Floyd Abrams published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he argued that the content of leaked information should determine whether or not the publisher should be protected from prosecution under the Espionage Act. He pointed out that Daniel Ellsberg leaked only a portion of the Pentagon Papers and kept back four volumes of diplomatic communications because he did not wish to obstruct diplomatic efforts to end the Vietnam War. Mr. Abrams went on to blast WikiLeaks for releasing diplomatic cables and blames WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange’s conduct for dooming the chances of enacting a federal shield law.
This contradicts Daniel Ellsberg’s own statements in support of WikiLeaks and, moreover, is directly at odds with his position regarding “good leaks” and “bad leaks” during the whole Judy Miller fiasco.
In an interview with PBS’s Frontline Mr. Abrams discussed his defense of Judy Miller thusly:
[Q]… The other bad fact was that whoever was being protected apparently by Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper wasn’t really a whistleblower, was apparently someone out to damage the reputation of a dissenter.
[A]… It’s true that in a situation in which what is involved is not a whistleblower exposing misconduct within the government, say, but someone within the government, particularly in a situation in which it could be said that the person’s using his position to attack someone else, in that circumstance it made it a still more difficult case. No question of that.
Now, my own view is that the law can’t and shouldn’t distinguish, and I would say journalists can’t and shouldn’t distinguish between good sources and bad, virtuous sources and unvirtuous ones. If a journalist grants confidentiality, I think the journalist has to keep her word.
It’s important to note here that whoever leaked the Collateral Murder video to WikiLeaks is clearly a whistleblower as the release of the video clearly exposed wrongdoing. Supposedly, it is the leak of the Collateral Murder video for which Pvt. Bradley Manning has been charged. . . . Read the rest of this entry →