Public Defender Dude
is understandably disturbed about a recent ruling in an Espionage Act case that seems to indicate that the government can prosecute anyone for disclosing classified information, even if the person who discloses it owed no duty to the government to keep that information classified
. This would mean, for example, that any reporter who helped to break the Abu Ghraib story could be prosecuted and sent to federal prison for a very long time. The Espionage Act contains a requirement that the disclosure harm the interests of the United States, but, of course, revealing government wrongdoing can always harm our interests in the short term. But, what is harmful is the fact that the government was engaging in the wrongdoing in the first place, not that a whistleblower or a reporter brought the wrongdoing to the attention of the people, who have an absolute right to know when their government is breaking the law. This is very frightening, and I don't think PD Dude is unjustified in worrying that we our headed down the same road as Russia, China, and other totalitarian regimes that prosecute good, conscientious people for having the nerve to tell the people of their country that their government is breaking the law and lying to them about it.