When can you prosecute the press for publishing?

Dec 2018
2,426
779
New England
#1
From an interesting editorial in today's Boston Globe, they express concern that Julian Assange might be prosecuted for making public sensitive information. The relevant passage:

Press freedom advocates have long feared that the government would move to punish Assange, and on Thursday it at first seemed as if their worst fears were coming true. But the government threw an unexpected curveball. Instead of charging Assange with crimes related to publishing the stolen documents, which would have raised serious press-freedom and constitutional concerns, they charged him only with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.” In other words, they accused Assange of a hacking-related crime, not a publishing crime.

Which brings to mind a hypothetical. Let's suppose a "source" for a paper like the Globe steals from the CIA a list of Taliban informants living in Afghanistan. Should a media outlet be prosecuted for publishing those names or is the only crime the original theft of the list?
 
Jun 2018
5,343
1,247
South Dakota
#2
Which brings to mind a hypothetical. Let's suppose a "source" for a paper like the Globe steals from the CIA a list of Taliban informants living in Afghanistan. Should a media outlet be prosecuted for publishing those names or is the only crime the original theft of the list?
Using the info is a crime as well. A loose analogy is that it is a crime to steal a gun. If that gun is used that is another separate crime. "The ends justify the means" has long ago been described as fruit of the poison tree, and has reversed many court decisions. The press should never be exempt from the laws the rest of us are subject to.
 
Dec 2018
2,426
779
New England
#3
Using the info is a crime as well. A loose analogy is that it is a crime to steal a gun. If that gun is used that is another separate crime. "The ends justify the means" has long ago been described as fruit of the poison tree, and has reversed many court decisions. The press should never be exempt from the laws the rest of us are subject to.
The laws are far more forgiving when it comes to information and the press. For example, if I knowingly receive a stolen car, I get charged with a crime though I did not commit the initial theft. Conversely, if I knowingly receive stolen information that proves Donald Trump has committed a crime and then publish it, I get a Pulitzer.
 
Likes: Sabcat
Apr 2016
734
500
Florida
#4
From an interesting editorial in today's Boston Globe, they express concern that Julian Assange might be prosecuted for making public sensitive information. The relevant passage:

Press freedom advocates have long feared that the government would move to punish Assange, and on Thursday it at first seemed as if their worst fears were coming true. But the government threw an unexpected curveball. Instead of charging Assange with crimes related to publishing the stolen documents, which would have raised serious press-freedom and constitutional concerns, they charged him only with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.” In other words, they accused Assange of a hacking-related crime, not a publishing crime.

Which brings to mind a hypothetical. Let's suppose a "source" for a paper like the Globe steals from the CIA a list of Taliban informants living in Afghanistan. Should a media outlet be prosecuted for publishing those names or is the only crime the original theft of the list?
If the Globe assisted the source in obtaining the names, they would be equally liable as Assange was in helping Manning hack secret documents.

If not, the SCOTUS has ruledthat the publisher of the documents is expecting his/her right of free speech and press.
 
Likes: Clara007
Dec 2018
2,426
779
New England
#5
If the Globe assisted the source in obtaining the names, they would be equally liable as Assange was in helping Manning hack secret documents.

If not, the SCOTUS has ruledthat the publisher of the documents is expecting his/her right of free speech and press.
I'm not so much asking "what doe the law say?" It's more "what should the law say?" for my given example.
 
Mar 2013
9,639
10,335
Middle Tennessee
#6
The laws are far more forgiving when it comes to information and the press. For example, if I knowingly receive a stolen car, I get charged with a crime though I did not commit the initial theft. Conversely, if I knowingly receive stolen information that proves Donald Trump has committed a crime and then publish it, I get a Pulitzer.
The point would be Trump had already committed the crime. How you received that information is less relevant. What if you received the names of CIA contacts in Iraq and published those names ? With in a few days each of those people are subsequently murdered ? You would be responsible for their deaths and I think chargeable.
 
Likes: Clara007
Dec 2018
2,426
779
New England
#7
What if you received the names of CIA contacts in Iraq and published those names ? With in a few days each of those people are subsequently murdered ? You would be responsible for their deaths and I think chargeable.
Others here seem to disagree.

What's interesting in both cases the publisher committed the same act: receipt of stolen items.
 
Mar 2013
9,639
10,335
Middle Tennessee
#8
While Trump now says he has little knowledge of Wikileaks during the campaign he said he LOVED Wikileaks. Let's also not forget that he actually suggested that Russia "find" Hillary's missing emails ??

Trump urges Russia to hack Clinton's email

I don't think Trump and his current DOJ or FBI stooges are going to dig very deep for fear they might incriminate themselves.
 
Likes: DeadEyeDick
Mar 2013
9,639
10,335
Middle Tennessee
#9
Others here seem to disagree.

What's interesting in both cases the publisher committed the same act: receipt of stolen items.

And in either case I think they could both be charged, even under current law. Receiving stolen goods is still receiving stolen goods. Even if those goods are information. However in one case the reporting of a crime already committed, versus the second where one or more crimes would be committed because the release of the information, the latter may be more likely to be charged.
 
Apr 2014
3,170
1,364
redacted
#10
From an interesting editorial in today's Boston Globe, they express concern that Julian Assange might be prosecuted for making public sensitive information. The relevant passage:

Press freedom advocates have long feared that the government would move to punish Assange, and on Thursday it at first seemed as if their worst fears were coming true. But the government threw an unexpected curveball. Instead of charging Assange with crimes related to publishing the stolen documents, which would have raised serious press-freedom and constitutional concerns, they charged him only with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.” In other words, they accused Assange of a hacking-related crime, not a publishing crime.

Which brings to mind a hypothetical. Let's suppose a "source" for a paper like the Globe steals from the CIA a list of Taliban informants living in Afghanistan. Should a media outlet be prosecuted for publishing those names or is the only crime the original theft of the list?
Not a lawyer, but publishing such a list could easily result in the deaths of those informants and their families. Additionally, the loss of information could also result in the lost of life among allies. I can see where charges of collaboration, treason or undermining the security of the US would be appropriate.