Who’s Being Targeted?

The Espionage Act, is critical when it comes to protecting America specifically in a time of war. There is certain information that should be regarded as sacred or at least classified. For example, if someone leaked information about where American troops are residing or their next steps; they have essentially given away the position of American troops. Any one that wants to hurt those troops now has the information needed to attack them. It makes sense that the American government would never want certain information published for fear that that information might end up I the wrong hands. Because of my personal feeling towards those who sacrifice themselves for our freedom, I agree that whoever gives up this type of information should face a harsh penalty. In my opinion the issue with the Espionage Act is not regarding the leaker, but has to do with how the information is handled afterwards. The Espionage Act “also applies …to anyone who knowingly disseminates, distributes or even retains national defense, and can be used to injure the United States or benefit a foreign power, he is violating the Act’s plain language”(Rosenzweig, McNulty, Shearer, 33). Immediately I’m torn by this quote. Again, anyone that is willing to share information that could potentially harm the United States including our troops; should be punished. When I think of someone sharing classified information about war I think about troops losing their limbs or even their lives, I think about ambushes and landmines, but I also think about the information that will be saved to use against the country in the future.

On the other hand, it is the duty of news organizations to share information. News organizations are supposed to inform citizens so that they can either vote or advocate by sharing their thoughts and opinions. News organizations have been the driving forces in changing the time frame of wars, by bringing information about the war home and allowing citizens to understand the full scope of what is going on abroad. We cannot allow ourselves to forget that the people risking their lives by signing up to fight, might not completely know what they are fighting for. If important pieces of information are not shared with potential troops they are essentially roped into a war that they might not believe in and then they are not able to leave. By giving citizens more information they also receive more of a say. Citizens should be able to decide, whether they want their loved one senselessly dying a brutal death in a foreign country. The above quote about the Espionage Act explains that even journalist reporting or sharing the information will be reprimanded by the law. If I am being honest I feel like they should face some punishment because they are engaging in further sharing this vital information, but as journalist it is their duty to stand up and give information to those that cannot access it. Journalist should face harsh penalties for their involvement in distributing or holding information that could hurt the United States, but I am not sure if they should endure the same repercussions as the leaker.

One thought on “Who’s Being Targeted?

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  1. You identify a couple of conflicting values. It is hard, however to operationalize what you have written. If news outlets face criminal penalties for printing/running stories that divulge classified information about a way, they will be unlikely to run such stories which you have also identified as their duty.
    There is clearly a need for editorial discretion. However, asking the government to decide what is harmful and what is not is a situation ripe for abuse. Given the way in which the government has overclassified information, it is doubtful that it would show restraint when it comes to those leaking & printing information.
    It would also seem that the law must reflect the difference of being a leaker of information to the press and a traitor who gives information to the enemy. At the moment, we use the espionage act to enforce both which seems heavy handed to say the lease.

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