Century Old Espionage Law Being Used to Reign in the Press
By Doug Porter
For as long as there’s been a central government in the United States, it’s been attempting to reign in the press.
The 1798 Alien and Sedition Act was an effort by the governing Federalist Party to criminalize criticism of Congress and the President. President Abraham Lincoln signed numerous executive orders which made it both illegal and punishable by death to hold “correspondence with” or give “intelligence to the enemy, either directly or indirectly”.
Twentieth century presidents resorted to covert surveillance and even blackmail when they couldn’t find a handy law to keep the fourth estate in check.
The latest chapters in this ongoing saga involve search warrants that ultimately covered months of work, home and cellphone records used by almost 100 people at the Associated Press and secret court actions naming Fox News reporter James Rosen as criminal co-conspirator in an espionage case.