Wikileaks and the Espionage Act
Harold Koh has warned Wikileaks of the dire consequences to the United States resulting from the publication of over 250,000 classified documents. But I doubt that Julian Assange and Wikileaks cares much about the damage done to our nation from this breach. What they presumably do care about is criminal prosecution. As Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post argues today, it seems fairly clear that Assange has violated the Espionage Act. Read the key provisions for yourself:
Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid [e.g., obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation], and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, … any … document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense; or
(c) Whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, … or note, of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this chapter; or….
(e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, … or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; ….
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
Given Wikileaks’ multiple breaches of the Espionage Act in recent months, why oh why has it taken so long for Obama, Holder, Clinton, Koh and company to bring criminal charges against Assange? Can anyone with expertise in this area offer a plausible explanation for their stunning failure to take action?