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. Canuck

    Republicans are very keen to defend and uphold the 2nd Amendment. The 1st and 4th Amendments not so much...

    June 12, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. zac

    What an Orwellian blowhard! He would have been right at home in the Ole Soviet politburo.

    June 12, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. Herchato

    If the government put a ten dollar bill in an account every time a politician said national security we would never have a national deficit.

    June 12, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Thinkergal

    I guess this absolves Eric Holder from wrongdoing in the FOX reporter case.

    June 12, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. JoeD

    What did King say when Cheney "discussed" Plame with Miller?

    June 12, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. some guy

    Rep. Peter King is exactly the Kind of people in power who scare the people of of the USA and distrust the govt. Its like giving a monkey a sword in a crowded super market. Journalist should be arrested ? Why shouldn't you be arrested for threatening Journalists on live TV ? The bitter Old man with ED problems. Save the country your archaic cold war era ideals and retire. Typical effing N Yorker, thinks only his way is the american way.

    June 12, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. Thezel

    How many people could have died without these programs in place... Yes, take the journalists to Gitmo and the hangman

    June 12, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. tet1953

    Freedom of speech, rights to privacy, freedom of the press..GOP thinks that these are things we can dispense with in these dangerous times, but don't even think about messing with their right to assault weapons.

    June 12, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  9. Canuck

    You have more chance of being killed by lightning than by a terrorist attack, yet, the threat of terrorism has allowed politicians to justify the unjustifiable.

    June 12, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. Fed Up With Politicians

    Spare me the indignant terror talk, King. You and everyone else in Congress is only mad that the jig is up. This employee is a Patriot and truth will always be the key to Democracy... If you even remember what that is.

    June 12, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. glorydays

    Punish the law makers who spit on the Constitution.

    June 12, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Douglas

    How his end quote should of read:

    "American citizens now know with great exactitude exactly what we're doing," he said, "and how we're doing it."

    This is the real reason he and any like him are angry.Once it has become okay to spy on all Americans, we have taken a giant leap to an Orwellian police state.

    June 12, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. Bob

    I don't know if i could have leaked any info when i had my clerance but now i think our gov. has over reached on a lot i also did not have a need to know what info i was running back and forth

    June 12, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. Melissa

    I agree with the Congressman. These people are traitors. Being a reporter doesn't automatically make you exempt from the law.

    June 12, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Nanbghasaic

    This is why we have freedom of the press, to stop out of control government that thinks it can run roughshod over the people. King is an embarressment and those that agree with him should really think this through to the ultimate conclusion of his kind of thinking.

    June 12, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. saywhat

    This is the man who should be in the dock – Peter King trying to keep all these unAmerican shenanigans under wraps.
    According to Israeli newspaper Haa'retz, behind the scene in this Prism outrage are Israeli companies 5 have already been named:
    Nice Systems,Israeli Aerospace's Elta,Cellbrite,Ability & Transspace.
    This is absolutely unacceptable and an infringement on our sovereignty and interests of Americans.

    June 12, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. TotalSense

    Sure, that makes sense. It's not like terrorists think we might be monitoring email, phone, etc. They generally just use a Hotmail account and AT&T land lines to communicate any attack plans.

    Honestly Rep. King. You are a fool.

    What's not right is a blanket, unchecked, systematic review of anything communicated electronically by anyone. How can you not get that simple concept?

    June 12, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. You are Out Of Touch with reality

    Nah, all of Congress should be prosecuted for spying on the American people, you are our servants, not our dictators so all of those in Congress should be tried for not protecting the voters.

    June 12, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. Sniffit

    "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."

    While King obviously goes too far in one direction...you're way off the map in the other direction. What Snowden did is a crime and the statutes that make it a crime are 100% constitutional.

    June 12, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. Toad 390

    Time to investigate the investigaters. Congress busys themselves investigateing golden parachute execs, and who has the biggest golden parachute of all, Congress. Crooks throwing stones at crooks, sounds like a gang war. This is all a continuation of the dumbing of America. Good for us.

    June 12, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  21. think4yourself

    What is so classified about this information. What secrets were revealed that were so important, the secret that the government was gathering data from all Americans without their knowledge? He revealed nothing but a process. How did he put lives in jeaopardy by telling everyone that the NSA is collecting phone data from every American without their knowledge? How was national security compromised? How has this program stopped a terrorist attack? Not asking the details of the attack, just asking what role did government's monitoring of my cell phone activity play in stopping a terror attack? Americans have a right to know what their government is doing and how it impacts them. My liberty is not the government's to take or to compromise in the name of security. In other words, there should be consent for the trade off. Those who are willing to allow the government to intrude on thier personal lives and privacy should allow the government to do so, however, the government should not be allowed to do the same to those who do not consent. As Ben Franklin once said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." This quote is tantamount to the current situation. All liberty is essential, and even if the NSA's actions provide some sort of blanket of security (which there is no evidence to suggest it does), even if it does, it is not worth sacrificing our liberty to obtain that safety. These actions are about as bad as the TSA pat downs at airports.

    June 12, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. downbytheriver

    Peter King needs to be put out of office. This man is dangerous to democracy. He's not only okay with the NSA violating the 4th Amendment, now he wants to toss out the Freedom of the Press (1st Amendment).

    June 12, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  23. sundownr

    Where will all of this end? I mean with everybody being arrested for crimes against the state... and what if the majority of American's side with those arrested. Are we all criminals because we disagree with super secret spy activities?

    June 12, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. Sniffit

    "Snowden restores a little faith in the Constitution and honors his sworn Oath to protect , preserve and defend the Constitution"

    He took no such oath. His only "oath" was a contractual obligation to keep the secrets secret. His duty under criminal laws was to do so as well....and those criminal laws are constitutional, there's no debating it. People conflating prosecution of Snowden for the crime of disclosing national security secrets with somehow violating Snowden's Constitutional rights really have no clue what they're talking about.

    June 12, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. Anonymous

    I will give Mr. King this: Our media is out of control and has been for the past 5 years. That most people have completely tuned out can't sit well with media leadership. If anything, the media has doubled down on stupid and Americans ought to be up in arms fighting against media's control, media's messaging, and media's propaganda. What we have are a few groupies from various networks spending their days defending the propaganda. The media wouldn't have it any other way. And as rewards to the faithful, the media fills them with fear, hate, bigotry, angst, and anger against one another. It fascinating to watch for those of us who see through the messaging. And very, very dangerous.

    June 12, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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