NRO’s Andrew McCarthy makes sense of the politics, both popular and judicial. His conclusion: aggressively go after the leakers, immunize the journalists, and threaten them with contempt-of-court jailtime if they don’t reveal their sources. His concluding paragraphs:
Chances are that the journalists who have exposed leaked national-security information over the past several months do not want to spend 18 months in prison. If they were put in that position, we would very likely learn who did the leaking. Those officials could then be indicted. A prosecution against government officials does not entail the same free-speech complications.Read the whole thing.
On the other hand, even if the subpoenaed reporters flouted the law by never giving up their sources — even if they took the incredibly arrogant position that their secrets take precedence over the nation’s secrets — 18 months’ imprisonment is a powerful disincentive. Fewer reporters would run the risk. Fewer would-be government leakers would bank on a reporter’s perseverance. The leaks would dry up in a hurry.
That ought to be the goal here.