Rep. Peter King: There’s a moral and legal obligation to punish reporters who leak classified info

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) appeared on CNN tonight with Anderson Cooper, and his comments about prosecuting journalists who leak classified material caught the attention of a certain Glenn Greenwald, who on Tuesday teased that The Guardian intends to “pursue every last one” of dozens of stories generated by the leak of classified documents by Edward Snowden.

See for yourself.

Who knows what might happen? As The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman explained Sunday, both The Post and The Guardian are sitting on the majority of the slides detailing the government’s PRISM program, teasing only that if you saw the slides, you’d know why. Gellman likened the unpublished slides to a “bomb recipe.”

The government’s moral high ground in the privacy debate has of course been compromised by revelations that Fox News’ James Rosen was accused of being a co-conspirator under the Espionage Act for his reporting, though, following public outrage, the administration now insists it never intended to prosecute.

King has already called for Snowden to be extradited and prosecuted for leaking classified information. So, should Greenwald be worried? The public doesn’t seem to have any taste for prosecuting members of the press.

Here’s an interesting hypothetical: if the press hadn’t decided to publish selected bits of the PRISM information, would Snowden simply have uploaded it himself or passed it along to Wikileaks?

There is one qualifier to King’s statement that’s gone largely overlooked, and that’s his concern over the magnitude of the leak and its consequences to national security. Just what is in that “bomb recipe” that Gellman teased?

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