from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 79
August 1, 2007

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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."

The congressional correspondence touched on several issues that are new or rarely addressed.

"What about conduct that is incidental to a journalist publishing a story," asked Senator Pat Leahy, "such as retaining classified documents that may be used later in a story, or communicating such information to a publisher or other reporters in the course of writing a story?"

The legality of these activities would "depend on the particular facts and circumstances," Mr. Friedrich replied. "It would be inappropriate to offer an advisory opinion about the legality of such conduct."

Could improper or unnecessary classification be used as a defense against prosecution? "We are aware of no case that affirmatively holds that such a defense is available to defendants in Espionage Act cases," Mr. Friedrich wrote. And he cited one Ninth Circuit decision that said that "under section 798 [one of the espionage statutes], the propriety of the classification is irrelevant."

He disclosed that "over the past five years, the Department has approved search warrants for materials related to the news gathering process... in four cases." These were not specified.

Mr. Friedrich's answers to questions for the record from Senators Specter and Leahy, transmitted March 1, 2007, are posted here:

They were recently published in the record of a June 6, 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Examining DOJ's Investigation of Journalists Who Publish Classified Information: Lessons from the Jack Anderson Case":


Director of National Intelligence J.M. McConnell has issued new Intelligence Community Directives on standards for intelligence analysis and on document exploitation.

"Analysts and managers should provide objective assessments informed by available information that are not distorted or altered with the intent of supporting or advocating a particular policy, political viewpoint, or audience," the DNI instructed.

See "Analytical Standards," Intelligence Community Directive 203, June 21, 2007:

Meanwhile, a new interagency DNI Center called the National Media Exploitation Center "will serve to advance the IC's collective DOMEX [document and media exploitation] capabilities on behalf of the DNI."

See "Document and Media Exploitation," ICD 302, July 6, 2007:

Also new is "National Intelligence Board," ICD 202, July 16, 2007:


The U.S. Army Ranger Handbook, updated last year, provides an introduction to this branch of Army special operations forces with a mixture of history, lore, doctrine, operational guidance and survival tips.

"Tell the truth about what you see and what you do," advised a historic Ranger document from 1759, reprinted in the current Handbook. "There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer."

See "Ranger Handbook," U.S. Army, July 2006:


Recent reports of the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

"Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations," updated July 30, 2007:

"Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa," updated July 6, 2007:

"Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) Status for Russia and U.S.-Russian Economic Ties," updated July 10, 2007:

"Judicial Security: Responsibilities and Current Issues," updated July 9, 2007:

"Judicial Security: Comparison of Legislation in the 110th Congress," updated July 11, 2007:

"Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests," updated July 12, 2007:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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