Press freedom threatened by the Obama administration

Glenn Greenwald writes:

During the Bush era, I frequently wrote about escalating attacks by the U.S. Government on press freedoms. The Bush DOJ vowed to prosecute whistleblowers while steadfastly refusing to do the same for the high-level criminals they exposed. Alberto Gonzales openly threatened that the DOJ could prosecute editors and reporters of The New York Times for revealing the illegal NSA spying program. CIA Director Porter Goss vowed to subpoena journalists who publish classified information in order to compel them to disclose their sources or go to prison.

And, worst of all, Bush officials sought for the first time in American history to obtain an espionage conviction — under the Espionage Act of 1917 — against non-government-employees who had received and disseminated classified information. About that case — brought against two AIPAC officials who had passed classified information they received from a Pentagon official to the Government of Israel (the Pentagon official pled guilty) — I wrote about “the Bush Administration’s broader, unprecedented assault on a free press of which the AIPAC prosecution is but a part,” and argued that “the Bush Administration is seeking to criminalize the very act which defines what an investigative journalist does and has always done in America.” The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus reported at the time, quoting a legal expert, that “administration officials ‘want this case as a precedent so they can have it in their arsenal’ and added: ‘This is a weapon that can be turned against the media’.” After a series of adverse judicial rulings against the Government, the DOJ finally abandoned that AIPAC prosecution.

Amazingly, the Obama administration is surpassing its predecessor when it comes to assaults on whistle-blowing and a free press. As Politico’s Josh Gerstein reported, “President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has taken a hard line against leakers. . . .’They’re going after this at every opportunity and with unmatched vigor,’ said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.” The New York Times similarly documented: “the Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks.” The Obama DOJ has launched nothing less than a full-on war against whistleblowers; its magnanimous “Look Forward, Not Backward” decree used to shield high-level Bush criminals from investigations is manifestly tossed to the side when it comes to those who reveal such criminality. And they even revitalized an abandoned Bush-era subpoena issued to The New York Times‘ James Risen, demanding that he disclose his source for an article in which he revealed an embarrassingly botched attempt to infiltrate and sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

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4 thoughts on “Press freedom threatened by the Obama administration

  1. Vince J.

    Check this article

    “What Bernie Said, Part I” by William Riuvers Pitt at

    Great article!

  2. Norman

    Obviously the “O” administration is on a tear to protect the criminal element within. I thought that there were laws against Government officials acting in the interests of Foreign Governments? Now, wouldn’t that include pandering to the Israeli Government too? The Senate just shot down the Whistle blower act, so as to try & convict Wikileaks boss here in the U.S. Considering that there are approximately 2,500,000 individuals, both in Government & private contractors who are authorized to view such messages, then it stands to reason, a secret can’t be kept. Goodness gracious sakes alive. Can’t wait until someone leaks the Bush/Cheney tapes and the “O” tapes. The sooner, the better.

  3. seamus o'bannion

    You’re confusing open aggression with freedom of the press. For Freedom of the Press to be threatened, it must first exist. Your article, however, does point out very clearly the “bi-partisanship” of the US Government when it comes to defending the real powers that the government exists to serve. Trust me, no matter what happens, the five media giants will emerge unscathed. They aren’t threatened at all. The NY Times will continue to print “all the news that’s fit to print,” while withholding the “unfit.”

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