The Air Force and The Espionage Act

The Air Force Oversteps Its Bounds – published 9 Feb 2011

Recently, the Air Force announced possible prosecution under the Espionage Act to civilian family members who read Wikileaks on private computers The idea that a USAF wife, child or relative would be prosecuted for reading a public message by private means is both ludicrous and chilling to the bone.

According to Air Force Materiel Command’s legal office, “If a family member of an Air Force employee accesses WikiLeaks on a home computer, the family member may be subject to prosecution for espionage under U.S. Code Title 18 Section 793. The Air Force member would have an obligation to safeguard the information under the general guidance to safeguard classified information.” [Air Force Print News Today, “Command Offers Wikileaks Guidance” AFMC Public Affairs report, 3 Feb 2011.]

The still current Espionage Act (also known as the Sedition Act of 1918) made it a crime to be publicly against World War One, and hundreds (some say thousands) of Americans were imprisoned for simply saying so in public. Is it now being used again for odious purposes?

This should make you ask the question, at what point does any citizen become a criminal for simply reading something? Maybe you’ll become a criminal for reading this opinion.

Somewhere along the line some military leaders have truly lost their compass.

The Air Force’s reason for being is to assure our liberties, not threaten to throw families in prison for reading.

Pete Blome
Chair,
Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County