Washington Post on the AIPAC Case

The Washington Post took further note today of the potentially severe implications for the press of the controversial prosecution of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“The Bush administration said that journalists can be prosecuted under current espionage laws for receiving and publishing classified information but that such a step ‘would raise legitimate and serious issues and would not be undertaken lightly,’ according to a court filing made public this week,” the Post reported.

See “Press Can Be Prosecuted for Having Secret Files, U.S. Says,” by Walter Pincus, Washington Post, February 22.

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  1. Allen Thomson February 22, 2006 at 3:06 PM #

    “There plainly is no exemption in the statutes for the press, let alone lobbyists like the defendants,” said DoJ.

    True, but neither is there any exemption for the President, Vice President, Members of Congress or federal judges, including the Supremes. Serious efforts to use 18 USC 79x (I assume that’s what’s involved here) will lead to interesting and perhaps unintended consequences.

    Speaking of which, what is the status of Senator Shelby’s indiscretion with respect to 18 USC 798?

    [SA: On the Shelby case, Martin Kady II in Congressional Quarterly (11/18/05) reported as follows:

    The Senate Ethics Committee has cleared Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., of wrongdoing in connection with an investigation into whether he leaked classified information to the media about what U.S. intelligence agencies knew about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    (...)

    On Nov. 11 [2005], Ethics Chairman George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, and ranking Democrat Tim Johnson of South Dakota wrote to Shelby telling him that the case had been dismissed and that the committee “considers this matter to be closed.”

    The letter went on to say the Justice Department had “produced evidence and information concerning your conduct in connection with the disclosure” about the NSA intercepts, but the panel found no evidence that Shelby had done anything wrong.

    This is the last known investigation on tap this year for the Ethics Committee, which operates in secret and rarely takes any disciplinary action against members of the Senate.]