9 June 2014, 19:54

Obama's administration aggressively challenges freedom of press

Obama's administration aggressively challenges freedom of press

Barack Obama's administration persecutes more whistle blowers and journalists than his predecessor's, The New York Times reports. In a last year's report, The Washington Post executive director Leonard Downie Jr. claimed that the president's administration was making "the most aggressive attempts" in a fight against information leaks in the press since Richard Nixon's time.

The discussion of the freedom of the press was resumed after the Supreme Court of the United States refused to accept an appeal of The New York Times journalist James Risen who is being forced to be a witness at the trial of James Sterling, an ex-CIA officer.

Sterling is charged with leaking confidential information about sabotage attempts of the Iranian nuclear program to Risen. Risen may be sent to prison for contempt of court.

Obama's administration's sudden aggressiveness is explained by the pressure of the tremendous national security apparatus and the president's fear of the intelligence community's hostility, sources close to the president report.

The CIA and other special services continue to insist that information leaks endanger national security. They may be right from time to time: an article in The Chicago Tribune in 1942 to the effect that Americans had cracked the Japanese cipher code did not result in a catastrophe only because no one read The Chicago Tribune in Tokyo and the Internet did not exist then.

But more often the special services try to conceal unpleasant facts. Thus, in 1971 the authorities spared no effort in trying to prevent the publication of the Pentagon's internal documents about the Vietnamese war. However, the truth still came to light.

Some media representatives say that the problem could be solved with a federal law protecting journalists' right to conceal their sources. But this presents further difficult questions: who has the right to enjoy this protection and how will the Congress make exceptions in the interests of national security?

As for James Risen, he is likely to be barred from Sterling's trial rather than sent to prison, The New York Times points out.

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