Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Committee to Protect Journalists issues scathing report on Obama administration/ Guardian

Glenn Greenwald (who left the Guardian to start a new online news service Nov 1) has long had a unique ability to pile on the pithy quotes.  This time he outdid himself, simply by quoting from an amazing report written for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) by Leonard Downie Jr., former Washington Post executive editor.  Here is the CPJ's synopsis. Here are a few of the zingers:

*  James Goodale, the former general counsel of the New York Times during its epic fights with the Nixon administration, recently observed that "President Obama wants to criminalize the reporting of national security information" and added: "President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom."

*  Six government employees, plus two contractors including Edward Snowden, have been subjects of felony criminal prosecutions since 2009 under the 1917 Espionage Act, accused of leaking classified information to the press—compared with a total of three such prosecutions in all previous U.S. administrations. Still more criminal investigations into leaks are under way. Reporters' phone logs and e-mails were secretly subpoenaed and seized by the Justice Department in two of the investigations, and a Fox News reporter was accused in an affidavit for one of those subpoenas of being 'an aider, abettor and/or conspirator' of an indicted leak defendant, exposing him to possible prosecution for doing his job as a journalist. In another leak case, a New York Times reporter has been ordered to testify against a defendant or go to jail."

*  New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane was quoted by the Report on Press Freedoms as saying that sources are "scared to death."

*  New York Times reporter David Sanger said that "this is the most closed, control freak administration I've ever covered."

*  New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote that "it's turning out to be the administration of unprecedented secrecy and unprecedented attacks on a free press."

*  'I worry now about calling somebody because the contact can be found out through a check of phone records or e-mails,' said veteran national security journalist R. Jeffrey Smith of the Center for Public Integrity, an influential nonprofit government accountability news organization in Washington. 'It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for the government to monitor those contacts,' he said."

The report prefaces its recommendations with the following statement:
CPJ is disturbed by the pattern of actions by the Obama administration that have chilled the flow of information on issues of great public interest, including matters of national security. The administration's war on leaks to the press through the use of secret subpoenas against news organizations, its assertion through prosecution that leaking classified documents to the press is espionage or aiding the enemy, and its increased limitations on access to information that is in the public interest -- all thwart a free and open discussion necessary to a democracy.

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