Congresswoman Jane Harman is in a pickle this week after Jeff Stein at CQ reported that an NSA wiretap caught her wheeling and dealing with a suspected Israeli agent (for more on this complicated matter, see Laura Rozen's invaluable blog). This alleged conversation was prompted by accusations that two AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, received secrets from an American government source and passed those secrets orally to an Israeli embassy official and to a reporter for The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler. Rosen and Weissman are scheduled to go on trial in June for passing these secrets. But by the standards set by the Justice Department (standards never before enforced -- the law under which the two men are being prosecuted was passed in 1918 but never employed until now), shouldn't the government be investigating the source of the NSA leak to Stein, and shouldn't that person -- and Stein, for that matter -- be prosecuted for trafficking in presumably classified NSA material?
The answer, of course, is no, because this is not Great Britain and we don't have an Official Secrets Act in this country. And we certainly don't punish the recipients of leaked information.
I know the conspiracists out there believe that the Rosen/Weissman case is about the pernicious influence of Israel on American foreign policy, but, as The Washington Post pointed out last month, in an editorial arguing that the case ought to be dropped, this is a free-speech issue, pure and simple.
UPDATE: The annoyingly accurate Jack Shafer points out to me that the Espionage Act has been employed before, in the case of a Navy intelligence analyst caught providing classified satellite photographs to a British military journal.
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