No foolproof way to plug information leaks

Ellis Henican

Newsday columnist Ellis Henican Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a

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Feel free to send me stuff anonymously, the more scurrilous the better.

Even now. Especially now.

I have to mention this -- that my mailbox and my inbox are open for business -- given all the recent uproar over the way that federal prosecutors have been poking around in private communications of news reporters. The Associated Press and Fox News correspondent James Rosen have both been targeted by prosecutors trying to catch government leakers.

Just to be clear: I have a strong position on leaks. I am for them -- now, forever and always. Without leaks, we'd have to fill the paper with a bunch of boring press releases -- and really, how much fun would that be?

Barack Obama spoke up nicely on Friday for a federal shield law, which would restrict, though not stop, these government fishing expeditions. But here, as in so many parts of life, the better answer may lie in technology -- not the law.

The New Yorker magazine is now carrying on the work of pioneering hacker Aaron Swartz, who was facing 35 years in prison in a computer-crimes prosecution before he killed himself in January. Swartz's online Strongbox is one way -- there are others -- of delivering juicy documents in near-certain confidence.

So don't lose heart -- or nerve.

There is still the U.S. mail and the Gmail account set up at FedEx Office and the old-fashioned manila envelope over the newsroom transom. But I should probably warn you, no matter which delivery method you choose: someone could be watching, whether you know it or not.

SPECIAL DELIVERY

1. Sleazy gossip

2. Unconfirmed rumor

3. Clear vendetta

4. Raw intelligence

5. Yes, but is it interesting, provocative, important or fun?

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: If Andrew Cuomo really wants to help promote LI tourism, why not invite random out-of-towners to spend a weekend at brother Chris' sparkling Southampton spread? Just imagine the social-media word-of-mouth on that . . . As the post-Sandy hurricane season arrives, have home generators become so popular that local governments will feel a need to start regulating them? The Roslyn village board is answering "Yes" . . . Are the LIRR thresholds for "suspicious passenger" and "suspicious package" getting too low? That was no bomber who caused Thursday's 30-minute delay in Bethpage -- just a friendly dentist and his bag of torture tools . . . Have you checked out the new pedestrian plaza at Huntington Station? Frank Petrone's 18,000 square feet of landscaping and concrete pavers won't enliven the area unless people actually walk there . . . No resorts? No condos? What exactly will a future buyer be allowed to build on Plum Island? Hey, how 'bout turning the federal animal-disease research center into a federal animal-disease research center? Anyone think of that? . . . Ira Rennert's 64,000-square-foot Sagaponack compound was just a start for him? Now he's petitioned the village zoning board to triple the size of one of his two pool houses. Is it really so cramped in there?

 

THE NEWS IN SONG: What do I know? Coldplay's "Spies," tinyurl.com/cpspies

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: TERENCE MURPHY

He's already the only active military judge presiding over a New York veterans treatment court. But come next month, Nassau District Judge Terence Murphy will trade his robe for camos, report for active duty and deploy eventually to Kuwait. By the time he's home, the 57-year-old Army judge advocate general will have a whole new understanding of the issues returning vets face. Forward march, sir.Email Ellis@henican.com

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