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I don’t think that’s a generally accepted legal standard. It seems similar to saying that Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning only released information, which the courts can’t remedy. If anything bad should happen due to that leak, then the courts can remedy that in the case of the people who committed those acts.

The government is clearly of the opinion that they can and should prosecute people for leaking information which could cause possible harms.

I’m clearly not a lawyer, but these scenarios seem pretty similar to my untrained eye.

The difference is that their intentional leaking of classified information as people with a security clearance is letter of the law illegal. The difference seems huge and obvious to my untrained eye.

To add to this, their acts were intentional. Yes, you're very right that they were very much illegal acts. However, it needn't be intentionally spilled classified information in order to be illegal. Under certain circumstances, even accidental 'spillage' is a felony. Negligent 'spillage' is also very much a felony.

I've been through quite a bit of training and held my clearance for years. I was a victim of the OPM hack. Well, I guess I still am a victim. Mens rea doesn't really apply when handling classified material/data. If it is accidental AND you report it properly, it's not jail - you are so losing your job, however. You also lose your clearance. It has been a while, but I'm pretty sure you lose it forever.

The State prosecuting someone for a crime is not the same thing as a private individual suing another individual for a tort. Basically everything is different: different rules of procedure, different rules of evidence, different standard of proof required, etc. etc.

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