Espionage Act (1917)

Fri Jun 15, 1917

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Image: A mugshot of Eugene V. Debs with his prisoner number in 1920. He was imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for speaking out against the draft during World War I. [npr.org]


The Espionage Act, passed on this day in 1917, is a federal U.S. law which has been used to suppress labor and political activism from American dissidents such as Eugene V. Debs, Emma Goldman, Daniel Ellsberg, and Edward Snowden.

Within a month of the law’s passing, the Department of Justice used it as a justification to raid Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) headquarters, seizing property and arresting over one hundred members on various charges.

Among those charged with offenses under the Act are Victor L. Berger, Eugene V. Debs, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden.

A 2015 study by the PEN American Center found that almost all of the non-government representatives they interviewed, including activists, lawyers, journalists and whistleblowers, “thought the Espionage Act had been used inappropriately in leak cases that have a public interest component.”

PEN wrote “experts described it as ‘too blunt an instrument,’ ‘aggressive, broad and suppressive,’ a ‘tool of intimidation,’ ‘chilling of free speech,’ and a ‘poor vehicle for prosecuting leakers and whistleblowers.’”


  • PP_GIRL_@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    Just throwing it out there that any sitting POTUS could pardon Edward Snowden for any and all federal offenses but has chosen not to.

      • PP_GIRL_@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        But some six-figure-salaried IT desk jockey told me that “both sides” was a dogwhistle that means I hate gays and women?

        • jimmydoreisalefty@lemmy.world
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          1 month ago

          Yeah, working class people keep falling for the propagada and status quo talking points.

          Divide and conquer, culture wars are just another tactic used, the status quo has done a really good job at keeping us infighting and divided.

          We must continue to be willing to have discussions with people IRL and in social media, so as to expose diverse ideas not seen anywhere else.

      • Dkarma@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        They won’t because it will encourage others to steal government secrets, moral or otherwise.

        Get a brain you fucking opossums.

        • jimmydoreisalefty@lemmy.world
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          1 month ago

          Well, if you report the wrong doings of the US military to your the higher up, nothing happens, It is swept under the rug, like many of our war crimes.

          It is okay to be emotional on subjects you feel strongly about, but remember that communities have rules.

          This one having, a certain rule:

          Be polite.