The Espionage Act of 1917

Yes dear it is time for a little history since many are as ignorant about history as they are about civics.

For over 100 years a full century the US has had espionage law on the books….and it has been used in many and various ways…

Let’s look at the Act….

The Espionage Act of 1917, passed by Congress two months after the United States declared war against Germany in World War I, made it a federal crime for any person to interfere with or attempt to undermine the U.S. armed forces during a war, or to in any way assist the war efforts of the nation’s enemies. Under the terms of the act, signed into law on June 15, 1917, by President Woodrow Wilson, persons convicted of such acts could be subject to fines of $10,000 and 20 years in prison. Under one still-applicable provision of the act, anyone found guilty of giving information to the enemy during wartime may be sentenced to death. The law also authorizes the removal of material considered “treasonable or seditious” from the U.S. mail.

Key Takeaways: Espionage Act of 1917

  • The Espionage Act of 1917 makes it a crime to interfere with or attempt to undermine or interfere with the efforts of the U.S. armed forces during a war, or to in any way assist the war efforts of the nation’s enemies. 
  • The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed by Congress on June 15, 1917, two months after the United States entered World War I. 
  • While The Espionage Act of 1917 limited Americans’ First Amendment Rights, it was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States. 
  • Potential punishments for violations of the Espionage Act of 1917 range from fines of $10,000 and 20 years in prison to the death penalty.

One hundred years ago, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Espionage Act into law, and since then it has been used to criminalize the disclosure of national defense and classified information.

Further reading…..

I bring up this bit of history because of the this current administration is dealing with “whistle blowers”….they are being persecuted and prosecuted…..

But in the House a reform bill to the Espionage Act is being offered……

Legislation proposed in Congress would amend the United States Espionage Act and create a public interest defense for those prosecuted under the law.

“‘A defendant charged with an offense under section 793 or 798 [in the U.S. legal code] shall be permitted to testify about their purpose for engaging in the prohibited conduct,” according to a draft of the bill Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard introduced.

Such a reform would make it possible for whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, Reality Winner, Terry Albury, and Daniel Hale to inform the public why they disclosed information without authorization to the press.

The legislation called the Protect Brave Whistleblowers Act is supported by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

I was around for the Pentagon Papers and the trial of Ellsberg for their release….I have always felt the American people should not be put in the dark by the government….that is what the USSR did and what China still does.  This country is better than that….that is until we elected that dude on the Golden Throne in DC.

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

6 thoughts on “The Espionage Act of 1917

  1. There is no doubt that the Trump administration is running helter skelter on some kind of campaign to erase every facet of American Life as it has been known since the founding. Right now, they are trying to “Scortch The Earth” by deregulating as many things as they can before the election in November .. because some of them have become afraid they are going to lose and they want to leave the government in as bad a shape as possible for the next president (should it not be Trump) so little things like “Espionage” are already past their comprehension and I am sure they will screw that legislation up like they do everything else. (John Liming)

  2. Was Snowden ‘espionage’? Or was he just opening the eyes of the public to the truth? Journalism, or espionage? Not a difficult choice.
    Best wishes, Pete.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.