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.