After the release of the USA Today and New York Times reports on covert National Security Agency (NSA) programs, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales begins publicly contemplating prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information under the Espionage Act.
At a press conference on May 23, Gonzales defends the NSA’s programs and walks back his previous comments concerning the possibility of prosecuting journalists for reporting on NSA surveillance programs. Gonzales states:
[L]et me try to reassure journalists. My primary focus quite frankly is on leakers who share the information with journalists and, of course, I would much prefer to deal directly with responsible journalists and try to persuade them that writing or publishing a story that jeopardizes or compromises national security, secret programs of the United States which been very effective in protecting America against terrorist groups like al Qaeda that it would be better not to publish those kind of stories.
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