Peter King's all wet on fixing security leaks

Rep. Peter King.

Rep. Peter King. (Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile)

Ellis Henican

Newsday columnist Ellis Henican Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a

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I sure hope Peter King didn't mean me.

The voluble South Shore Republican, who used to chair the House Committee on Homeland Security, clearly hasn't lost his bluster since passing on his beloved gavel.

As civil libertarians and terror hawks debate the National Security Agency phone-data dragnet, King has found his own pet target. No, not the former government contractor accused of leaking the massive spy program. News reporters who pass along such leaks.

Speaking on CNN, King said some journalists who report classified information should be criminally prosecuted. "If they willingly knew that this was classified information," he told Anderson Cooper, "I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude."

That puts Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald right in King's bull's-eye. Next time, it could be any of us. And why should the prison cells be reserved for the journo who first reports classified leaks? What about the TV anchors who repeat the information? What about the commentators who then spout off?

No journalist has ever been successfully prosecuted for publishing classified material. But Fox News reporter James Rosen recently found his way into the crosshairs for reporting secrets from a government source.

And isn't that more or less what all good reporters seek to do every day? Keeping the people informed, it used to be called.

TOP SECRET

1. Things that make us look bad.

2. Things they don't need to know.

3. Things that could easily be misinterpreted.

4. Things that might please our enemies.

5. Things everyone will discover eventually.

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Has the breakout popularity of History Channel's "Pawn Stars" brought lasting glam to the cash-for-trash biz? Not so you'd notice in North Merrick, where 400 locals have already signed a petition to keep Estate Pawn Brokers out of 1391 Jerusalem Ave . . . Who knew that this summer's big restaurant buzz in Massapequa would be a Dairy Queen? After a 40-year LI-DQ drought, opening day delivered a Blizzard of fans to Sunrise Highway . . . What if they just changed the name to Long Island MacArthur INTERNATIONAL Airport? Would that make ISP seem less dinky and maybe retain the current carriers? . . . Will the new School Active Violence Emergency hotline actually SAVE lives after Newtown? . . . Does Seena International, a Hauppauge apparel company, really expect to trademark the name Ditch Plains? How do Montauk beachgoers feel about that? . . . When did "workforce housing" become the official term for apartments on Long Island? Maybe someone at Suffolk's Department of Economic Development and Workforce Housing can explain . . . Surf clam boats from Bellport's Bay Head Inc. have been harvesting where? Near the Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant in West Babylon? That's what state EnCon agents said, before adding, "Yuk!" . . . Smoking alcohol -- two nasty habits in one? The North Shore-LIJ Health Blog says some young thrill-seekers will try almost anything, including heating up booze and inhaling the fumes.

THE NEWS IN SONG: They wouldn't print it if it wasn't true: Joe Jackson's "Sunday Papers," tinyurl.com/sunpaps

LONG ISLANDERS OF THE WEEK: EAGLES AT LITTLE NECK RUN

Shhhh. Let me say this in a whisper. Two bald eagles are nesting along Little Neck Run, a tiny trickle that juts off the Carmans River at the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley. The run's been closed for six weeks now so no one will disturb the nest. But it's opening again soon. These two just might be the first pair of bald eagles in the history of the refuge ever to nest. So keep your voice down -- OK? -- and keep your distance.

Email ellis@henican.com
Follow on Twitter @henican

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