Celebrate freedom of the press with Barack Obama!

Tom Jackson
Apr 26, 2014

The U.S. State Department has just launched a Free the Press campaign. "This year, the Department will profile journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting. The Department will direct the world’s attention to their plight and call on their governments to protect and promote the universal human right to free expression."

Good for them! Did you know that there are countries where powerful officials demonize whistleblowers who leak inconvenient truths to the press? Where a reporter can be detained by the police, just for trying to ask a powerful federal official a question?

But as Boing Boing notes, the timing of the Obama administration's free press campaign seems to be a little off. The same day that the State Department launched its campaign, Obama's Justice Department filed a legal brief at the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for permission to toss a New York Times reporter, James Risen, into jail for refusing to answer questions about a confidential source.

Risen has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, in 2006 for stories about President George Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, and in 2002, as part of a team writing about 9/11 and terrorism.

Speaking of the Department of Justice, the guy who runs it, Attorney General Eric Holder, recently was caught giving false statements to a federal judge about a case involving a Stanford University graduate student named Rahinah Ibrahim. In a wheelchair after just having a hysterectomy, she was attempting to fly to a conference in Hawaii to give a paper on affordable housing when she was arrested at a San Francisco airport, handcuffed and denied pain medication before finally being released, according to this important news account by Wired magazine's David Kravets.

Ibrahim filed a lawsuit to clear her name. It turned out that she was accused of being a dangerous terrorist and placed on a "no fly" list because an FBI agent checked the wrong box on a form.

OK, mistakes happen. Sorry about that, Rahinah! No hard feelings, huh?

But this is where the case gets interesting: Obama administration officials, instead of admitting the mistake, spent years covering it up.

Holder filed a signed declaration last year, declaring under penalty of perjury that based on his own personal knowledge, revealing any information about the case would harm national security. 

In the same signed statement, Holder even said that the secrecy complies with an Obama administration policy that information will not be concealed to conceal an error or prevent embarrassment to a federal agency. 

Kravets wrote that Holder's statement is "now nearly impossible to square with the facts." He asked the Justice Department for comment but didn't get a response.

The ruling by the federal judge in the case, William Alsup, shows that the government continued to harass Ibrahim and her family. Her daughter, a United States citizen, was placed on the "no fly" list and prevented from flying to the U.S. to attend her mother's trial. Ibrahim herself was denied a visa to attend the trial. And that's just the stuff that isn't blacked out. (The judge's ruling is here.)

Alsup ordered the government to correct its error, and referred in his judgment to "the frustrating efforts by the government to shield its actions from public view."

The judge also wrote in his order that, "In short, public release of this entire order will reveal very little, if any, information about the workings of our watchlists not already in the public domain. Public release would reveal no classified information whatsoever."

The order was pretty heavily blacked out, anyway. 

Maybe as the State Department talks about a free press, it can talk about government censorship.

Comments

sugar

Tyranny is here.

GoBigLex2001

Barack Obama and Freedom in the same sentence doesnt go together. He is so ANTI-freedom.

holysee

teabagjohnbirchfauxnewzpatriot

Nemesis

It seems Big Dog has a rival for this year's award for the most reflexive knee jerk jingoistic meaningless non-substantive sound bite response.

coasterfan

Fox has a huge head start, so they'll win that award hands down.

Nemesis

And now Coaster throws his hat in the ring. However, your entry will only be a runner up next to holysee's gem.

worddrow811

supercalafragelisticexpyalidocious to you holysee

Coram Deo

An act of journalism if I ever saw one! Well done Tom Jackson. I have to wonder though are you surprised at these revelations or are you just now seeing what many of us have known for a long, long time?

JMOP

Not only has this administration lied, wire tapped, and corrupted our own media outlets, they want to police the worlds? In other words, they don't like the truth being reported.

I see that this is their third year? Has anything been done about the corruption yet?

coasterfan

JMOP, if my memory serves me correctly, you originally posted this in 2005.

JMOP

Nope, I didn't Coaster. Perhaps you suffer from delusions?

Darwin's choice

Amazing how the puppet master continues to prop up the failure in charge!

They are grand delusions, not just normal delusions! Remember, it's coasterfan after all!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine - the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.

And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

How did this happen? Who's to blame?

Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

- V for Vendetta

SamAdams

If more people saw/read "V for Vendetta," if more people read "1984," if more people paid REAL attention, we wouldn't be where we are now.

People need to stop pretending that the press is still free in this country. No, the press is free to AGREE WITH BARACK OBAMA. We all know that wiretapping, confiscating computers and records, harassment campaigns, public ridicule, and even arrests aren't typically hallmarks of press freedom. We stand together in outrage when such stories are leaked out of China, Iran, Russia, North Korea, or other despotic regimes. So where's our outrage NOW when these things have been, and continue to be, happening right here and right now? Our complacency (fed by the bread and circuses offered up by the government) WILL be the death of freedom!

