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

SamAdams

Gotcha. Bush/Cheney (who were the most HEINOUS of criminals) did it, and you're still upset about it years later. Obama does it, and it's okay BECAUSE Bush/Cheney did it! Nice!

I also really like the way you say we're still free here in comparison to places like China. Oh, it's not that you're wrong. It's that that's like saying having you smash my hand with a sledge hammer is WAY better than having you smash my HEAD! True. But wouldn't it be better if you smashed NEITHER? I'm just asking...

Nemesis

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

That's the first intelligent thing you've ever said on this site.

ContraryAnn

So you agree Bush's transgressions are serious. So serious he can't leave the country because he - and Cheney - have been convicted of murder.

grumpy

So you are claiming that there is little difference between bush and obama? I would wholeheartedly agree. As well as there is little difference between the parties... when it gets down to what they currently are doing, not what they did in the past or what they say (to get your vote). Great points coaster!

Goes to show we need more points of view in gov't... as well as more parties. Thanks for pointing this out to us all.

ContraryAnn

Didja hear the one about...

Rhonda Damschroder's attorney getting the Ohio Elections Commission to consider finding a citizen's action before the OEC 'frivolous' and fining the citizen up to $5,000 for exercising Freedom of Speech?

The co$t of free speech? As much as $5,000 according to OEC Executive Director Philip Richter.

Mr. Lynn Grimshaw, the 'independent' member of said Commission whose last DECLARED status was as a DEMOCRAT in the 2002 Primary in Scioto County and now is a 'non-partisan' because he hasn't voted in a primary since then?

Babo

I'd laugh but this is so sad. Lynn Grimshaw was the former prosecutor in Scioto County. Scioto was ground zero for hillbilly heroin (oxycontin) and pill mills flourished during Grimshaw's term in office. He has been used as a special prosecutor by other county prosecutor's allegedly involved in protecting the drug trade.

ContraryAnn

When was he in office? What party?

Babo

Grimshaw was a Democratic county prosecutor in Scioto county for 27 years. Had a miserable reputation. Here's one bloglink http://dougdeepereturns.blogspot....

Dr. Information

Go figure, a DUMBO trying to limit speech.

ContraryAnn

In the recent case the COST of FREE speech was 'only' $556.

ContraryAnn

1. Sandusky County Probate/Juvenile judge Brad Smith and.
2. Philip Richter, Executive Director of the Ohio Elections Commission.

"I gave the reporter all those facts and examples....
"If he did not report them, that is his CHOICE"

Similar comments were made by Sandusky County officials who claimed SR reporters 'chose not to include' some statements and facts.

It seems the PRESS here is extremely FREE

Darwin's choice

Is that a problem for you? It's kinda like your president's administration leaving out "facts" when it's convient.

ContraryAnn

No Darwin , it's not at all like you say.
It's not about 'officials' leaving out information when it's convenient.

It's about REPORTERS censoring the facts before the story is written.
It's about the dreadful lack of journalism in much of Ohio - and the nation.

Darwin's choice

Do you agree that, as a whole, the media itself has been spoon feeding us? Not just reporters, but the entire organization? Reporters stories are always redacted.....

ContraryAnn

of course. BTW. we haven't had reporters - and certainly not journalists - many years.

Ralph J.

I didn't like Bush but I don't recall any federal agents acting like a paramilitary force going after Americans. Recall the acts by Janet Reno. Under Obama and Holder, there have been attacks on Americans, journalists and whistleblowers. Locally recall the military type actions at the winery and those members of that Michigan militia. Anyone who is happy with the loss of freedom of the press and free speech needs a reality check. Why did the feds go after Deric Lostutter who exposed that rape in Steubenville?

IF YOU ARE A JOURNALIST, ACTIVIST, OR FREEDOM FIGHTER FEARING CRIMINAL INDICTMENT FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: THEN WE DEFEND YOUR LIBERTY, YOUR ACTIONS, YOUR CAUSE.

http://www.whistleblowerdefensel...

