This Day in History: March 3

March 3, 1918:  The most controversial sections of the US Espionage Act — a set of amendments commonly called the Sedition Act of 1918 — are repealed. But the original  Act is left intact.

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Here are some ‘Intelligence-related’ events that occurred on a March 3. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code (War) but is now found under Title 18, Crime. Specifically, it is 18 U.S.C. ch. 37 (18 U.S.C. § 792 et seq.)

It was intended to prohibit interference with military operations or recruitment, to prevent insubordination in the military, and to prevent the support of United States enemies during wartime. In 1919, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled through Schenck v. United States that the act did not violate the freedom of speech of those convicted under its provisions. The constitutionality of the law, its relationship to free speech, and the meaning of its language have been contested in court ever since.

Among those charged with offences under the Act are German-American socialist congressman and newspaper editor Victor L. Berger, labor leader and four time Socialist Party of America candidate, Eugene V. Debs, anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, former Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society president Joseph Franklin Rutherford, communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Cablegate whistleblower Chelsea Manning, and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden. [Wikipedia]

Although the most controversial sections of the Act, a set of amendments commonly called the Sedition Act of 1918, were repealed on March 3 1921, the original Espionage Act was left intact.

Prior to the Obama administration, there had been only three known cases resulting in indictments in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute government officials for leaks. (Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo 1971, Samuel Morison 1985 and Lawrence Franklin 2005. There is a similar case dating from 1945.) The ‘Obama Administration’ added seven cases to the list. That is right: 7 out of 10 under one President…

RELATED POST: Obama’s Crackdown on National Security Leaks

RELATED POST: No Presidential Pardon for Ex-CIA Jeffrey Sterling

RELATED POST: Obama: “I Cannot Pardon Snowden.”

REFERENCES

Espionage Act of 1917 — Wikipedia

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