Should those journalists be indicted too?

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204527804576044020396601528

As we all know that Daniel Ellsberg exposed the top secrets of government about Vietnam War to the world in 1971. Even though Mr. Ellsberg gave the New York Times a large number of the Pentagon Papers in1971, he decided to keep 4 volumes confidential because those were closely related to the diplomatic endeavors the US government had done to try to resolve the war by negotiating with other nations. His action was accepted as “good” while, on the other hand, Wikileaks was mostly doubted and considered as “bad” in 2010.

Different from the information revealed about the Pentagon Papers, the confidential information revealed on Wikileaks was not tailored to either prevent the uproar of people or the diplomatic concern of the nation. It simply showed the disdain of Wikileaks on the facts that government was keeping its dirty secrets from people.

Ironically, Assange could still escape from the legal punishment and the journalists helping disseminating and analyzing the sensitive information could be indicted as “willfully” communicating the information “relating to the national defense” according to Section 793 of the Espionage Act. However, no journalist was indicted under the circumstances.

The author Floyd Abrams (who is also a lawyer considered an authoritative figure in the area related to the First Amendment) clearly stated that “under that reading of the legislation, if Mr. Assange were found to have communicated and retained the secret information with the intent to harm the United States—some of his statements can be so read—a conviction might be obtained. But if Mr. Assange were viewed as simply following his deeply held view that the secrets of government should be bared, notwithstanding the consequences, he might escape legal punishment.” Because of the conflicting contents in the First Amendment and in the Section 793 of the Espionage Act, whether Mr. Assange should be convict for his “conspiratorial” action is called into question again.

3 thoughts on “Should those journalists be indicted too?”

  1. I can see there if a big difference between Assange and Ellsberg. Ellsberg retained some of the information while Assange publishes all his findings. Assange should not be prosecuted because he if following all journalistic laws

  2. Your title talks about journalists, but I don’t see much about journalists in your post—would you mind explaining a bit more what the worry for journalists is in this case? Your title brings up the prospect of punishing journalists for reporting on these stories—what do you see as the legal and ethical stakes of the potential of doing so?

    1. I think the reason why I decided to include “Journalists” in my title was that it linked to the argument Floyd Abram made which questioned whether Assenge should be indicted. The question in the title would provoke the curiosity of readers and make them more willing to read my essay.

      Still, I do agree that I should’ve talked more about journalists and their responsibilities in Wikileaks and the crisis it caused to people’s trust in government.

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