The government has the legal authority to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday.
“There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility,” Mr. Gonzales said on the ABC News program “This Week.”
“That’s a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation,” he continued. “We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected.”
Asked whether he was open to the possibility that The New York Times should be prosecuted for its disclosures in December concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program, Mr. Gonzales said his department was trying to determine “the appropriate course of action in that particular case.”
“I’m not going to talk about it specifically,” he said. “We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity.”