A Gitmo for national-security reporters.

Media criticism.
March 14 2006 9:22 PM

A Gitmo for Journos

Who besides the New York Times could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act?

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Seymour M. Hersh seems like another Section 798 achiever. His New Yorkerpiece from 2001, just a month after 9/11, drew heavily on ongoing NSA intercepts of conversations between members of the bickering and corrupt Saudi royal family. This security breach, if it was one, couldn't have pleased the Bush administration.

Who else rates a Gitmo berth? Don't be shy, past and present members of the national-security beat! I'm talking to you, Walter Pincus, Dana Priest, William F. Arkin, Stephen F. Hayes, Tim Weiner, Mark Hosenball, David Ensor, Barton Gellman, David Martin, Steve Coll, Vernon Loeb, Dafna Linzer, and John Walcott.

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All towel-snapping aside, will the Bush administration pursue the Schoenfeld option? Last month, Fred Kaplan cast a net wider than Section 798 to explain that if the Espionage Act can be turned on the defendants in the AIPAC case, nobody is safe. Criminal defense attorney Harvey Silverglate ponders the likelihood of a Times prosecution in the Jan. 17, 2006, Boston Phoenix. Viewing the current conflict as a kind of replay of President Richard Nixon's war on leaks and leakers, one that was aborted by the Watergate scandal, Silverglate concludes that a Times prosecution is "not far-fetched."

Any criminal case against the Times would test both Bush's political will and his legal means, Silverglate writes. The Plame leak investigation and the perjury prosecution of Scooter Libby may have sapped that will. But if Bush imagines himself as Nixon before the fall and of journalists as enemies of the state, it could be "one helluva fight," as Silverglate puts it, "the fight that we never got to see between Nixon and the media."

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Other Gitmo journo candidates? Send your suggestions and evidence to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.