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Freedom of the Press Does Not Extend To State Secrets

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Description: The First Amendment protects freedom of the press, but how do we reconcile the conflict between national security and accountability? Do we err on the side of secrecy or transparency? From the Pentagon Papers to WikiLeaks, join the debate between the need for government secrecy and the public'€™s right to know. PLUS: Attend the debate and see the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times for FREE! Present your June 8 debate ticket stub at the Film Society of Lincoln Center box office to see the film free of charge. Opens June 17, 2011. *Please note that seating is not guaranteed if sold out.

The Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Tuesday, March 1, 1791
Espionage Act
Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Freedom of the Press is Not Absolute

To the extent that there is a public “right to know,” there must also be limitations on that right, fixed in accordance with the kind of country the public wants the United States to be.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Andrew C. McCarthy

As responsible as Assange and the team at WikiLeaks are for this harm to our national security—and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law—it is important to note that others also bear substantial responsibility.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Jamil Jaffer

Every citizen, including—particularly including—those employed with major media organs has a responsibility to prevent ongoing operational secrets from falling into the hands of our enemies by complying with the law regarding classified information.

Friday, May 26, 2006
John C. Eastman

Yet again, the New York Times was presented with a simple choice: help protect American national security or help al Qaeda. Yet again, it sided with al Qaeda.

Sunday, May 1, 2016
Andrew C. McCarthy
Press Should Be Free to Inform the People

Joint op-ed by Dean Baquet, then editor of the Los Angeles Times and Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, on the decision to disclose government secrets.

Saturday, July 1, 2006
Dean Baquet and Bill Keller

Our unique method of maintaining national security while ensuring openness has worked well for more than 215 years.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Geoffrey R. Stone

Can journalists be prosecuted for reporting on leaked classified information? Should they?

Friday, May 26, 2006
Jonathan H. Adler and Michael Berry

In war no less than in peace, the acid test for freedom of the press is the critical crossroads where secrecy and democracy collide head-on.

Sunday, June 22, 2003
Murrey Marder

Comprehensive WikiLeaks coverage from the New York Times.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

The Times’s executive editor, Bill Keller, on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Bill Keller

A Federalist Society panel of free speech and national security experts discusses what, if anything, can be done about the Wikileaks matter. Who, if anyone, can or should be prosecuted, and for what? How strong is a potential free speech defense? What is the potential liability of re-publishers? As technology continues to develop, who qualifies as a “journalist” and “press?” These and other questions were addressed by Floyd Abrams, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Eric Snyder and Jamil N. Jaffer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
International & National Security Law Practice Group

When can the government, consonant with the First Amendment, punish the publication of classified information related to national security?

Monday, April 18, 2011
Jonathan Peters

With few notable exceptions, it’s been left to foreign journalism organizations to offer the loudest calls for the U.S. to recognize WikiLeaks’ and Assange’s right to publish under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

Sunday, January 9, 2011
Nancy A. Youssef

An Obama administration prosecution of Julian Assange over the embassy cable leaks would be an assault on press freedom.

Thursday, December 16, 2010
Dan Kennedy

By disclosing national defense secrets allegedly purloined by a rogue soldier, Assange has damaged American combat operations, intelligence collection and diplomacy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010
Andrew C. McCarthy

If “one guy with a laptop “can shut down WikiLeaks even temporarily, imagine what the 1,100 cyber-warriors at U.S. Cyber Command could do.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Marc A. Thiessen

It will surprise many that there is no statute making it illegal to reveal classified information.

Sunday, December 5, 2010
Baruch Weiss

The government’s decisions about whether or how to bring criminal charges against participants in the WikiLeaks disclosures are complicated by the very newness of Julian Assange’s Internet-based outfit: Is it journalism or espionage or something in between?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Pete Yost

An organization has obtained secret documents. They are newsworthy, but they could be damaging as well, to national interests and individuals. Do you publish?

Monday, November 29, 2010
Russell Adams and Jessica E. Vascellaro
Cracking Down on Leakers

The WikiLeaks case is part of a much broader campaign by the Obama administration to crack down on leakers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Carrie Johnson

Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency, faces some of the gravest charges that can be brought against an American citizen.

Monday, May 23, 2011
Jane Mayer

Stephen Kim, who had briefed former Vice President Dick Cheney and other top U.S. officials, was indicted for violating an espionage law barring disclosure of national defense information and lying to the FBI about his contacts with the reporter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Obama administration cracks down on mid-level leakers, despite high-level officials dishing far more sensitive secrets to Bob Woodward.

Monday, October 18, 2010
Michael Isikoff

Shamai K. Leibowitz, a Silver Spring man who worked as a linguist for the FBI, was sentenced Monday to 20 months in prison for leaking secret documents to a blogger.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Maria Glod

This discussion paper looks at the long and continuing struggle over the scope of laws to punish leakers, the mushrooming of secrets over the years, the efforts to speed up the job of declassifying millions of pages of classified material, and examines the work of a group of government and press representatives (Dialogue) who met periodically in off-the-record sessions to discuss ways to protect the most sensitive national security secrets without abridging the public’s right to know.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Jack Nelson
Deciding What to Publish

This paper examines vetting arrangements described by journalists and capsule case histories of both agreement and refusal to withhold information

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Allan M. Siegal

How top editors decide whether to publish national security stories based on classified information.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Rachel Smolkin
Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers, scroll down the page for an index of chapters.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

The symposium included keynote speaker Daniel Ellsberg, who leaded the top-secret study to the press.

Monday, July 1, 2002
The VVA Veteran

Audio clips of oral arguments and Supreme Court Documents.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Supreme Court Briefs and Opinions

What needs disclosure is the full internal controversy, the secret critiques as well as the arguments and claims of advocates of war and nuclear “options”—the Pentagon Papers of the Middle East.

Sunday, October 1, 2006
Daniel Ellsberg
Post 9/11 Leaks

A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Seymour M. Hersh

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Dana Priest

The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.

Monday, February 14, 2005
Jane Mayer

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Friday, December 16, 2005
James Risen and Eric Lichtblau

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

Friday, June 23, 2006
Eric Lichtblau and James Risen
Related Articles

The author captures the untold story of "Plamegate": how one of the most fundamental protections of the media has been threatened.

Saturday, April 1, 2006
Marie Brenner

In view of the extensions of secrecy policy undertaken by the executive branch since 9/11, the authors evaluate the state secrets privilege.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
William G. Weaver and Robert M. Pallito