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

The Big Dog's back

Still can't dispute it.

grumpy

As I said the 4 things in the snopes article that you used to say there is nothing to Behngazi was not in dispute... there are other things, including saying it was spontanious and not planned and it was caused by a movie on utube, that the ambasidor asked for more secutiety and was refused, and more. Your snopes article didn't mention those. Sorry but your snopes article was meaningless. No matter how many times you stamp your foot and say it is beyond dispute. Those 4 things were not part of what was said about bengazi... except in your mind.

Nemesis

Snopes? REALLY? That's your source - a left wingnut site?

SamAdams

No, Obama didn't "cover up" Benghazi. We ALL know it happened because of a video on the Internet. That nobody knew about. That hardly anybody saw. That played no role whatsoever in the attack. And even if it WASN'T because of the video (though it was, wink, wink), it sure as heck wasn't terrorism!

Cover-up? Nope. Not at all. Cover-ups are usually quite a bit more plausible not to mention competently thought up! This was just a really lame lie.

Nemesis

"Nope, and neither did Obama."

Funny how I saw him on TV claiming it was because of a movie.

The Big Dog's back

Repubs were to busy trying to cover up a real hero's death, Pat Tillman.

Darwin's choice

I'll ask you too there, klingon, because your alter ego has said the same exact words!

Post some proof of obama being vindicated of Benghazi.

grumpy

ThinkProgress is a liberal American political blog that "provide[s] a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies".[2] It is an outlet of the Center for American Progress.

Funding[edit]
Politico writes that “like the conservative groups that have drawn Democratic criticism, [ThinkProgress’] parent 501(c)4 nonprofit doesn’t disclose its donors.”[12]
Controversies[edit]

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

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

The Center for American Progress is a partisan liberal public policy research and advocacy organization. Its website states that the organization is "dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action".[2]

Its President and chief executive officer is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.[5] Its first President and chief executive officer was John Podesta, who served as chief of staff to then U.S. President Bill Clinton.
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Just so folks know that it is a left wingnut website owned by a left wingnut 501(c)4 that won't disclose its donors.

Not surprizing that a left wingnut uses a left wingnut blog to back his claim. Take the biased information for what it is worth.

The Big Dog's back

Tell me what news source you want me to use on this one. This is 2014, not 2012.

The Big Dog's back

lengthy and comprehensive New York Times investigation informed what Republicans are desperate to keep under wraps because it revealed the Benghazi attack was “accelerated in part by anger at a U.S.-made video denigrating Islam.” The report parroted what any American with half-a-mind has known since Republicans began their relentless propaganda campaign that the Obama administration attempted to cover up al-Qaeda’s alleged role in the attack. According to the chairman of the House Intelligent Committee, Republican Mike Rogers, who kept the al-Qaeda meme alive last month on Fox News, “It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an al-Qaeda-led event.”

However, according to the Times, “The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished and had no prior knowledge of the assault.” The report said militants surveyed the U.S. compound at least 12 hours before the assault started, but “the violence also had spontaneous elements fueled in large part by anger at the (anti-Islam) video that motivated the initial attack.” It is important to note that the video, titled “Innocence of Muslims,” was made by an American and “had also prompted protests for hours the day before at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”

The report continued that “Dozens of people (in Benghazi) joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters.” According to a suspect who denied participating in the attack, “the video insulting the Prophet Mohammed might well have justified the killing of four Americans.”

Still, Congressional Republicans continue to assert that Stevens and three diplomats died in a carefully planned assault by al-Qaeda because they sought to undermine President Obama’s claim that al-Qaeda was decimated after killing its leadership including Osama bin Laden. Republicans assailed Susan E. Rice for announcing that based on early intelligence reports; the attacks were inspired by “spontaneous street protests that got out of hand as a result of the video denigrating the prophet Mohammed.” Susan Rice was mercilessly condemned by leading Republicans for allegedly lying about the attacks that led her to withdraw her name from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of State.

For the past year-and-a-half Republicans led a phony search for a Benghazi scandal wasting taxpayer time and money, but why did criminal Issa never investigate the Christian extremists for making, promoting, and releasing the video that clearly fueled the attacks that killed four American diplomats? If the criminal really wanted to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the attacks he would have begun immediate investigations into American Christians and not President Obama.

grumpy

Read the header of the website the this article was taken from: It is simply another left wingnut blog.

http://www.politicususa.com/2013...

Here is the NY Times report that your article was based on... your article has it linked from the word "investigation" in the third paragraph.

www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/be...

If you wanted something that wasn't biased, read the NYT report that I linked to and your article was based from... minus the obvious bias, besides being much more in depth and fact based. But you prefer when it is biased and opinion based instead of fact based.You like the opinions from the left wingnut blogs, over fact based articles.

