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Obama’s efforts to control leaks ‘the most aggressive since Nixon’, report finds

Under Obama, the Espionage Act has been used to mount felony prosecutions against six government employees and two contractors. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Under Obama, the Espionage Act has been used to mount felony prosecutions against six government employees and two contractors. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Administration’s tactics, which include using Espionage Act to pursue leakers, have had chilling effect on accountability – study

Karen McVeigh writes:  Barack Obama has pursued the most aggressive “war on leaks” since the Nixon administration, according to a report published on Thursday that says the administration’s attempts to control the flow of information is hampering the ability of journalists to do their jobs.

The author of the study, the former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, says the administration’s actions have severely hindered the release of information that could be used to hold it to account.

Downie, an editor during the Post’s investigations of Watergate, acknowledged that Obama had inherited a culture of secrecy that had built up since 9/11. But despite promising to be more open, Obama had become “more aggressive”, stepping up the Espionage Act to pursue those accused of leaking classified information. Read the rest of this entry »

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CHILLED: Why reporters fear phones, email, arrange meetings with sources in person, one-on-one

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Many reporters covering national security and government policy in Washington these days are taking precautions to keep their sources from becoming casualties in the Obama administration’s war on leaks. They and their remaining government sources often avoid phone conversations and e-mail exchanges, arranging furtive one-on-one meetings instead.

“We have to think more about when we use cellphones, when we use e-mail and when we need to meet sources in person,” said Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor of the Associated Press. “We need to be more and more aware that government can track our work without talking to our reporters, without letting us know.” Read the rest of this entry »