Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information [September 9, 2013]   [open pdf - 410KB]

"The publication of classified information related to National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance activity is the latest in a series of leaks to the press that has riveted Congress's attention. Press reports describing classified U.S. operations abroad have led to calls from Congress for an investigation into the source of the leaks, and Attorney General Holder appointed two special prosecutors to look into the matter. The online publication of classified defense documents and diplomatic cables by the organization WikiLeaks and subsequent reporting by the New York Times and other news media had already focused attention on whether such publication violates U.S. criminal law. The source of the WikiLeaks material, Army Private Bradley Manning, has been sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment for a number of offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), but was not convicted of aiding the enemy. A grand jury in Virginia is deciding whether to indict any civilians in connection with the disclosure. A number of other cases involving charges under the Espionage Act, including efforts to extradite Edward Snowden in connection with the leak of NSA documents pertaining to certain surveillance programs, demonstrate the Obama Administration's relatively hardline policy with respect to the prosecution of persons suspected of leaking classified information to the media. […] This report discusses the statutory prohibitions that may be implicated, including the Espionage Act; the extraterritorial application of such statutes; and the First Amendment implications related to such prosecutions against domestic or foreign media organizations and associated individuals. The report provides a summary of previous legislative efforts to criminalize the unauthorized disclosure of classified information."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41404
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Media Type:
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