We do not have a justice system that controls economics, but an economic system that controls justice. This is the battleground, the front lines of a new civil rights movement where together we fight for the rights that give dignity and meaning to our lives.

http://www.whistleblowerdefensel...

We do not have a justice system that controls economics, but an economic system that controls justice. This is the battleground, the front lines of a new civil rights movement where together we fight for the rights that give dignity and meaning to our lives. The Whistleblower Defense League is honored to represent Deric Lostutter pro bono, but he needs our help to try and equal the playing field against the infinite war chest of the U.S Government.

http://www.whistleblowerdefensel...

ContraryAnn

"an economic system that controls justice"

AKA Fascism and Mussolini.

The Big Dog's back

Hey tom, how about you do a story on praising cliven bundy.

Donegan

You cannot deflect fast enough now that everyone knows your god is a failure.

ContraryAnn

And yet his 'god' is still president for 32 more months because your gods don't have the votes successfully to impeach - nor can you get them in November. Best guess now is gaining a 51-49 GOP majority in the Senate - still six short of the necessary 2/3 to remove.
Impeach by the House? Yeah... look what THAT did to Clinton.

Darwin's choice

Well coaster-ann, you should stop using the EXACT wording in your blathering!

Troll!!! Another obama "snake oil" salesman.....

ContraryAnn

Does it hurt to be soooo wrong. Is it even possible to post under two different 'monikers'?

Donegan

First i do not have gods, I have public servants who if they do their jobs right will keep your god in check before he screws anything else up so bad it cannot be fixed. How does it feel to know everyone knows your god is a failure?

Maggdi

I do not have gods either. But, by your definition you have, under the right conditions, an entity that 'may' save you from the capriciousness of another entity... sounds like there are caveats to deity.
And that you are willing to base decisions on this 'hope'. Let me know how that works out in the macro of this philosophy.
How about just relying on yourself.... unless some 'entity' doesn't like that plan....

Donegan

I have public SERVANTS who's sole job is to prevent wannabe gods from taking complete control with the consent of the morons.
My "Entity" Is a system of government with checks and balances with servants supposedly keeping those checks in place and enforcing them. Obama is literally a god to those who cannot and will not even hint at his failures. They infringe on his infallibility as a god so they choose to blame others or ignore facts. I do rely on myself but i also partake in a system that is for the people by the people, Not the liberal god in the white house.
P.S Pick a name and stick with it.

KURTje

Liked your post holysee. John Birch! ABABaabahaba . Haven't heard of them in years.

danbury dad

You know how bad it is when all the left has is to go back and say how bad Bush was and his supposed transgressions. Though few have any idea what those are as they do not exist.( and I don't care to hear how he lied and people died as more soldiers died under Obama's reign than under the Bush administration). Is that all you have , to blame someone else who hasn't been president for 6 years? You people really have to get a different playbook as you are starting to sound like a broken record. Even if Bush was half as bad as you say is it right for this president not be brought to task for his real transgressions? If Bush had let one of his diplomats die like Obama did , with no support from our military he would have been run out of office the next day.

ContraryAnn

China Debt.
No Child Left Behind.
Medicare Advantage.
GITMO and waterboarding/torture.

Six years.... and still we are paying off the debt, climbing up from the deepest depression in modern history, still overcoming GITMO with a nation and Congress and their NIMBY rules.

Ralph J.

According to a new report from Reporters Without Borders, there was a profound erosion of press freedom in the United States in 2013.

After a year of attacks on whistleblowers and digital journalists and revelations about mass surveillance, the United States plunged 13 spots in the group's global press freedom rankings to number 46.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jo...

Here's Why U.S. Press Freedom Now Ranks With That of Haiti and Romania

http://www.takepart.com/article/...

For the first time in its 32-year history, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has published a report investigating press freedom in the United States. Published Thursday, the report follows an unprecedented number of prosecutions of government sources and seizures of journalists' records under the Obama administration that many contend have curtailed press freedom and government transparency.

http://america.aljazeera.com/art...

ContraryAnn

$556 and change... the current COST of FREE speech - although one attorney placed a much higher price tag on it.

Wonder if the SR will tell the entire 'frivolous' story.

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