First Amendment pioneer and current Republican U.S. Congressman Peter King thinks that journalists should be punished for publishing the leaked documents about the National Security Agency’s top-secret spying program. Unfazed by Anderson Coopers perfect jaw-line, Representative King said in a CNN interview:
“Actually, if they–if they knew that this was classified information–I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude. I know that the whole issue of leaks has been gone into over the last month. I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation, both moral but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security. As a practical matter, I–I guess it happened in the past several years, a number of reporters who have been prosecuted under us, so the answer is yes to your question.”
It should be noted that since the landmark 1971 case, The New York Times Co. vs. the United States, the Supreme Court has held that newspapers could not be punished for publishing leaks like the Pentagon Papers.
In fairness to King, he has been remarkably consistent with his outrage. In 2010, he thought prosecutors should go after both WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and The Times for publishing the leaked cables.
The only person to likely be prosecuted is the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was last seen in Hong Kong before disappearing.