The Obama administration has dragged singing bad boy Justin Bieber into its defense of secretly looking into who reporters like Fox News' James Rosen talk to inside the federal government to get top secret leaks.
An anonymous national security official penned a column on the Brookings Institution blog Lawfare suggesting that when a reporter asks an official to reveal secrets for a story, it's akin to hiring a thief to break into Bieber's home to steal his diaries.
"Let's look at an analogy. If a reporter finds Justin Bieber's private diary on the street and publishes it, that's journalism (of a sort). But if she pays someone to break into Bieber's house to steal the diary, hasn't she has aided and abetted, or conspired in, a crime, even if her intent is to get material to publish? That's exactly what the government says happened here -- a reporter soliciting, and aiding and abetting criminal activity," wrote the Obama official.
In the Rosen case, former State Department worker Stephen Jin-Woo Kim is accused of violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking classified information in 2009 that North Korea was likely to respond to U.N. sanctions with more nuclear tests.
The Obama official slammed Rosen, saying "he wasn't someone to whom a whistleblower came to disclose information; he was actively asking people to violate the law, and enabling them to do so. Remember, there's no doubt that -- assuming Mr. Kim is the guilty party -- he violated the law if he disclosed properly classified information to a reporter."
The official added: "This was a damaging leak and the government had every right to investigate to try to find the person who leaked it, and certainly there is a strong circumstantial case that they found him in this case. The fact that the First Amendment affords protection to the publication of truthful information doesn't give reporters license to do anything they want to get that information."