A few years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama promised a “fundamental transformation of the nation.” Last week Keith Alexander used different words, but he essentially promised the same thing:
From the Daily Caller:
National Security Agency head Gen. Keith Alexander told a cybersecurity panel Tuesday that the “media leaks legislation” he proposed to prevent journalists from reporting on government surveillance programs like those leaked by Edward Snowden could be here within weeks.
“We’ve got to handle media leaks first,” Alexander said in a Guardian report. “I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks.”
The general expressed his support for similar actions taken by the United Kingdom last summer when the British government detained Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport on terrorism charges for carrying classified data about UK surveillance programs leaked by Snowden.
Last month, a panel of UK judges defended the British government’s decision, despite acknowledging Miranda had no involvement in terrorism.
“They looked at what happened on Miranda and other things, and they said it’s interesting: journalists have no standing when it comes to national security issues,” Alexander told the panel audience at Georgetown University. “They don’t know how to weigh the fact of what they’re giving out and saying, is it in the nation’s interest to divulge this.”
“And I just put that on the table because that’s a key issue that we as a nation [are] going to face,” Alexander said. “My personal opinion: these leaks have caused grave, significant and irreversible damage to our nation and to our allies. It will take us years to recover.”
Since the General is openly commending the harassment of the companion (or whatever) of a journalist, let’s just remind ourselves of how the Justice Department has been treating reporters. I know it is hard to remember all those… months ago, but they got a warrant naming James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” for reporting classified information from a government informant.
In other words, exercising one’s basic first amendment right was defined by the Justice Department as a possible crime. A journalist’s private information was snooped on that basis.
All it takes are a few such cases and no one will go to a journalist again. You can’t trust a reporter to keep you anonymous if the government can violate the reporter’s privacy. That was the point, I’m sure.
What Alexander pretends to not realize is that the First Amendment forbids Congress to pass the law he is promising us.