Don't feel like a movie or sitting down with a book? Fine. Take a minute to recall a little real world history, then! NONE of this bodes well. (And don't get me started on how the government has ensured so many of us are so fearful that we willingly accept infringements of liberty in the pretense we're safer, or how many in the media are actively colluding with their overseers!)

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

"Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?" - Squealer, Animal Farm

coasterfan

AND we know those things also happened to a great deal during the Bush years. AND we know that the people who are crying a Tyranny today were curiously silent when the same exact things happened 2002-2008.

Donegan

There were those of us who decried it during the Bush years but somehow it became Ok to the racist when the present admin came into office. Here are your options:1 you like Bush policy, 2.Your a hypocrite because now you approve of them based on who is sitting in office. Take your choice Coaster.

SamAdams

Ditto. The only two differences between then and now are a matter of degree (where Obama wins and we lose, hands down!) and the fact that criticizing George W. Bush didn't typically get me branded a racist.

Nemesis

"we know that the people who are crying a Tyranny today were curiously silent"

Coaster, you keep asserting that, despite the fact that it's demonstrably false.

SamAdams

... (duplicate post)

danbury dad

Freedom of the press for only those who support and bow down to you is not freedom of the press. Speak out against this administration and they will try everything they can to shut you down. I think Obama learned constitutional law in Russia.

Peninsula Pundit

You again?
Go crawl back into your hole.

coasterfan

More proof that the rightwing media have a skewed view of everything...

They continue to whine about Benghazi, yet never never ever mention any of the following Embassy attacks that happened during the Bush years:

2002 US Consulate Karachi, Pakaistan, 10 dead
2004 US Consulate Uzbekistan, 2 dead
2004 US Consulate Saudi Arabia, 8 dead
2006 US Embassy, Syria, 1 dead
2007 US Embassy attacked in Athens
2008 US Embassy attacked in Serbia
2008 US Embassy, Yemen, 10 dead

As is always the case with Republicans, bad things are only worth talking about, if they happened since 2009.

JMOP

Hmmm....did Bush cover up the fact why these ambassadors died?

coasterfan

Nope, and neither did Obama. Republicans wanted desperately to embroil Obama in some sort of scandal, prior to the 2012 election. And when none occurred, they invented one. Voila! Benghazi.

The interesting thing is that - even though it has been so completely debunked that many rightwing journalists are saying "enough already", the conspiracy theory lives on, among the extreme nutbags. It belongs in the same silly file with the "birther" issue.

Darwin's choice

Liar.
Again, when has obama been vindicated of the Benghazzi "scandal"????????
Please list the hearings that would show ANY of your lying to be true!

The Big Dog's back

http://www.snopes.com/politics/m...

I know you are reading challenged, but try to read.

grumpy

Since most people don't dispute the 4 items that snopes discusses, I thought I would link to a timeline with links to some, but not all of the pertinent questions and data and where it came from.

http://www.factcheck.org/2012/10...

The Big Dog's back

So in other words you can't dispute it.

grumpy

Why dispute the 4 things in the snopes article? they aren't what is being disputed by anyone. Those few things were disposed of long ago. There are other things about Bengazi that are being investigated. You are only a year or so off on what is in dispute. Try keeping up with the rest of the country.

A little primer for those who haven't kept up... and PART of what some folks think was handled wrong by the Administrations own State Department, that I copied and pasted. There is more if you read the article. There is more if you wish to search... and NONE of it is about the 4 things mentioned in the snopes article.

I suggest reading the snpoes article that was linked and then the wiki on the attack and see if thiose 4 items are even mentioned... they were deemed insignificant to even be mentioned in the wiki article. No wonder you linked to them, they are all but meaningless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/201...

State Department Accountability Review Board
As required by the Omnibus Diplomatic and Antiterrorism Act of 1986, the State Department announced on October 4, 2012 an Accountability Review Board "to examine the facts and circumstances of the attacks."[263] Four members were selected by Clinton and another was selected by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering served as the Chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen served as the Vice Chairman, also serving were Catherine Bertini, Richard Shinnick, and Hugh Turner, who represented the intelligence community.[97]
The investigation report[97] was released December 20, 2012. It was seen as a sharp criticism of State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests for more guards and safety upgrades, and for failing to adapt security procedures to a deteriorating security environment. "Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department ... resulted in a special mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," said the unclassified version of the report.[264] It also blamed too much reliance on local militias who failed to fend off the attackers that evening.[265] The Council on Foreign Relations in an initial report saw it as a refutation to the notion that the Obama administration delayed its response.[266] However, it confirmed that contrary to initial accounts, there was no protest outside the consulate. It placed responsibility for the incident solely upon the attackers, deemed as terrorists.[267]

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