A Republican senator has proposed rewriting the Espionage Act to target WikiLeaks.
Sen. John Ensign of Nevada yesterday announced a bill that would make it illegal to identify informants working with the U.S. military, which WikiLeaks did earlier this year when releasing files from the war in Afghanistan.
In last week’s Iraq war files release, WikiLeaks removed names, but the U.S. Defense Department said yesterday that information in the leaked documents could still identify dozens of people.
“My legislation will extend the legal protections for government informants, such as the Iraqis named in this latest document dump, and will prevent an organization such as WikiLeaks from hiding like a coward behind a computer mainframe while putting lives in jeopardy,” Ensign said.
Current law (18 USC 798) makes it illegal to disclose classified information about a “code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States” or “the communication intelligence activities of the United States.” Any violation is a federal felony that can be punished with significant fines and prison terms of up to 10 years.