Sen. Joe Lieberman has said that the federal government has the right to shut down the whistleblowing website that released thousands of secret US documents and now the Connecticut senator has indicated that media outlets like The New York Times may be in danger too.
Following the release of thousands of documents by government watchdog WikiLeaks, Lieberman told the Times that he wanted to use "all legal means" against the website.
On Tuesday, the independent senator told Fox News' Jenna Lee that the First Amendment may not even protect mainstream media outlets that publish documents obtained by WikiLeaks.
"Julian Assange has written an editorial that points out or characterizes his organization as an underdog in the media world," Lee noted. "He's saying he's a journalist, and he's just providing information out there for the world citizens to see. He mentions that organizations like The New York Times have published his information which you're classifying as state secret. So, are other media outlets that have posted what WikiLeaks has put out there also culpable in this and could be charged with something?"
"I have said that I believe the question you're raising is a serious legal question that has to be answered," Lieberman replied.
"In other words, this is very sensitive stuff because it gets into the America's First Amendment. But if you go from the initial crime, Private Manning charged with the crime of stealing these classified documents, he gives them to WikiLeaks, I certainly believe that that's a -- WikiLeaks has violated the espionage act," he said.
"But then what about the news organizations, including the Times, that accepted it and distributed it? I know they say they deleted some of it, but I'm not here to make a final judgment on that," Lieberman continued.
"But to me New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship. And whether they've committed a crime, I think that bears very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department," he added.
Lieberman's position seems to be a slight change from last week, when he said the Times should not be prosecuted.
"I don't know if you can prosecute the Times under existing Supreme Court decisions," he told Fox Business News' Don Imus.
"But I'll tell you this, I wish the Times, just as an act of citizenship had said, 'No, we're not going to publish this stuff because it's going to do the country damage,'" he said
"You know, The New York Times, afterall, is The New York Times with all its stature and I wish this stuff had appeared somewhere else. I wouldn't be for prosecuting the Times, but I would say I wish they had shown better citizenship."