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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.