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CPJ Report: the Obama Administration and Press Freedoms 289

dryriver writes "Committee To Protect Journalists reports: U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists. In the Obama administration's Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press. Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records. An 'Insider Threat Program' being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues. 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."
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CPJ Report: the Obama Administration and Press Freedoms

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  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @08:11AM (#45100187) Homepage Journal

    Even South Park made fun of England's libel courts which are absurdly tilted in favor of whomever has the money and the power. Perhaps Obama can start suing them all there. Why not? It's not as if anyone cares whether we live in a tyranny or not.

    • by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:03AM (#45100455)

      In the Good Old Days whistleblower's leaking "illegally" in the public interest on even greater illegal activities like systematic corruption, war crimes, cover-ups etc were actually afforded some protection (Daniel Ellsberg as one example). Journalists reporting on the whistleblower material were also afforded some protection. Today in the first world there appears to be an all out assault on both reporting and whistleblowing no matter how egregious the crime they are bringing to the publics attention. Libel laws strengthened and extended laws and new ones are being passed like the US Shield law [] - designed to shield the corrupt from exposure and outlaw any media organization that is not complicit from doing investigative reporting.

      Hard not to come to the conclusion that those institutions behind the prosecution of journalists and whistleblowers are wholly and irrecoverably corrupted. Guess that is what happens when the population votes in a two headed single party dedicated to serving power and moneydecade after decade...

      • by Xicor ( 2738029 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:15AM (#45100539)
        you can blame the people who refuse to vote for a third party because "they cant win"... if people actually voted with their brains and voted for who they ACTUALLY want in power, we might get a libertarian president.
        • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

          "Don't Blame me, I voted for Kodos!!!"

          - Homer Simpson

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I don't vote libertarian because I don't want my neighbor having a pet panther in their back yard.

          • by Xicor ( 2738029 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @10:04AM (#45100963)
            well, your only options are to stick with the two parties who are both the exact same thing and will destroy your rights, or to vote for a third party. is there any reason why you dont want your neighbor to have a panther? panthers are much quieter than dogs.
            • by judoguy ( 534886 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:02PM (#45102129) Homepage
              I will never understand the bizarre interpretation of libertarianism with anarchy! Why do statists always scream that if ANY liberty is allowed we will go all Mad Max? Oh, that's right, they're statists and ANY individual freedom/responsibility threatens the state.

              When I talk about liberty, it's not anarchy. I would just like to see the discussion moved to how little government do we need to live and work together. The current discussion, in the US at least, is always about how much government can we have without fomenting an armed rebellion. How much government control of healthcare, communications, income, etc.

              Being opposed to a totalitarian state doesn't presume chaos, unless you're a totalitarian statist which a depressing number of people are. They take umbrage at that description of course and claim they just want to help people. because, you know, if people were allowed to make important decisions, they'd fuck up. Only a vast bureaucracy has the compassion and wisdom to run other peoples lives.

              Yes people do fuck up their lives sometimes. God knows I've made bad decisions and will make more. That's called living. And Learning. And not being eternally cast in the role as a child who must always protected by the all knowing state.

        • by evilRhino ( 638506 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @10:57AM (#45101513)
          In our current system, a third party will only tilt the favor against the mainstream party that is the exact opposite politically. A liberal third party would split the vote with the Democrats and put a Republican in power. The modern tea party has the better successful model. You don't enter the general election, you have to work through an existing party and come up in the primary.
  • You asked for this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @08:15AM (#45100199)

    Slashdot (/.) overwhelming supported Barak Obama's runs for President.
    Slashdotters were warned that Senator Obama would do "bad things like this" if elected. (In the general news/media arena and here on Slashdot.)
    Now the blessed, Slashdot Messiah is screwing you over.
    Regrettably, it is a bittersweet truth--the sweet is that President Obama is screwing his devotees and followers of his Progressive (Leftist) Way and the better is that he is screwing everyone with his Royal Presidency.

    • Yeah, and conservatives supported Bush, even after he started 2 wars.
      Everybody fucks up sometime, conservs and libs fucked up back-to-back.

      • Bush did not start or go looking for the Afghan war. Try again.

    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @08:47AM (#45100369)

      You know what would be nice? Being able to have a grown-up discussion about issues like TFA without being distracted by whatever bullshit the GOP is using rise the hackles of their Tea Party base this week (death panels? Benghazi? Who can even keep track?). The signal-to-noise ratio is really low when a conversation about press freedoms needs to be overpowered by "No, really, defaulting on national debts would be Bad, you fucking morons."

