Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Snowden may have taken Booz job just to expose the NSA and start "Wikileaks II"

Walter Pincus has an interesting column on the Washington Post Tuesday, p. A11, “Snowden’s links to Wikileaks and journalists raises questions”, link here
Put bluntly, the allegation is that Snowden took the job with Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii in order to gain access to materials that he could link to journalists, especially Glenn Greenwald of the UK Guardian, and filmmaker Laura Poitras.

It seems rather shocking that a major contractor would have hired someone with no questions asked and such a spurious background investigation, given my own personal history with security clearances in the distant past.

Here’s a question: If a blogger were to stumble into possession of classified information, could he or she be prosecuted for publishing it?  On a few occasions, I have unsolicited received materials by email which might have classified if true. I have not published them and have contacted authorities on at least four occasions, with an extensive telephone conversation with the FBI once in 2005.
The general answer to the question is “probably” no, but Congress has toyed with legislation that could put journalists and bloggers in vague jeopardy if they did so.  (After all, Wikileaks was driven off the web.)  Emily Peterson has a long article “WikiLeaks and the Espionage Act of 1917 on a site called Reporters’ Committee, link here

Timothy Lee reports a distantly related case about “scraping” about Andrew Auernheimer on the Post Wonkblog, here. It is possible to get into legal trouble with this stuff.  This case sounds a bit more like Aaron Swartz to me.  

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