A Republican congressman said on Wednesday that journalists should be called before grand juries in any investigations surrounding national security leaks.
Trey Gowdy made the comments during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on possible legislation to crack down on leaks and potentially prosecute reporters for publishing classified information.
Congress has been in a tizzy ever since multiple New York Times stories revealed details about President Obama's so-called "kill list" and American cyber-attacks against Iran. The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the sources of the leaks, and legislators on both sides of the aisle promised to come up with stiffer penalties for leaking.
The White House has touted its aggressive leak policy and asserted that reporters have no special rights if they receive classified information from sources. Though its stance has drawn sharp criticism from whistleblowers and journalists, the White House would appear to have a friend in Gowdy when it comes to this issue.
In Wednesday's hearing, Gowdy compared journalists to "deceptive advertisements" and "high school students."
"The notion that the First Amendment has no limitations whatsoever is balderdash," he said. He then added that there was no reason not to subpoena reporters, since they all seemed to want to go to jail anyway:
"Put them in front of the grand jury. You either answer the question or you're going to be held in contempt and go to jail, which is what I thought all reporters aspire to do anyway. I mean all of us aspire to be committee chairmen. I thought that was the crown jewel of the reporter's resume to actually go to jail protecting a source. Give them what they want!"
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