Sunday, October 12, 2014

The case of Investigative Reporter James Risen OR How the government takes away Press Freedom

The aim of the government of the USA is to turn all investigative reporters into purring pussies and if investigative reporters cow down  to the bullying, the future looks bleaker and bleaker for that great country.  

Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler writing at TheNation:
The Government War Against Reporter James Risen
The vendetta against him and whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling reflects an antidemocratic goal: the uninformed consent of the governed.

Ever since New York Times reporter James Risen received his first subpoena from the Justice Department more than six years ago, occasional news reports have skimmed the surface of a complex story. The usual gloss depicts a conflict between top officials who want to protect classified information and a journalist who wants to protect confidential sources. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Sterling—a former undercover CIA officer now facing charges under the Espionage Act, whom the feds want Risen to identify as his source—is cast as a disgruntled ex-employee in trouble for allegedly spilling the classified beans.

But the standard media narratives about Risen and Sterling have skipped over deep patterns of government retaliation against recalcitrant journalists and whistleblowers. Those patterns are undermining press freedom, precluding the informed consent of the governed and hiding crucial aspects of US foreign policy. The recent announcement of Eric Holder’s resignation as attorney general has come after nearly five years of the Obama administration extending and intensifying the use of the Justice Department for retribution against investigative journalism and whistleblowing.

Official enmity toward Risen had simmered for years before the Bush administration sent him a subpoena on January 24, 2008. Shortly before the 2004 presidential election, Risen and his colleague Eric Lichtblau put together breakthrough reporting on a warrantless domestic-wiretap program. As it sometimes does with stories deemed sensitive for national security, the Times notified the government of its intent to publish. But under strong pressure from White House officials—including some later implicated in the legally suspect program—Times editors delayed the story’s publication for over a year, until December 2005. The coverage won Risen and Lichtblau a Pulitzer Prize for “carefully sourced stories on secret domestic eavesdropping that stirred a national debate.” It was the kind of debate that the people running the US surveillance state had been desperate to avoid.................

...........The CIA is no more hospitable to whistleblowers—or to reporters who turn their disclosures into scandals. A decade ago, to the growing dismay of top CIA officials, Risen made it clear that he was no garden-variety reporter. His July 6, 2004, front-page Times story, headlined CIA Held Back Iraqi Arms Data, was a stunning account of agency mendacity. Before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the CIA had recruited as informants about thirty relatives of Iraqi scientists—and received strong indications that Saddam Hussein’s government no longer had any programs for developing weapons of mass destruction. But the CIA kept mum about those findings, even as the Bush White House continued to proclaim that invading Iraq was necessary due to its purported WMDs............

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