News / USA

Report: White House Scrutiny of Leaks Threatens Press Freedom

A reporter takes notes as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (C) answers his question about Syria during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Aug. 27, 2013.
A reporter takes notes as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (C) answers his question about Syria during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Aug. 27, 2013.
VOA News
The Obama administration's aggressive prosecution of leaks and its efforts to control information are becoming a threat to press freedom and democracy, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

A report released Thursday by the New York-based media watchdog group said U.S. President Barack Obama's actions have been a sharp contradiction to his promise of transparency and open government.

Former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, the report's author, said "administration officials and employees are increasingly afraid to talk to the press" due to heightened scrutiny of leaks.

He said six government employees and two contractors have been targeted for prosecution under the 1917 Espionage Act for accusations they leaked classified information to the press. Downie said this was a chilling use of a law used "only in three previous cases in the past nine decades."

White House officials interviewed for the report strongly objected to being portrayed as against press freedom. "The idea that people are shutting up and not leaking to reporters is belied by the facts," Obama press secretary Jay Carney told Downie.

National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said there is still investigative reporting about national security issues with information from "non-sanctioned sources with lots of unclassified information and some sensitive information.''

Downie interviewed numerous reporters and editors, including a top editor at The Associated Press, following revelations this year the government secretly seized records for telephone lines and switchboards used by more than 100 AP journalists. Downie also interviewed journalists whose sources have been prosecuted on felony charges.

In a statement accompanying the report, the Committee to Protect Journalists said it was "disturbed by the pattern of actions" that "have chilled the flow of information on issues of great public interest, including matters of national security."

The report about the United States is unusual for the press freedom group, which has this year completed investigations on Burma, China, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and Tanzania. The only time the United States has been the subject of a CPJ report was 19 years ago in a study on attacks on immigrant journalists.

CPJ executive director Joel Simon said the group decided to investigate U.S. press freedom "because journalists told us that the relationship with the administration had deteriorated to the point where it makes it difficult for them to do their job."

Downie added the Obama administration's "war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive" he had seen since the Nixon administration and The Washington Post's investigation of Watergate.

He said the policies are also harmful to U.S. efforts to promote press and Internet freedom around the world.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
October 10, 2013 11:04 PM
Thank you for being willing to cover this story, and related ones.


by: us from: us
October 10, 2013 7:07 PM
Becoming more of a Fascist country all the time. We are only given the illusion of freedom. Our elections are fixed, our money supply is based on nothing, and we are constantly being told what we can and cannot do. It amazes me that people are so oblivious to the REAL world. I guess as long as there is something to watch on TV, life is good??


by: Anonymous
October 10, 2013 3:40 PM
I would comment but I'm afraid of my government

In Response

by: Shameful from: USA
October 10, 2013 10:04 PM
And they have you right where they want you. SHAME ON YOU!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid