Lieberman Wants The New York Times Investigated

by Kevin Jon Heller

He may be a horrible senator, but at least Joe Lieberman is (relatively) consistent:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who has become one of the most vocal critics of Wikileaks, said today that while Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is definitely guilty of crimes, the New York Times may also have broken the law by posting some of those diplomatic cables.

“To me, the New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship,” Lieberman said on Fox News today. “Whether they’ve committed a crime, I think that bears very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department.”

Lieberman acknowledged that the idea is “sensitive” because “it gets into the First Amendment.”

Of course, if criminal prosecution “gets into the First Amendment” for The New York Times, it gets into for WikiLeaks as well.  There may be intent differences between the two — although it is important to keep in mind Steve Vladeck’s recent post and the fact that paragraph (c) of the Espionage Act does not contain a “reason to believe” requirement — but I have heard no plausible argument that the First Amendment applies differently to The New York Times and WikiLeaks.  (Unless, of course, obeisance to the government is your operative criterion.)  Both simply published material leaked by others, and in some cases The New York Times published the material first.

All is not completely well, however, with Lieberman.  He also thinks that Assange should be prosecuted for treason:

He also wondered why Assange, an Australian citizen, hasn’t been charged with treason in the U.S.

“What do you think of the Justice Department’s actions so far not to charge Julian Assange with treason?” the Fox anchor, Jenna Lee, asked.

“I don’t understand why that hasn’t happened yet,” Lieberman said.

Why the Australian Assange owes “allegiance to the United States,” as required by 18 USC 2381, Lieberman doesn’t bother to explain.

2 Responses

  1. “Why the Australian Assange owes “allegiance to the United States,” as required by 18 USC 2381, Lieberman doesn’t bother to explain.”

    If you take note of the premise that by definition the entire planet should yield to the interests of the US of A it makes perfect sense.

  2. Could there be treaties between the US and Australia which could make it such that all Australian citizens owe allegiance to the United States?

    (Disclaimer: I’m a first a year law student so this might be a very basic question).

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