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @08:49AM (#45100383)

        That would be nice. Unfortunately, the American electorate no longer resembles "grown-up discussion", which is why our political system is so fucked right now.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Megane ( 129182 )
          Two words: Term limits. No way should someone be a senator for multiple decades, if only to keep them from "going native" to the DC culture. Of course the very people who need the term limits are the ones who would have to vote it in, so it's not likely to happen.
    • How come when classified information is leaked under a republicrat president it is glorified but if classified (embarrassing) information is leaked under a "liberal" president they get the jumper cables out?
    • Of course we supported him. Did you see the other guy?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Slashdotters were warned that Senator Obama would do "bad things like this" if elected.

      The problem is that no one better ever had a chance of making it through the primaries. It's not like there was a better viable alternative.

      President Obama is screwing his devotees and followers of his Progressive (Leftist) Way

      Everywhere in the wide world, Obama is a conservative moderate right. US does not have a "Left" side.

      • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

        I seem to recall the candidacy of one Hillary Clinton.

        And as for the rest of the world's political spectrum, the US poltical spectrum is simply different. It probably has something to do with the Metric system (grin)

    • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:21AM (#45100595) Homepage
      Actually it's more funny that he only got there because the press had such a hard-on crush for him. ("Sort of a god", "had to step down" to the White House, etc.) Now that he's not living up to their fan-fiction dreams of him, they're not happy.
    • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @10:13AM (#45101027) Homepage
      You know, I must've missed that.

      I have no recollection of people complaining that Senator Obama would end up being a conservative right wing leader hell bent on attacking our civil liberties at home while exporting undeclared warfare worldwide.

      I do remember plenty of idiots rambling about how he is a foreign born Muslim communist. None of those claims panned out, however.

      So yes, Obama supporters were misled. They were perhaps naive to think that a candidate supported by one of the two established parties could possibly be a departure from business as usual. However wrong Obama supporters were in their opinion of Obama, the detractors were doubly wrong. None of you asshats was claiming that Obama was a closet conservative, so don't try to spin it like that's what you were saying all along.
    • People that cry over the Republicans last two losses need to get their head out of their ass. The party may have good financial ideas (which is certainly debatable) but most of us can't get past their 20th century social policies long enough to even have that discussion.

      Stop bringing your little book of fairy tales into every discussion and then maybe we'll talk. Until then I think I'll keep voting for the adults that aren't afraid of brown people or the big bad gays.
    • Absolutely right.

      Makes the old complaints about the Patriot Act seem almost quaint, doesn't it?

      SlashCrowd most definitely asked for this. Couldn't wait. Stick it to all those old white dudes! (Which since this is Slashdot, most of us are, but we like to imagine we aren't.)

      The Achilles' heel of the tech weenie (myself included) is to imagine that since you are smart about something, you must be smart about everything.

  • Transparency (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blach ( 25515 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @08:17AM (#45100211)
    "This is the most transparent administration in history." --Barack Obama []
    • If you count just the amount of information released, maybe. But the people in this administration are control freaks when it comes to deciding which information gets released, and they lash out when someone releases information against their wishes. Also transparency in itself is not enough: for example campaign contributions are public, but they are still a corrupting influence.

  • Hope and Change (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How's it working for you these days? There were plenty of people who were screaming that this stuff would be happening. Nobody listened. Maybe next time you will, but I doubt it. The American public is too busy watching American Idol to give a crap about anything important anymore.

  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise.
    Fallen short? Is that's what it's called when it's the most closed administration in recent history? Fallen short? Give me a break!
    Today we are the police state that the likes of Obama told us we were under Bush. People really need to wake up.
    Oh, but yeah, I know... it's Apple and the "XBone" that we need to worry about, right?

  • Bread and circuses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @08:37AM (#45100313)

    There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

  • Reporters didn't have access to classified documents in the Good Old Days either. And anyone caught leaking papers to the Soviet Union during the Cold War was in serious, serious trouble.

