Wednesday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security looks into recent national security and intelligence leaks.
The leaks revealed the Obama administration’s role in clandestine operations against al-Qaeda, as well as the expanded use of drones by U.S., and the use of cyber attacks against Iran.
Members' questions included several focusing on the issue of a "reporters' privilege," which would prevent journalists from having to testify in leak cases. The United States does not have a statutory reporters' privilege, relying instead on common law and case law, which has given journalists limited privilege to refuse subpoenas.
Witnesses suggested that there must be serious damage to national security before the reporter can be subpoenaed, but disagreed at what point that threshold would be reached. The panel agreed that the first amendment provided broad protections to reporters, and that any investigation would have to balance the right to free speech with the desire to protect assets in foreign countries and security.
Witnesses include George W. Bush’s homeland security adviser Kenneth Wainstein, and attorney Steve Vladeck, who challenged the Bush administration’s use of military tribunals at Guantanamo.
The Justice Department has named two attorneys to investigate the series of leaks that have been criticized by both parties.