this, the more I move from a moderate to a Libertarian. If there was ever a time to replace both Democrats and Republicans with leaders who understand the constitution and the intended role of government, it is NOW.

    June 12, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. BobbaFet

    OMG, I can't believe Im saying this, but I actually agree with a Republican AND making sense! People should be punished for this!

    June 12, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Tom Snowden

    Used to be my rep, but redistricting saved us! He's an embarrassment to our district no more!

    June 12, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  8. TiredOfPaying

    I'm all for trying the leaker and the reporters. Put them on the dockett right behind the Bankers and Wall Street fools. Then when you're done with that, DISMANTLE THE ENTIRE NSA, DEA, IRS AND THE REST OF THE TRAITORS who are stealing our liberty.

    June 12, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  9. SickofItAll

    Peter King is clearly scare mongering with the ascertion that leaking information concerning the government's secret program to data-mine all phone calls. There is no sensitive operational information being given up here, anyone with reasonable intelligence can understand that this kind of monitoring is possible. He just doesn't want to be shown as a responsible party to the decline of freedom in this country as it is traded off under the guise of national security. The less the public knows about it, the more that is feared, the more fear there is, the more people are willing to give up to be protected. After all Homeland Security only exists beacuse the fear funded this redundancy of Dept. of Defense. Last time I checked national defense is homeland security.

    June 12, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  10. Daniel Farnkoff

    Peter King, Diane Feinstein, John Boehner and Obama are the real traitors in this case. They betrayed the Constitution that they swore to uphold, and lied to the American people for years about these illegal programs. They should all be impeached and removed from office.

    June 12, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  11. Nigel Chichester

    I wholeheartedly agree; punish the reporters and they'll stop reporting classified information.

    June 12, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  12. Jim

    Yes punish the people who don't want to be spied on and wiretapped. Punish those who speak out against government wrong doings. Tis is totally not creeping fascism or tyranny. LONG LIVE THE FED

    June 12, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  13. John Deatherage

    King apparently doesn't understand the need for the 1st Amendment or the 4th Amendment. That pesky Bill of Rights just gets in the way.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. John

    Great idea. That way, we could put Harry Reid in jail as well for leaking what were private tax returns, unless of course it wasn't true, then he was just lying again.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  15. nominalize

    He does have a point- under the current system, leakers go to jail while journalists get exemptions and go home scot-free. That gives the journalist all of the rewards and none of the risk, and that's a system that's ripe for abuse.

    I hope that while Glenn Greenwald is polishing his Pulitzers, he puts the prize money in a trust for his source so that when the source finally gets out of prison a broken man thirty years from now, he'll have something to live on.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  16. Daniel Farnkoff

    Another hilarious aspect of this: these guys are angrier at whistleblower Snowden than at Texas actress Shannon Richardson, who actually tried to assassinate public officials with her ricin letters. Where did that story disappear to?

    June 12, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  17. ted

    Peter King, should be punished for being a psycho dictator.

    June 12, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  18. allens

    rep king is a shallow minded oaf. he should be concerned about the rights of thge people he represents being eroded. oh wait, he is a republican.

    June 12, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  19. Dale Allen

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

    I can think of quite a few more instances where the FEDERAL GOV'T has put more lives and livlihoods at risk than these reporters, Mr. King. Should I spell them out for you? You hack? How about not securing the borders for one, how about trying to take away honest US civil liberties via the Patriot Act? How about the IRS Scandal? Bengazi? This is just a smokescreen from this administration to take our attention away from the damage King Obama has inflicted upon this once great nation. And YOU Mr. King are just going along with everything. Look at the state we are all in, and ask yourself if you have done anything to help rectify this situation. You HAVE NOT. So shut your big mouth. You and John BONER are some of the REAL traitors.

    June 12, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  20. Puddin

    I am puzzled as to why there weren't these kinds of objections to the Patroit Act at the time it was established when George W. was the president as are going on now. It is nothing new, so I don't understand why this guy, Snowden, revealed this secret program now. I can only guess he wanted his fifteen minutes of fame, and got it in this way. I agree with Peter King; those who were party to this act should be prosecuted. And WHAT IF these same people find themselves the victimss of a terriorist attact? Response......"Uhhhh, oh, I never thought of that." Duh?

    June 12, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  21. rs

    Alright Republicans, which is it? You can't go all ways on this and still make sense. Mitch McConnell said "these leaks must be stopped!". King (above) says the leaking journalists might face jail time. Fine, then why is it a controversy when the Executive branch is successful at identifying leakers through the use of technology- technology and snooping laws YOU put in place with the USA PATRIOT Act?
    Either you are for this technology and these laws and their use, or you are not. You cannot pontificate on both sides of the issue. It makes no sense, it is utterly transparent, and well, you look foolish.

    June 12, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. Daniel Farnkoff

    The Congresspeople who knew about this unconstitutional program should absolutely face charges. Peter King, Boehner, Dianne Feinstein and Obama should be impeached and removed for spying on the American people then lying about it.

    June 12, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. FactCheck

    The First Amendment is a terrible inconvenience for Rep. King, especially for the protections it affords the Fourth Estate. The Fourth Amendment was so annoying that he and his pals simply ignored it. Good thing there's a Second Amendment or we'd have nothing to organize a country around. Let's all go get our AR-15s and shoot 'em in the air. God Bless America.

    June 12, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  24. charles Gannon

    Let's be honest about this. Can we not assume that the "bad guy towel heads" work under the idea that any and every call they make is being monitored. Probably the only people not aware of this program prior to it being made into a news story was your average American citizen.

    June 12, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  25. montyross

    Would like to know to know how many cases against non-terrorists were implemented in the last 6 years because of these draconian measures.

    June 12, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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