    It's probably a lot easier to try someone under the Espionage Act today since you can deliver a large volume of information electronically and odds are there will be some electronic fingerprint on it pointing back to the leaker unless they're fully aware of all the security precautions. Fifty years ago, if you leaked th
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @08:44AM (#45100339) Homepage
    Once the structure falls apart, once the cognitive dissonance between what we say and what we do becomes so indefensible, then we have no choice but to persecute dissent and stifle protest.
    the government surveillance, crackdown on leaks, and persecution of journalists just shows how desparate america is to maintain the illusion of the land of the free and home of the brave. in reality we kill our own citizens, run torture camps, kidnap people we consider enemies, and maintain the highest incarceration rate in the world. we topple foreign governments, install dictators, sabotage existing governments attempts at independence and autonomy, and detain indefinitely without trial anyone we see fit. We had an entire slew of protests across the country called Occupy that ended with nothing but arrests and more surveillance. Nothing changed and nothing will.

    the fastest way to stop the leaks and the leakers is to stop pandering to a minority constituency of plutocrats while paying lipservice to real americans, and get on with some real change. Arrest corrupt wall street bankers, shut down guantanamo, and for fuck sake stop sticking your dick in the middle east every six months for a boost in the opinion polls leading up to an election.
  • If we were watched over by scrupulous eunuch atheist priests who lived in a walled off commune and never spoke to another soul wouldn't mind, but we are watched by public servants. The value of mass surveillance data inevitably means it will be abused. []
    • I reject your premise. Good people do not seek power in the first place.

      That's not to say there are no good people with power. But those who have it almost always have it forced upon them by the circumstances of the moment, and when the moment has passed, they try to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

  • More examples (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:03AM (#45100463)

    * Hushing up Fast 'n Furious debacle by executive privilege.
    * Gagging Benghazi witnesses, even forbidding them from testifying to Congress.
    * Blaming Benghazi on a stupid YouTube video for weeks (right before the election -- we have to make the attack seem "spontaneous" so it looks our policies have ended terrorism), knowing full well that it's a lie.

    I could go on all day, but I do have to actually work. Most of these things (all three of the cases I mentioned) happened before His reelection, so it was completely obvious to those of us who aren't idiots what kind of president this guy was/is. Now, time to wait for said idiots to try to deflect the issue by talking about how bad Republicans are (happens every time, as if these turds get their marching orders from On High; so predictable).

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:09AM (#45100499)

    Obama got the Nobel prize, not the Sakharov prize.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:51AM (#45100839) Journal

    ...this is what happens when you have a President that makes your leg tingle.

    Seriously, though, the press has ALWAYS done a better job covering Republican presidents, as their adversarial role is abundantly clear. Largely, Democratic presidents who ostensibly have the shared outlook, overall sympathies, if not outright vote of reporters (, have been covered much more gently and with (dare I call it) an almost collaborationist approach.

    As politics have become more strident and divisive, it seems like the press itself has found itself more stridently taking a side, with Fox on the Right, and everyone else on the Left.

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @10:27AM (#45101151)
    Whaaaat? You say a democrat came into office and made government bigger and more aggressive? That's simply absurd! How unprecedented!
  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <> on Friday October 11, 2013 @10:30AM (#45101181) Homepage

    How many people voted for Obama believing that he wouldn't use the executive powers expanded by the previous administration? How many were dumb enough to believe he'd actually try to roll them back?

    Worse yet, how many are OK with their guy abusing his new authority?

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by geek ( 5680 )

      How many people voted for Obama believing that he wouldn't use the executive powers expanded by the previous administration? How many were dumb enough to believe he'd actually try to roll them back?

      Worse yet, how many are OK with their guy abusing his new authority?

      According to the latest gallup poll 37% are just dandy with what Obama is doing. You can thank the Liberal press for being his lapdog while he bends them over without a reach-around.

      The sad part is, if Obama ran for a 3rd term he would still win because he gets 98% of the Black vote, 99% of the Democrat vote and 85% of the women's vote. Once amnesty passes he'll also get 90% of the Hispanic vote. Nevermind that black unemployment is higher than its ever been, that the real war on women is being waged by Dem

  • The Obama administration is paranoid obsessive about controlling the press and spouting half-truths, and career journalists have branded Obama as the least accessable president they have ever encountered.

    Sure they like to flout that Obama has conducted more interviews than any president before him. But Obama intentionally selects outlets where he can evade scrutiny. His "interviews" have largely been on entertainment shows. When preparing for the precious few press interviews, Obama selects journalist
  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:23PM (#45102367) Homepage Journal

    then you should have nothing to hide. That they make such big efforts to actively hide everything (even to the point of rerouting the president of Bolivia plane just for suspecting that Snowden may be there) means that they did, and probably keep doing, something very wrong. And it must be far bigger than anything we know they are doing (not mass snooping or subverting internet security protocols, not favoring big corporations, no giving chemical weapons to syrian rebels to blame the government, etc), and at difference of the current situation, should be something that if disclosed it really would have most of the population very upset.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982