Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Thursday, February 16, 2006

ACLU: Protecting the Traitors

At least, that's John at Stop the ACLU's take on this.

"Citing growing concerns over court decisions that have weakened laws designed to protect whistleblowers, the American Civil Liberties Union today called on Congress to enact stronger protections for whistleblowers, especially those in the national security arena."

John's view:

"Whistle blower is too nice of a word to describe someone that leaked classified National Security information. The ACLU emphasizes these traitors needing protection? They are criminals that need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

The issue came up in my First Amendment class about the extent to which the CIA can prevent its agents from divulging information obtained while working for the Agency. A guy named Snepp did just that when he published a book about his experiences, and in a famous opinion, the court made him give the CIA all the profits earned from book sales.

That was basically a contract law case, rather than a constitutional law case. I looked at the issue exclusively through the contract law lense, and decided that since Snepp had promised, when he first started working there, that he wouldn't divulge any information, the court was right to hold him to his contractual obligations. The First Amendment doesn't come into play because he voluntarily signed a contract, which in effect waived his free speech rights. Because the fact is, we can and do waive constitutional rights all the time -- I have a constitutional right to burn the flag, but I choose not to exercise that right. Same with Snepp. He had the right to publish anything he wanted, but as soon as he signed that contract, he waived his rights to some limited extent.