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. Nagrad

    Rep. King apparently thinks that programs run from the shadows with no public oversight or even knowledge of them are good for a free and open society. I would encourage Rep. King to examine his priorities, and the principals upon which this country was founded.

    June 12, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. Kerwyn

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

    Mr. King, if you are really this clueless you must resign immediately. They know exactly what we are doing. The "common" American citizen suspected our government of this. Our representatives should be prosecuted for allowing the power hungry to grab the freedom our Country has always been known for.

    What is truly shaming, is that YOU our representative did nothing to stop it.

    June 12, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  3. Frank

    Someone should remind Rep. Peter King that the central issue here is a violation of the Fourth Amendment by the systems that were reported on by Mr. Snowden. Mr. Snowden is a whistleblower, protected by whistleblower laws. Why does Rep. Peter King feel a need to distract from that? To what extent is he involved in the violation of the US Constitution?

    June 12, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. mike mcdickey

    Who didn't think the government could and does get access to anyone's phone records and emails? That in itself is a non-story. The story is whether certain government officials are abusing their power by looking at these things without probable cause from Americans regardless of whether they are or could be engaged in activities against the United States. It would then be like a Daniel Ellsburg situation, and Ellsburg is a hero in most people's books. If that is happening, shouldn't we know about it, and shouldn't someone who blows the whistle on that activity be considered a true patriot and hero? What am I missing, other than blowhards like King trying to get air time off 9/11 like he always has?

    June 12, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Ben

    Sure, why not? Sacrifice the First and Fourth Amendment. We weren't using those anyway.

    June 12, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. penguin

    Guantanamo, drones, and rendition has done much more to aide the "enemy" than anything else.

    June 12, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. jrsteele2013

    It is those in Government who promote the Big Lie that surveillance of American citizens is a necessary tool of Government that should be prosecuted. The currently exposed programs are but the tip of the iceberg. The principal purpose of these programs is to stifle Political dissent in the guise of protecting America from terrorists. It is McCarthyism on steroids.

    King, and those of his ilk, by implementing and defending the NSA Surveillance activities, have violated and continue to violate the Oath that they swore to defend and protect the Constitution of our great Republic. That is a real crime. Not a Government manufactured crime such as exposing their nefarious activities.

    June 12, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. JustAnotherCYA

    This is just another CYA moment for Congress.

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

    I think we should investigate Peter King.
    The guy seems to want to be a modern day McCarthy or Hoover.

    Makes you wonder what he is hiding.

    June 12, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Jenocyde

    King is completely wrong. He helped perpetrate abuses against the American people – all of them. He should be cowering in the shadows, apologizing profusely, not spitting vile and blaming other people because he got caught in the wrong. My toddler's got more couth than this guy

    June 12, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. William

    Of course this is exactly how someone who is part of Homeland Security will react. Of course he should call for such prosecution...what else can he say. REGARDLESS of what is being done to 'protect' Americans...if it is not legal or even smacks of being illegal, it needs to be exposed, otherwise, we will turn into a Socialist nation where we have no rights...something many of our leaders secretly hope for. If we knew half of what is going on in secret, none of us would sleep at night. Come on, folks, read the tabloids....everything printed there is based on fact just like what our leaders are telling us.

    June 12, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. John Q.

    Those who willingly agree to pass unconstitutional laws and violate their people's freedom should also be held accountable then, should they not?

    June 12, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  13. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I agree with Congressman King on this. I also believe that Congressmen who fundraise for identified Terrorist organizations (like King and the IRA) should also be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    June 12, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. bfpiercelk

    Sheesh, why don't you just change your last name to Himmler and get it over with.

    June 12, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. eideard

    Don'tcha love mad dog-Republicans?

    June 12, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    I agree,to publish classified information should be rewarded with jail time.

    June 12, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. Charley

    A lot a people over the last 6 years have laughed at my email letters. While some people put cute quotes on the bottom of the email, I have always added, " i love you president Obama, your the best"
    Well, who is laughing now

    June 12, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. Dixie

    guess they don't like bring cought with their pants down. Welcome to OUR WORLD!

    June 12, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. Joe M.

    Peter King: "If the Government does it, it isn't illegal."
    Peter King "Reporters and Citizens otherwise should have the same responsibilities to protect classified information that our trusted public servants and contractors do."

    June 12, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  20. Chilly Willy

    The data collection was known seven years ago. Prior to that the phone companies turned it over voluntarily.
    Reason of national security have been much to commonplace for excuse of government action: From kill lists to targeted drone strikes, to "signature" drone strikes, to collection of data, to NISL's. National security is just an excuse to hide from the American public what Washington DC is really up to. Reasons of national security has been way overused the past 12 years, not buying that excuse anymore.

    June 12, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  21. Edward

    So much for freedom of the press. Here we go becoming China. So lets get this straight, Presidents can kill you with a drone with out a trial by jury, now they can spy on us and collect private data from our communications. What next video cameras in our living room? Are they accessing our laptop cameras and surveilling us?

    The reporters and snowden are heros.

    June 12, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  22. dialogos68

    It is all the left vs right political stooges, the Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs who continue to destroy our Constitution. Bush, McCain, Obama and Clinton are the real traitors and sell-outs to the growing corporate plutocracy we are entering. Libertarians will always be against government spying on citizens.
    This is an age similar to Socialist Germany in the 1930s. The government spies on its people and asks them to spy on each other. Clueless Americans... Lets give up our constitutional rights for "Fear of Men in Caves"!

    June 12, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  23. tbone

    Line them up right after the Government officials who violated the US Constitution.
    How many Government officials are currently facing criminal charges for their crimes against the people of the USA?

    June 12, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. Pete

    King should learn to keep his mouth shut..Fox news tied into a case in 2009 it started years before and can't be related to Pres.Obama people ,it was done under again Bushs term...And now republicans,media ranting that their liberties,constitutional rights are being infringed on with the very policies they promoted while Bush was in office in the Patriot Act,Homeland Security Act after 9/11.You republicans with your brinksmanship,ignorence , making a mockery of patriotism slay me thinking you'll now place blame on this president and his administration when its obviously it was orchestrated from the previous president and his administration in Bush..Quit being something republicans you're not in trying to act intelligent,sympathetic to the needs of America and its people ,the ones you've held hostage since this presidents inaugeration with filibustering,obstructing everything in jobs,infastructure bills meant to help the people and economy.You created these problems and now these problems are coming back to haunt you and quess what it'll be all over for you at midterms and you republicans you'll definitly reap what you've sowed!!

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

    1984 here we come

    June 12, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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