Media

Obama Administration Security Official: We Don't Need to Subpoena Reporters Anymore Because We Already Know Who They're Talking To

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You can still find a bold bullet point on Change.gov—a set of promises direct from "the office of the President-elect"—that insists Obama will "protect whistleblowers" within the government.

"We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance," it says. "Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government." 

But as Edward Wasserman points out, you can't find much evidence of this protection in the Obama administration's lengthy record of attacks on individuals who've actually helped get out information about the government during Obama's term. 

Wasserman's blistering indictment of the Obama administration's hyper-aggressive pursuit of government whistleblowers, first delivered at April's Logan Symposium on Investigative Journalism, is worth reading in full. But the following bit is particularly terrifying: 

The public is generally unaware of how essential nominally classified information is to coverage of diplomatic and strategic news. As Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' government secrecy project, put it: "The administration's aggressive pursuit of leaks represents a challenge to the practice of national security reporting, which depends on the availability of unauthorized sources if it is to produce something more than 'authorized' news."

What's behind the administration's fervor isn't clear, but the news media have largely rolled over and yawned. A big reason is that prosecutors aren't hassling reporters as they once did. Thanks to the post-9/11 explosion in government intercepts, electronic surveillance, and data capture of all imaginable kinds — the NSA is estimated to have intercepted 15-20 trillion communications in the past decade — the secrecy police have vast new ways to identify leakers.

So they no longer have to force journalists to expose confidential sources. As a national security representative told Lucy Dalglish, director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, "We're not going to subpoena reporters in the future. We don't need to. We know who you're talking to."

Investigative reporters are supposed to be the ones keeping an eye on the government. Instead, it turns out, it's the other way around. 

Wasserman, who is the Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at Washington & Lee University, frames his argument as a challenge to the press to stand up to the administration's attack on journalistic sourcing. I'd certainly like to see a lot more of that as well. But the bigger problem—the root problem—isn't the press; it's the Obama administration's hypocritical and legally dubious pursuit of the leakers and whistleblowers that President Obama once praised and promised to defend.

Link via Kevin Drum and Glenn Greenwald

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  1. Wasserman, who is the Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at Washington & Lee University, frames his argument as a challenge to the press to stand up to the administration’s attack on journalistic sourcing.

    And they will get right on that, as soon as Obama leaves office. Until then, it takes so many column inches to tell the world how dreamy he is, they don’t have any left over to talk about this.

    1. Is it just me, or was the press actually capable of finding fault with a Democrat prior to Bush the minor? Is my memory just bad? The press’ mouths are latched on to Obama’s cock like a leech – one that never fills.

      1. They have gotten much worse. They were pretty hard on Carter. And it pained them and they hated doing it, but they generally covered the Clinton scandals.

        I have never seen anything like what is going on with Obama. It is the culmination of about 40 years of greater and greater partisanship.

        1. technically, they covered the Clinton scandals, which is to say they usually laced the story with the “we are talking about private behavior here, not policy” whitewash. On rare occasion, you hear vague utterances of malicious truths regarding unemployment and how “the number” is not really the number.

          1. Let’s not forget, the legacy media (Time?) was going to spike the Lewinsky story, but Drudge got ahold of it and basically forced them to cover it.

            Left to their own devices, it would have gotten the same coverage as JFK’s White House shenanigans.

          2. Don’t forget that perjury isn’t a crime if you’re lying about sex.

        2. I think there’s also some kind of black president / white guilt thing going on here that makes the press even more devoted to Our Leader.

          1. I think it is also the gen x and millennial thing too. The baby boomers are getting old. They are not the rank and file anymore. The rank and file are gen xers. And many of the Gen X media have terrible boomer envy. They want to be a part of history. They desperately want Obama to be their Camelot and civil rights movement all rolled into one. So criticizing Obama is delegitimatizing their own life and experience.

            1. And many of the Gen X media have terrible boomer envy.

              Horseshit. Gen X and Boomers are like matter and anti-matter.

              1. Not the Gen Xers who are lefties. Leftie Gen Xers are total boomer wannabes.

            2. And many of the Gen X media have terrible boomer envy.

              I’ve seen plenty of boomer contempt, but envy? I don’t know about that.

              1. I see a lot of it among the more liberal ones. They all wish they were 30 years older and could have been a part of the 60s. What is OWS but a retread late 60s antiwar movement?

                1. What is OWS but a retread late 60s antiwar movement?

                  That’s true, but it wasn’t made up of Gen Xers. The Millennial on the other hand are completely in love with Grandma and Granddad.

