Senator Wyden could have spoken out before Snowden..Submitted by Puma for Life on Sun, 08/04/2013 - 17:45
An excellent article which explains that Senator Wyden could have spoken out.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees that elected representatives "shall not be questioned in any other Place … for any Speech or Debate in either House." In other words, they cannot be prosecuted for reading classified material into the public record -- and it is up to them, and them alone, to decide what is worth talking about.
This principle has deep roots. During the run-up to the English Civil War, members of the House of Commons were imprisoned in the Tower of London for as long as 11 years between 1629 and 1640. Their offense: insisting on their right to debate central questions of religious freedom, despite King Charles I's claim that these issues lay within his royal prerogative. The freedom of parliamentary debate was therefore an important principle of the Glorious Revolution, leading to its codification in the epochal Bill of Rights of 1689. This provision was the model for the American founders' constitutional text.
In the United States, congressional freedom of speech was last put to the test during the Pentagon Papers affair at the time of the Vietnam War. Invoking the "speech or debate clause," Daniel Ellsberg -- with whom Snowden has been compared -- approached members of Congress and tried to persuade them to submit the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record. Only after they refused did he leak them to the New York Times and Washington Post. When Richard Nixon's administration obtained injunctions in the lower courts, Ellsberg returned to Congress with more success. With the decision still pending before the Supreme Court, Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) placed 4,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers into the record at a committee hearing. Even if the court had failed to protect the newspapers, Gravel's action ensured that the truth would come out. A year later, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Gravel's right to publish documents labeled "Top-Secret: Sensitive" under the speech or debate clause.