Precinct 333

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Did Hersh Article Break The Law?

A recent New Yorker article by Sidney Hersh disclosed the following.

The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran ... Much of the focus is on accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical and missile sites. ... (The) American commando task force has been set up in South Asia and is now working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists and technicians who had dealt with Iranian counterparts ... The American task force ... .has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground installations ... The task force members, or their locally recruited agents, secreted remote detection devices ...

Columnist Tony Blankley points out that this disclosure appears to be a violation of Title 18 United States Code section 794, subsections (a) & (b). Those provisions of federal law prohibit the publication of national defense information during time of war in a manner that would be useful to the enemy. These violations are punishable "by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life."

Hersh discloses troop movements, the location of those movements, the missions of the troops, and the assistance received from locals. This would be very useful to al-Qaeda and to Iran. Is there a prison cell (perhaps on death row) with Mr. Hersh's name on it?

And even if there isn't -- what are the ethics of publishing information that increases the level of danger to US military personnel in the field?


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