The Big Dog's back

So read the NYT report and ignore what you don't like. Oh, OK. :-)

grumpy

The only part you liked was when the writer bashed repubes... which was just his opinion based not fact based. You only like leftwingnuts who agree with your narrow view of politics and policies. Everyone else is a right wingnut. You live in a narrow minded world.

The Big Dog's back

Still can't dispute the facts can ya.

grumpy

List your so-called "facts" you keep spouting about. If not then I will assume they don't exist outside narrow outlook in your head.

AJ Oliver

Tom's article is fair. Obama promised to protect whistle blowers, and has not done so - and his administration has indeed gone after journalists. The case of John Kiriakou is particularly troubling. It's also true that the righties were fine with Dubya going after journalists hammer and tong during the run-up to the Iraq war. Lets try not to let partisanship cloud our analysis, OK?

Ralph J.

Like!

Nemesis

"It's also true that the righties were fine with Dubya going after journalists"

Again with the false accusations. I suggest you get out more.

grumpy

It is beginning to look/read like the media is getting into "Hope" and "Change" while looking to find "the most transparent administration ever". I "Hope that They keep looking for that "Change". It seems we are only doing the same thing the reviled bush administration has done... and use the excuse bush did it also or bush did it first. Is it better to do what you have said is bad, after acknowledging that it is bad... but you do it anyway? I can see a 10 year old doing that, and using that excuse... but an adult... and leader of a "party" let alone a leader of a country?

And people wonder why I don't like a limited number of "parties" , and wonder why I don't like "big federal gov't".

Term limits, having States appoint the Senators, having States and local governments more say in government, would be a good start in fixing what the federal gov't has screwed up. Government should be closer to the People and further from DC.

The Big Dog's back

What is it with you roght wingnuts? 1st you say Obama wasn't experienced enough, now you want to put inexperienced people in Congress by having term limits?

Donegan

1st he had NO experience 2nd, term limits would limit the damage stupid people do by electing people with no experience. 3rd it would get rid of the crooks and liars you seem to love so well.
Why are YOU against them? Oh i forgot you want a king and/or the proletariat to be in control.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Congress shouldn't "need" to have people who have been inside of it for 30 years to run it. The system should be set up so that it is publicly accessible, easy to understand, and representative of the people and states. The only reason you see a "need" for GOBs is because GOBs set up the system by becoming GOBs.

Just like with any stagnant thing entropy sets in. Water stagnates. Trees rot. Limbs become gangrenous. Politically rivalries fester, pet projects become priorities, and it becomes a battle of money and egos instead of representative government by people who came from and will return to the public.

grumpy

Perhaps such ideas, such as term limits and having the States appoint US Senators to represent the States,and all laws imposed on the People shall also should be imposed on Congress, and all Federal Gov't, be made into a Constitutional Amendment? It would seem to be logical for it to happen.

The Big Dog's back

Logical? Really? To who, you?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Are you implying that it isn't logical to have any of the above?

The Big Dog's back

Since Repubs won't even smell the Presidency of the US for at least 10 years, they are now focusing on the state Governors, that's why they want appointments.

Dr. Information

The idiot coaster is here to spin this great article off topic, as usual.

Obama and holder are above us, and they rub it in our face daily. Impeach this fool.

coasterfan

If we didn't impeach Bush for his many transgressions, we ain't gonna impeach Obama. Dream on.

As to the topic of this article, my original point is that Obama has done absolutely nothing that Bush/Cheney didn't also do.

Furthermore, anyone who is wringing their hands about Freedom of Press issues in America clearly needs to wake up, and take a look at what TRUE suppression of speech looks like in other countries. Chinese newspapers are severely restricted by the government as to what they can print. Twitter isn't allowed in China; many websites are restricted.

The reason that people from other countries across the world still emigrate to America is because - compared to the place they currently live - America values freedom and free speech to a higher degree. The only people who believe that has changed to a measureable degree under Obama are Republicans, who oppose Obama on everything as a matter of principle.

From where I'M sitting, the biggest roadblock to freedom and free speech in America is the Republican Party. They believe THEY should have basic freedoms, but work hard on all fronts to deny others of the things they enjoy...equal rights, equal pay for the same job, healthcare...the list goes on and on and on...

If you're going to do the typical Republican Chicken Little imitation, carping about the supposed "end of America as we know it", why not pick a REAL crisis for a change? We're 20+ years into the Rush/Beck/Levin warnings that "America is doomed", yet here we still are. If you still listen to those folks, you clearly don't have much ability to sort baloney from fact.

Darwin's choice

" you clearly don't have much ability to sort boloney from fact".

From the puppet's mouth. Your daily ranting of all things obama proves your above statement. Troll. Do you think you daily comments are helping your cause? Whatever that may be? Just today, the half-black-rican became all black by weighing in on the NBA drama, what a great way to show he's a jesse jackson/al sharpton racist clone. You'll no doubt be commenting here about the "great virtues" that he displays etc., while your president wears his azz on his shoulders yet again....

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