NY Times reporter calls Obama administration the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation

Recent reports from the Associated Press and Cause of Action have explained in great detail that President Barack Obama hasn’t come close to living up to promises of greater transparency, a result of the White House’s effort to control information requested by the press that could prove to be a political headache or embarrassing.

The administration’s obsession of controlling of information isn’t limited to what documents are released. It also extends to how the administration tries to control the press, as James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times, recently explained at a conference (emphasis added):

New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order that he testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking information to him, opened the conference earlier by saying the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished.”

The administration’s aggressive prosecutions have created “a de facto Official Secrets Act,” Risen said, and the media has been “too timid” in responding.

StopWatching.Us: Celebrities, activists demand the NSA end surveillance


The StopWatching.Us coalition released a new video in advance of its planned rally this weekend in Washington explaining the threats that the NSA’s unprecedented spying and secrecy represents to Americans’ personal privacy and to our democracy.

The video features comments from several activists, legal experts, whistleblowers, and celebrities — including John Cusak, Wil Wheaton, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Oliver Stone — all of whom note that the NSA is collecting data of Americans phone callsInternet recordsemails, and even their social media connections without any cause. The video also compares the NSA’s secrecy to that of the Nixon Administration:

Your Secrets Are Not Safe with the Government

government secrets

During a recent show, Chris Hayes, host of All In with Chris Hayes, made some very important points worthy of sharing here about government secrecy and the government’s inability to keep secrets:

As of the end of 2011, there were 1.4 million people with top secret security clearance […] just one of the 1.4 million people is on trial for leaking a heck of a lot of secrets. Bradley Manning is the 25-year-old soldier accused of turning over files to Wikileaks including reports from Afghanistan and air strikes to killed civilians. His trial got under way and he faces prison. He is viewed as a hero and others see him as a villain and a traitor. What he is is proof that the government cannot keep secrets. If 1.4 million people had access, that access is not a secret in any real way.

Is this Transparency? Labor Dept. Wanted $1 Million to Turnover E-Mails

Obama and transparency

In a memo to department and agency heads posted on the White House website, President Barack Obama said that his administration is “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government” and noted that “[o]penness will strengthen our democracy.” But, as has too often been the case with this administration, the rhetoric hasn’t lived up to reality.

For an administration that was supposed to be the most transparent in history, it certainly does go to great lengths to hide what its doing. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been embroiled in the Climategate scandal, which revolved around former agency administrator Lisa Jackson’s use of private e-mail to conduct government business.

Another example of this pernicious secrecy emerged this week. The Associated Press tried to obtain e-mails from the Labor Department via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In what was a clear attempt to discourage the news agency from obtaining the information, the Labor Department tried to charge the AP more than $1 million (emphasis mine):

Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

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