                  1. Maybe so HM. Maybe it is more the Millennials.

                    1. I think you were on the right track. I also think that aging hippies are more of the problem though. For the baby boomers, the 60’s protesting to “change the world” ended in disappointment. They went from raging against the war, the man, etc. in the 60’s to 40 years of token lip service and “greedy corporatism”. For 40 years their movements were casually referenced in historical footnotes, tired news clips, and commercial jingles. For them, the end is near, and they know it. They have been absolutely desperate to co-opt another impressionable generation to live vicariously through (kinda creepy). I guess co-opting the gen-x’ers ended in failure..ahh.. but alas, the millennials. I suppose grandparents live to spoil their grandchildren. The irony I hope is not lost on them, through nurturing in them with their socialist/communist ideologies in hopes for one last chance to resurrect the failures of the giving/caring 60’s through possibly the most self-important and selfish (entitlement driven) and materialistic generations so far. Their little millennial monsters merely culled through the hipsters message for what they liked (me,me,me), and casually discarded the rest. Ends = = means I guess.

                2. What is OWS but a retread late 60s antiwar movement?

                  No way. The stoner’s of the 60’s had nowhere near the entitlement mentality of the millenials. Communes came from a “Fuck the Man, we’ll do it ourselves” mentality. Millenials are allergic to concepts such as independence.

                  1. I said they had 60s envy. I didn’t say they were not actually more retarded than the most retarded hippie, which they are.

                  2. ^this

            3. I think it is important to remember that most boomers were not counterculture weirdos or far left politically. It’s pretty silly to make broad generalizations about whole cohorts of people.

              1. The leaders of the counterculture were depression or wartime babies. Most were five to ten years older than the oldest boomers.

                Now the extent to which the oldest boomers influenced events came when we had to register for the draft, starting in 1964. That was the time when we had to decide how we really felt about getting an excursion to SE Asia to be shot at by yellow people.

                Anyone who thinks the boomers ever had a political ethos beyond self preservation is full of it.

            4. What’s amazing is the way the boomers who want to take credit for the civil rights struggle.

              Selma, the Voting Rights Act, school desegregation – that stuff was all done by the time the older boomer graduated from high school. They just flat missed the boat on it.

        3. I don’t think it pained them at all to cover the Clinton scandal stuff. If there is one thing that trumps the partisan crap it’s a nice juicy scandal.

      2. They were just as lax and forgiving of Clinton as they have been of Obama. American Pravda covers up for Democrats.

    2. Let us caress the cock of totalitarianism together, MSM — united, we shall rule the world and all things in it.

      /Obama.

    3. Actually, there are a few. Drum writes for MoJo, and Greenwald writes for Salon. But it still seems like the vast majority of the press is pimping for Obama at a level previously unknown.

      1. Greenwald is an opinion hack. He is not a reporter. Sheryl Atkisson at CBS, who has done yeoman’s work reporting on Fast and Furious is about the only straight reporter who doesn’t seem to be part of the Obama PR team.

        1. Drum and Greenwald have at least pointed out that The One hasn’t fulfilled his promises, and has a generally mediocre human rights record.

          Admittedly, it’s a low bar for intellectual honesty among most of the lefty press, so I’ll take what I can get.

          1. Greenwald has viciously attacked both the administration and leftists for their partisan bullshit regarding the Obama administration. It’s unfortunate that John can’t credit Greenwald for that. I guess TEAM runs in John’s blood too.

            1. I did give him credit for that. I just pointed out that he is an opinion hack (nothing wrong with being one) and not a straight reporter.

              When the only people you can find who are not completely in the tank are opinion writers instead of reporters, that is a pretty sorry statement on the media.

              And no I don’t like Greenwald. I don’t care how much hmming and hawing he does over his disappointment over Obama. He is still a hard core economic leftists who has no respect for civil rights that relate to business or one’s ability to earn a living.

    4. I sincerely doubt a law professor at W&L will wait for the current occupant to leave the white house before they get started.

      If you were referring to the press themselves, of course you’re right.

  2. ….but the news media have largely rolled over and yawned.

    Well it’s not like we’re talking about something important like the White House correspondents dinner or Joe Biden coming to terms with Gay marriage!

    Get your priorities straight.

  3. But the bigger problem – the root problem – isn’t the press; it’s the Obama administration’s hypocritical and legally dubious pursuit of the leakers and whistleblowers that President Obama once praised and promised to defend.

    Dems stand up for privacy rights and freedom of speech the same way Repubs stand up for free markets.

    1. Bingo. TEAM trumps all.

  4. It’s simple. If someone in the government exposes something bad happening under a Republican administration then obviously that whistleblower should be protected because the republicans are bad. If someone in the government exposes something bad happening under a Democrat administration then obviously that whistleblower is a threat to national security because the democrats are good. Duh.

  5. “We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance,” it says. “Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government.”

    He’s kept that promise. Since the Obama Administration never admits to wrongdoing, any media sources within the government are by definition not whistleblowers, but traitors.

  6. I’ve also noticed that the CIA and other government agency leaks have also dropped tremendously since Obama.

    1. What’s there to leak? The anointed one has those agencies running perfectly, absolutely subservient to the ultimate concept of individual liberty. Any “leaks” much actually be GOP holdovers looking to discredit the messiah.

  7. Investigative reporters are supposed to be the ones keeping an eye on the government. Instead, it turns out, it’s the other way around.

    Let’s close the loop and get some public support of the media.

  8. OK wow this makes a LOT of sense man, WOw.

    http://www.Better-Privacy.tk

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