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. Brad

    To any republicans who support this- Hang up and resign. Signed a lifelong republican. You are completely wrong about this, and are not a real republican if you believe that the government intruding in our lives is in line with the party beliefs

    June 12, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. Eddie B

    all these people that are against the spy thing and like King I believe the journalist should be held accountable. these people will be the first ones to cry what happen to security should we get attacked and blame it all on Obama.

    June 12, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. Sniffit

    " It is not the journalist's role to protect state secrets "

    Criminal statutes would disagree...and they're all constitutional...there's really no debating it. That being said, I don't think they should be prosecuted unless they actively solicited, encouraged, aided and abetted the crime being committed by the person leaking it. It's a fine line, but hiding behind "whistleblowing" even when the supposed "whistleblower" has no solid good faith basis for believing that what he's leaking is illegal....it's become far too broad and abused of an excuse. The MSM will try to protect their leak gravy train by failing to report on the SCOTUS cases that cover these issues...i.e., that talk about where your right to free speech ends and the gov't's right to declare certain things national secrets and then protect them from disclosure...but that doesn't change that the criminal laws involved here are constitutional and Snowden violated them. He doesn't get a free pass just because you don't like what he disclosed....and his constitutional rights to free speech, etc., are not being violated by prosecuting him for violating those criminal statutes.

    June 12, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. kent

    Mr. King is the one that needs to be brought up on charges! He's the one that grossly violated the constitution he swore to uphold.... since when is exposing a crime illegal? Edward Snowden is a hero, not a traitor. He did the right thing and shouldn't be punished for it. For those of you that say he had other channels to do this through, you more than likely have never worked in government. Using your first amendment to protect the 4th amendment should never be a crime.

    June 12, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Sniffit

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

    Considering that the average 'Murikan has a terrible understanding (or none) of what these programs involved and how they work, what information they actually are collecting...and the fact that the MSM, in order to protect its leak gravy train is deliberately doing a terrible job of reporting on it in order to obfuscate the real issues...I tend to doubt the truth of King's statement there.

    June 12, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. MartyGRMI

    King is for the constitution as long as it doesn't stop him from doing whatever he wants

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

    Orwell is turning over in his grave. Pay attention, folks. The seeds of totalitarianism are in these remarks. All they need is some watering. God help us if terrorists ever achieve another 9/11. Not only because of the loss of life, but because of the fall-out in our democracy. Our own government would enslave us in order to "protect" us.

    June 12, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Juan

    It's amazing how individuasl can trump America's political system of 'Checks and Balance' via vigilanti politics.

    June 12, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. Elgin Bob

    A few politicians want to punish Snowden and contend that US intelligence has been compromised. First, I am offended by the government monitoring my calls and e-mails. If they want to monitor, seek a court order and make government responsible. Besides wasting taxpayers money on a useless system, how stupid do people think the are fooling terrorists that calls are not monitored. So why are they calling for Snowdens' head! He didn't turn specific people in for their actions. This sticks to high heaven and Government is in the middle of this ball of wax.

    June 12, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. withanh2

    In response to plain&simple.......actually I disagree with Rep. KIng, but the fact that he is Republican and isn't in line with what most Republicans believe, doesn't that show that Republicans have the ability to think their own thoughts unlike the Democrats.
    After all, hasn't the last 5 years proven Democrats are so indoctrinated into the super liberal mindset that to think independently is not even an option for them.

    June 12, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. KBNJ

    King, and all other Congressmen/women (from BOTH sides) who support this snooping need to be thrown out of office NOW. Nobody in their right mind would support the govt. opening every pc of mail we ever send, photocopying it, and keeping it forever in an easily-searchable format. This is precisely the same thing.

    June 12, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. lottie

    the guy is not a patriot but a fame seeker. 3 months and he knows all this stuff. ? I think there are more people involved. Lets run to china and hide. Hum? Democracy is one thing putting Americans at risk another.

    June 12, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Data Driven

    Fine, Peter "IRA" King, but let's dismantle the unConstitutional, if not "illegal", surveillance programs first.

    June 12, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Mitch H

    I guess Peter King never heard of the first amendment especially the part about the freedom of the press. It's exactly these types of disclosures that ensures our government does not over reach.

    June 12, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. Jon

    I see a few posts calling for Snowden to be hung for "endangering America and its people", seriously? Someone EXPLAIN how its endangering any of us, letting the "enemy" know (as if the world didnt realize before) that the US government spies on its own population, how is that endangering us? Keep your head in the sand for another generation, ignorant of your rights and the freedoms given to us from our forefathers and let the government slowly devolve us into fat, wasteful, internet trolls. Good idea Norma Vessels!

    June 12, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. really

    There are real traitors in this story that deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    Anyone who swore to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States who then set up the biggest, most invasive domestic spying network in the history of mankind is a traitor to the American people.

    June 12, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. laughing at this

    So King wants British citizens outside the US to be prosecuted under US law? Good luck with that.

    June 12, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. JR

    It's obvious King doesn't understand the Constitution. The reporter isn't at fault. Any good reporter will print what's newsworthy. If anyone is "punished", it should be the source. The reporter's doing his job. What a dunce.

    June 12, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. Ryan

    Peter King has clearly been a part of the government machine too long, and needs to become a private citizen for a while to recalibrate his perspective. While he is in congress it appears he is willing to erode our constitutional rights and believes the government should oversee all of our communications. He needs to be one of us again, one of the millions of people whose rights he wants to take away.

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

    How can ya keep'em in line without fear?

    June 12, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  21. JOSH P.

    Peter King, you P-0-s,now All Americans know,how crooked politicians like you,have been Spying on all Americans for years,you should prosecuted you -0-s.

    June 12, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    I think the anger and outrage at "the government" that people are expressing over copies of their phone bills being sent to the NSA is misdirected. I strongly suggest that people read the "TERMS OF USE" agreements that they signed with their phone carriers.

    You signed away your "right to privacy" when you accepted to the TOU agreement. You should be mad at the phone carriers for not allowing to negotiate the terms at all. Actually, you should be mad at those in the Congress who permit companies to offer "take it or leave it" TOU agreements, taking your rights away from you.

    June 12, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. Bill in VA

    I generally agree with King but I am not sure here

    June 12, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. ST

    The government should clear up GTMO. Let everyone who is there go back home and put this thug inside there alone. He did all this for their benefit and let him learn the hard way. Those who will be let to go can't use phones anymore to make their attack plans, as they now know the surveillance is on place and is still going on.

    June 12, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. Steve Johnson

    Does anyone seriously believe with a straight face that terrorists are planning their plots on facebook and twitter?

    I highly doubt that this will impact national security, and if it does, the dragnet was too wide anyway. We tipped too far towards safety vs. liberty.

    June 12, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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