Obama Administration

First Amendment Freedoms at Core of Recent White House Scandals

Not so free speech-friendly


It has been a bad few weeks for the First Amendment.

The sinister commonality to the Internal Revenue Service and AP scandals and the James Rosen affair is that each appears to have been (strike "appears ": each was) an attempt to suppress a core American right.

Freedom of the press was clearly the target in the Rosen Affair. The Justice Department, according to Ryan Lizza at newyorker.com, "not only subpoenaed Rosen's private e-mails but also said that Rosen was 'an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator' in the alleged crime." Lizza adds that, "[I]t is unprecedented for the government, in an official court document, to accuse a reporter of breaking the law for conducting the routine business of reporting on government secrets." Writes the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, "The Rosen affair… uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of."