Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peter King Re-Introduces Bill Aimed At Prosecuting WikiLeaks

By Jerry Smith Feb 17 2011

Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York, and chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security Peter King re-introduced a bill aimed at prosecuting WikiLeaks and other sources of leaked information.

The bill known as 'The Shield Act' (The Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act), or H.R. 703, would modify the Espionage Act to make publishing classified information "concerning the identity of a classified source or informant of an element of the intelligence community" an act of espionage.

Rep. King said in a statement:
"Julian Assange and his associates who have operated and supported WikiLeaks not only damaged US national security with their releases of classified documents, but also placed at risk countless lives, including those of our Nation’s intelligence sources around the world."

"As international pressure has held back Assange, we now find that his colleagues are planning to spin off a new website called OpenLeaks, dedicated to the same dangerous conduct."

"These organizations are a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States. Julian Assange and his compatriots are enemies of the US and should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. This legislation provides the Attorney General with additional authority to do just that."
Back in November, Rep. King sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordering them to consider WikiLeaks a "foreign terrorist organization" and to have Assange declared a terror ringleader.

Last year in Congress Rep, King introduced this legislation as a companion bill to the bill Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced last year to the Senate. The Senators re-introduced their bill last week.

King claims that the new bill will give the U.S. Department of Justice more authority to prosecute intelligence leaks.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned back in December that applying the Espionage Act to third-party publishers of classified information would violate protected free speech rights and said in a statement:
"If the Espionage Act were to be applied to publishers, it would have the unconstitutional effect of infringing on the constitutionally protected speech rights of all Americans, and it would have a particularly negative effect on investigative journalism – a necessary and fundamental part of our democracy."

"[W]e urge Congress to resist the urge to broaden the Espionage Act's already overbroad proscriptions and, instead, to narrow the Act’s focus to those responsible for leaking properly classified information to the detriment of our national security. Publishers who are not involved in the leaking of classified information should be praised by our society for their contributions to public discourse, not vilified as the co-conspirators of leakers with whom they have no criminal connection."
Critics of the SHIELD Act have said it appears to be aimed more at publishers, and than at leakers.

Click Here to get the full statement from the ACLU in .pdf format.

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