A grand jury has been empaneled in the Eastern District of Virginia to investigate a possible violation of the Espionage Act involving the computer-based acquisition of protected government information concerning national defense or foreign relations. In other words, the Grand Jury seems to be investigating WikiLeaks.
Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com reported that a summons to appear before the Grand Jury on May 11 was served on an unidentified recipient in Cambridge, MA. He also posted a copy of the document. See “FBI serves Grand Jury subpoena likely relating to WikiLeaks,” April 27.
The initial hurdle to any possible prosecution of WikiLeaks is to identify a specific crime that it may have committed.
The subpoena suggests that the path chosen by prosecutors (as predicted) is to allege a conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act under 18 USC 793(g). But like much of the Espionage Act, the practical meaning of this statute is quite unclear. So is its application here, beyond the bare implication that WikiLeaks instigated the unlawful transfer of information in a manner that is not protected by freedom of the press.
As things stand, everyone agrees that information gained by committing a crime is not protected by the First Amendment. One cannot expect to break into a building to steal documents and publish them, and then invoke freedom of the press.
But what constitutes a crime? Is it asking a question about a topic that one knows to be classified? Buying someone lunch in the hope that he may divulge closely held information? Indicating a willingness and a capacity to receive unauthorized disclosures confidentially? These would hardly seem to qualify as criminal acts since they are ordinary conventions of national security reporting.
What makes this case both important and dangerous is that by pursuing this line of attack, the reported Grand Jury investigation of WikiLeaks may “clarify” such speculative matters, thereby generating new limitations on freedom of the press.
To empower new voices to start their career in nuclear weapons studies, the Federation of American Scientists launched the New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship. Here’s what our inaugural cohort accomplished.
Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.