DOJ:Journalists Can Be Prosecuted for Publishing Classified Information

Clarice Feldman
The Department of Justice has concluded (hat tip: Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News) that, while its emphasis is on prosecuting leakers of classified information, the Espionage Act does permit the prosecution of journalists who publish such information without authorization:
The espionage statutes concerning classified information could be employed against journalists who publish such information without authorization, a Justice Department official told Congress recently, elaborating on remarks made last year by Attorney General Gonzales. Those statutes, "on their face, do not provide an exemption for any particular profession or class of persons, including journalists," wrote Matthew W. Friedrich, DoJ Criminal Division Chief of Staff, in a March 2007 response to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee that has been newly published.

He stressed that "the Justice Department's primary focus has been and will continue to be investigating and prosecuting leakers, not members
of the press."

But he added that "it would be inappropriate to comment on whether the Department is now considering the prosecution of journalists for publishing classified information."
So--what's taking them so long to do it?
The Department of Justice has concluded (hat tip: Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News) that, while its emphasis is on prosecuting leakers of classified information, the Espionage Act does permit the prosecution of journalists who publish such information without authorization:
The espionage statutes concerning classified information could be employed against journalists who publish such information without authorization, a Justice Department official told Congress recently, elaborating on remarks made last year by Attorney General Gonzales. Those statutes, "on their face, do not provide an exemption for any particular profession or class of persons, including journalists," wrote Matthew W. Friedrich, DoJ Criminal Division Chief of Staff, in a March 2007 response to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee that has been newly published.

He stressed that "the Justice Department's primary focus has been and will continue to be investigating and prosecuting leakers, not members
of the press."

But he added that "it would be inappropriate to comment on whether the Department is now considering the prosecution of journalists for publishing classified information."
So--what's taking them so long to do it?