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Published:August 12th, 2006 11:30 EST
Break the Law to Break the News

Break the Law to Break the News

By Andrew Chien

The press may soon have to commit a felony in order to make a commitment to their occupational duties.

A major trial is approaching in which the Justice Department asserts that it can charge the recipients of classified material as criminals. Baruch Weiss, a lawyer for the defense said, “Anyone who comes into possession of classified data and talks about it would be guilty of a felony.” This includes journalists that uncover these leaks for the best interests of the public.

Woodward and Bernstein uncovering Watergate is a good example. However, the press isn’t the only group at risk. Federal whistleblowers seeking to expose corruption often share classified data with Congressional staffers.

It is doubtful that Congressional staffers would maintain this relationship if faced with felony charges. “We’ve argued that if the government is right, the press commits a crime every day,” said Weiss.