Alan Dershowitz on Piers Morgan last night, discussing Glenn Greenwald’s publication of classified leaks provided by Edward Snowden:

“Well, it doesn’t border on criminality – it’s right in the heartland of criminality. The statute itself, does punish the publication of classified material, if you know that it’s classified,” explained the guest. “Greenwald – in my view – clearly has committed a felony.”

Continuing his assessment of the reporter, Dershowitz held little back:

“Greenwald’s a total phony. He is anti-American, he loves tyrannical regimes, and he did this because he hates America. This had nothing to do with publicizing information.”

The same Alan Dershowitz discussing Larry Franklin’s conviction for leaking classified information to AIPAC, seven years prior:

In Franklin’s case, as in the cases of Weissman and Rosen, Justice Department prosecutors decided to indict the men under clauses of the Espionage Act — a law that has, never previously been invoked. As Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz notes, it is not even clear if the statute, so long ignored, actually remains law. In his words, “It is a well-established norm in the US. that when a law is not enforced for many years, it ceases to be considered law.” The decision to prosecute Franklin, Rosen and Weissman under the articles of the Espionage Act, Dershowitz attests, “is the worst case of selective prosecution I have seen in 42 years of legal practice.” He argues: “If every administration official who did what Franklin did i.e. leak classified information to an ally for the purpose of influencing domestic American policy — were prosecuted as he has been, there would be more government officials in prison than at the State Department, the Defense Department or the White House.”

The irony here, of course, is that Snowden made his disclosures public, while Franklin made his disclosures to agents of the U.S.’s “No. 1 counterintelligence threat.” Yet somehow the former is espionage while the latter is not?

It’s a rare occasion when I find myself in agreement with political conservatives, but Dershowitz’s hypocrisy is a perfect example of the double standard explicated by Kevin Williamson in an excellent column in the National Review:

What is worrisome to me is the double standard we all seem to have accepted here. If we are to put people in prison for violating our classified-information laws, then we have to deal with the fact that official Washington abuses those laws while at the same time being the main violator of them. For example, the Obama administration is pretty clearly leaking classified information to the media when it suits it to do so.


My objection here is not to simple hypocrisy but to the creation of a standard of selective prosecution under which official Washington can use leaks of classified information as a political weapon while at the same time using the prosecution of rival leaks as a political weapon. We are in effect adopting the Nixon rule: When the president does it, it isn’t illegal.

It seems Dershowitz has a rule of his own: “When Israel does it, it isn’t illegal.”