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. Bill Jones

    if you think Al Qaeda doesn't already know what this government is doing, then you are in denial

    June 12, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. Greg

    And here is a perfect example of whats wrong with this country's Government "New York Republican, King" Who leads the House Homeland Security. Who suppose to up hold and protect the construction of The United States of America would like nothing more then do away with the freedom of the press. What’s next Mr. King FREE SPEACH!

    June 12, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. Phil Johnson

    I beg to differ Mr. King. I believe that any lawmaker who knew about this and let it continue should be imprisoned for life. Probably tarred and feathered too!

    June 12, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. Farrok

    Mr. King have you heard of Freedom of the Press? Stop running your foul mouth and shut up for once, Mr. King is a 2nd cousin of Carl Marx…………….

    June 12, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. Ben Freed

    Congress critters embarrassed about their complicity in creating a totalitarian state.

    June 12, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Anatoly

    The government does not exist to serve the citizenry; the citizenry exists to serve the government. Privacy is a privilege that governments can take anytime they wish. Citizens, being slaves, should not expect such privileges. And, this subjugated nightmare world is a place that we must accept as a natural extension of progress. Big Brother is the future, so grow up and “get used to it”…

    Honor and conscience do not suddenly become obsolete simply because danger looms, or catastrophe strikes.

    June 12, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. Jon

    Endangering Americans ? Rep. King needs a reality check. And by that I mean he needs to be removed from his position, as far as im concerned hes more of an endangerment to Americans then Eric Snowden is.

    June 12, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. Greg

    Freedom of the press exist in this country but since it's Glenn Greenwald I say prosecute him. The guys a pompous jerk.

    On the other hand, there's reporting and then there's leaking classified info. Greenwald did receive stolen classified info and released it so there is a case for him being prosecuted. He's no better than the leaker, he is a leaker.

    June 12, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  9. Polopoint

    Punishment – for what?

    June 12, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  10. Dave

    Wow. Talk about the wrong side of history... Maybe Rep. King would like to just eliminate the free press.

    June 12, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  11. Dee

    It is an odd process .. Snowden restores a little faith in the Constitution and honors his sworn Oath to protect , preserve and defend the Constitution .. And King trashes the first , fourth, fifth and probably the sixth, since there is no chance of a fair trial with honest testimony from government agents , even in testimony before congress they lie and obfuscate .. and King thinks it is Snowdon that aids the enemy, when King is doing thier work for them. You have to be terminally stupid to think anybody actually fears the terrorists and death more than they fear the government and harassment , jail, fines , loss of reputation, intrusion into private lives... at least the terrorists are marginally honest about what they are trying to do.

    June 12, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  12. plain&simple

    The republican party's new motto...every man and women for themselves! There is no more unity in that party ,the only thing that is of common purpose is do or say whatever it takes to better your own career. There is no thought of doing what is right for the people of this nation. It's get yourself into the news dealing with issues that have no real answer. Only opinions. Jobs,education,infrastructure all have solutions. Try working on them while you debate freedom of the press!

    June 12, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  13. blue max

    the leaker in hong kong is by definition a defector. i think a water boarding session in gitmo would be in order. lets roll...

    June 12, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. Kevin

    maybe mr. king should ask his constituents how THEY feel. afterall, his job is to represent the people not tell the people what to feel. I for one believe this level of invasion is unwarranted and needs to stop. snowden should be praised by his countrymen for revealing the extent of our government's spying. if it were revealed that "the government" was secretly compiling a list of gun-owners there would be hell to pay. would you be content to let the FBI follow you all day, read your emails over your shoulder while you type, read your texts before you send or receive them, listen to everyone of your phone calls however intimate or private, sit on your computer and write down notes about your browsing history, or read your bank statements? well people that's what our country will become if we let mr. king have his way.

    June 12, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. dansimonphotography

    Sure thing, let's toss the first amendment out the window. Better yet, let's stop electing idiots like this.

    June 12, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  16. birdhouse9

    According to old reports quoted over the last several days. They ALREADY knew. So stating something that's already known is harmful how?

    June 12, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  17. Seriously?

    Prosecuting journalists has no place. Look to your own house first, which is where the problems are Mr. King. Too many spy programs run by private contractors. Just like war, they are uncontrollable and have different motives, command, control and discipline than career government professionals. The chickens are coming home to roost.

    June 12, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  18. VoteYes

    I agree that journalist who get classified information from a disgruntled government worker and the journalist knows the information is classified; should be punished just like the disgruntled employee who stole the classified information. Now reporters who write about the "story" of the leak after it has gone public should not merit punishment.

    June 12, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  19. tcaud

    I told you King was dangerous.

    June 12, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    I agree. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If a government employee gave away top level national security secrets to a foreign national, then that employee and said foreigner would be charged with espionage, at the least.

    But, if that same employee gave away to the same secrets to journalist, then the employee is a hero and the journalist is "just doing his or her job"? Come one, man. Journalists should not get a free pass to break the law at will. I'm not permitted to do it., so why should they?

    There's a major difference between whistleblowing and treason. This Snowden kid has *clearly* broken the law. It would appear that he hacked into places where he was not authorized.

    June 12, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  21. Vin

    Yes, reporters should be punished for telling stories about what should be perfectly legal activities, according to the government.

    June 12, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  22. oldpatriot

    Yeah punishing reporters isn't tyrannical, suppressing the free press isnt a move that would be made by say a fascist dictator ! King is a piece of garbage that doesn't deserve to be in public office in any form, not even so much as dog catcher. This is exactly why people use the word tyranny and fascism to describe the US government.

    June 12, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. Lars Hanson

    What a world-class moron! It is not the journalist's role to protect state secrets (except in times of war) but the GOVERNMENT'S role. If the government (run by Rep. King and his cronies) can't protect state secrets, the problem is with the GOVERNMENT. (Like we didn't know that already.) The role of the media is NOT to act as a safety net for the when the government screws up.

    June 12, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. TAK

    Just last week Republicans were going after President Obama and Eric Holder for investigating AP reporters that leaked classified information. This week they're leading the charge to prosecute reporters for exactly the same thing.

    June 12, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. ObamaCares!

    I agree, perhaps for the first time, with Peter King.

    June 12, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
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