GOP And Joe Lieberman Want Law To Prosecute Websites That Publish Already-Released Information

Posted by | December 2, 2010 23:37 | Filed under: Top Stories

Senators John Ensign, Scott Brown, and Joe Lieberman are teaming up on a bill that would go after websites that publish information after it had been leaked (h/t Raw Story). Lieberman already put pressure on Amazon to stop hosting the WikiLeaks site, and is now trying to make sure other sites don’t accept their business either.

“We’ve gotta put pressure on any companies — like Amazon, [which] just cut Wikileaks off from its servers to distribute — there’s a company now in Sweden, I think it’s called Bahnhof, which is providing that kind of access to the Internet to Wikileaks….We’ve got to stop them from doing that.”

A proposed new bill would make it a crime to publish the name of an intelligence source, even after it’s already leaked.

Note that it is already illegal to leak such a name, but this bill seeks to make it illegal to publish the names after they’ve been leaked. This seems like a classic violation of the First Amendment. As Wired notes, something like this would make it illegal for a newspaper to publish the fact that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noreiga was once a paid CIA intelligence source. Hell, there are claims that Osama bin Laden worked with the CIA decades ago. Should it be illegal to report that?

Here’s the really ridiculous aspect of all of this, however. In an internet era when all of these details are available from tons of sources and file sharing networks well beyond any single website, going after websites to censor them and making it a crime to report factual information is such an antiquated and pointless move. Senator Lieberman’s actions here are like trying to deal with a few bees entering his home by burning it down. Not only is it a massive overreaction that damages some key infrastructure, but it’s also unlikely to be even remotely effective.

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By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.

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