How the Obama administration is strangling press freedom

Whether or not this has been formulated in written policy, it seems clear that the way the Obama administration attempts to control the release of classified information is by trying to exert as much control over those who receive such information as those who disseminate it. The leaker and the recipient are treated as sharing equal responsibility — even though in reality both the power and the responsibility lies in the hands of those government officials who possess security clearances.

The administration draws no distinction between the publication of leaked information and the leak itself — as though classified information is being leaked by the press, when in fact it is being leaked to the press.

The New York Times reports: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday defended the Justice Department’s sweeping seizure of telephone records of Associated Press journalists, describing the article by The A.P. that prompted a criminal investigation as among “the top two or three most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen” in a 35-year career.

“It put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole,” he said in an apparent reference to an article on May 7, 2012, that disclosed the foiling of a terrorist plot by Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to bomb an airliner. “And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action.”

In a statement in response, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, Gary Pruitt, disputed that the publication of the article endangered security.

“We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed,” he said. “Indeed, the White House was preparing to publicly announce that the bomb plot had been foiled.” Mr. Pruitt said the article was important in part because it refuted White House claims that there had been no Qaeda plots around the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “How the Obama administration is strangling press freedom

  1. hquain

    The weirdest thing, for me, is that there’s no rationale emanating from the administration. Back in the glory days of Cheney-Bush we were colorfully beset by evil-doers, and radical measures had to be trumpeted and taken to protect our vital essences. And now? Radio silence from on high.

    This is eerily reminiscent of other major policy initiatives — all others? To this day, no one outside a coterie of hyper-specialists has a sense of what Obamacare consists of, and no one in the government has tried to tell us or sell us. Similarly for the drone assassination program. Similarly for the anti-pot crusade. Similarly for the deportation frenzy. Most odd.

    Instead of being enveloped in a cloud of doctrine, as we were back in the day when the White House was thought to be minutely powerful — a good 5-6 years ago — we’ve entered the era when things happen because they happen: an empty political universe that lacks the notion of principle, even hypocritical.

  2. Paul Woodward

    All true — and one can view this opaque presidency as an indication that there’s no one home, or (as I’m more inclined to) treat it as evidence that Obama feels profoundly threatened by transparency. He acts like a man who was put into the White House — which is not to suggest that he operates under the direction of others but merely that he lacks his own sense of direction. Why did Obama want to become president in the first place, and why does he now still seem so lacking in purpose?

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