One of the nation's most battle-tested First Amendment experts warned this week that President Obama "surely" will exceed the 1970s abuses of Richard Nixon "as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom."
James C. Goodale, left, was New York Times general counsel during its 1971 fight with the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers.
He wrote a Times op-ed May 21, Only Nixon Harmed a Free Press More. It cited recent revelations about the Obama Justice Department's extreme measures to plug national security leaks by two months of secret surveillance of 20 phone lines used by more than 100 Associated Press reporters, plus monitoring of a Fox News reporter suspected of speaking with a State Department contractor.
"The search warrant filed to investigate the Fox News reporter James Rosen proved as many had suspected: President Obama wants to make it a crime for a reporter to talk to a leaker," Goodale wrote. "Until President Obama came into office, no one thought talking or e-mailing was not protected by the First Amendment."
Update: Eric Holder Signed Off On Search Warrant For James Rosen Emails: NBC News. Among experts weighing in with quite different viewpoints, excerpted below, are former University of Chicago Law School Dean Geoffrey Stone, a First Amendment advocate who believes Rosen technically may have broken long-unenforced law. Former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie argues that the Obama administration is undertaking actions extremely dangeous for the public.
The show continued our focus on the issue, exemplified a year ago in my column, Press Probes 'Obama's War On Leaks. It reported on a panel convened by the nation's two leading press clubs whereby prominent reporters issued dire warnings about dangers to the public from the Obama administration's methods.
Goodale voiced his concerns repeatedly this spring following publication of his well-regarded book, Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles.
His analysis has become an especially hot topic with this month's revelations that government surveillance targets included Associated Press and Fox News reporters and their sources. In addition, independent, web-based journalists and whistleblowers have long protested the Obama administration as enshrining into more settled law abusive Bush administration tactics for suppressing leaks post-9/11.
The Justice Integrity Project has covered this fight extensively for several years. Among notable columns have been Mr. Drake Goes To Washington, comparing former National Security Agency executive and spy defendant Thomas Drake to the embattled hero, Jimmy Stewart, in the iconic movie about corruption-fighting in Washington. Another story quoted six prominent whistleblowers as stating that the Obama Justice Department seemed more dangerous and vindictive to them than the Bush administration.
Update: The Justice Integrity Project published on June 16: Backgrounder on Obama's Big Data Domestic Spying System. The purpose was to resolve conflicting claims about recent revelations about the Obama-Bush domestic spying program.
Also, we broke the stories (along with Alabama reporter Roger Shuler of Legal Schnauzer) that the Swedish law firm attacking WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has ties to the CIA. Sweden has relentlessly sought custody of Assange for questioning on sex misconduct claims. The intense focus on Assange suggests a hidden agenda for his role in distributing secret government documents -- not simply a probe of sex misconduct claims that are not formal charges.
Goodale, in a break with many establishment First Amendment advocates, has cited Assange's treatment as a dangerous sign for the media. Goodale asserts that a potential U.S. prosecution of Assange on spy charges would be a tipping point in moving Obama past Nixon as more dangerous on First Amendment issues.
Assange has obtained refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to prevent United Kingdom extradition of Assange to face further questioning in Sweden. Swedish authorities say they want to question him on claims of sex misconduct during a 2010 speaking trip. Assange and his attorneys fear that the Obama administration has made secret plans with Sweden to prosecute him as a spy because of his disclosure of U.S., Swedish, and other confidential materials to the public.
For such analysis, Goodale draws on a long career at elite levels of the legal profession in New York. Most prominent was his representation of the Times in 1971 when it faced objections in court from the Nixon administration over Times plans to publish the Pentagon Papers, a confidential Defense Department history of the Vietnam War leaked to the Times. Goodale helped win a landmark Supreme Court decision allowing publication.
His book provides a behind-the-scenes story of the debate over whether publication benefited the nation.
"This is the story," according to a book description, "of a constitutional victory whose lessons are as essential today as they were in the 1970s -- and of the personalities involved, including a disillusioned intellectual, aggressive reporters, meticulous editors, a cautious publisher, a vengeful attorney general, a beleaguered president and, in the middle of it all, the lawyer who urged his clients to fight for the First Amendment."
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the test for an injunction was whether publication would cause “direct, immediate and irreparable damage to our nation and its people.” Goodale assessed the significance of the decision as:
The Pentagon Papers case was the first of its kind in American history. The United States Government tried and failed to use the courts to censor the press through the issuance of a prior restraint order. It will be very difficult for the government ever to succeed. The test adopted by the Supreme Court, that the government must show that a publication will surely cause direct immediate and irreparable damage to its nation or its people, is almost impossible to meet. The Pentagon Papers will never be overruled. It is a case for the ages.
Amazon.com readers have so far rated the book at the highest possible level, five stars.
Also, the book is, "The most detailed and honest inside account yet of the fight to publish the Pentagon Papers by the uncompromising lawyer in the middle of it," according to Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize investigative journalist. "This history could not come at a more important time."
Dan Rather wrote, "This is a story worthy of John Grisham, except this one actually happened; it is fact, not fiction—and it's still unfolding....James Goodale is an American treasure and so is his book."
Other news coverage on his author's website includes a New York Magazine analysis, Is Obama Really As Bad As NIxon When It Comes To Targeting The Press?" by Joe Coscarelli.
Editor's Note: This column was updated following the radio show
Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
News Coverage for James Goodale's New Book
New York Times, Only Nixon Harmed a Free Press More, James C. Goodale, May 21, 2013. The search warrant filed to investigate the Fox News reporter James Rosen proved as many had suspected: President Obama wants to make it a crime for a reporter to talk to a leaker. It is a further example of how President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom. The government's subpoena of The Associated Press's phone records was bad enough. But the disclosure of the search warrant in the Rosen case shows President Obama has delved into territory never before reached by previous presidents.
FireDogLake, FDL Book Salon Welcomes James C. Goodale, author of 'Fighting For The Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles,' Author interview by Kevin Gosztola, May 19, 2013. “If in fact he goes ahead and prosecutes Julian Assange, he will pass Nixon. He’s close to Nixon now,” the former general counsel for the New York Times, James Goodale, said of President Barack Obama on “Democracy Now!” The Justice Department’s seizure of the Associated Press’ phone records is a “good example of something that Obama has done but Nixon never did. So I have him presently in second place, behind Nixon and ahead of Bush II,” he added. Goodale led the legal team that made the case in the courts in 1971 that the Times had the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, top secret Defense Department documents that exposed US policies around the Vietnam War and were provided to the news organization by Daniel Ellsberg.
New York Magazine, Is Obama Really As Bad As NIxon When It Comes To Targeting The Press? Joe Coscarelli, May 22, 2013. James Goodale knows a thing or two about whistleblowers. As a First Amendment lawyer, he represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case against the Nixon administration and recently wrote about his experience and its implications today in Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles. But what was once an esoteric issue has suddenly inserted itself into the national conversation with the news that the Obama administration secretly seized phone records from the Associated Press and tracked the communication of at least one other reporter while in pursuit of national security leakers.
Democracy Now! Obama Worse Than Nixon? Pentagon Papers Attorney Decries AP Phone Probe, Julian Assange Prosecution, Juan González, May 17, 2013. Author James Goodale, the general counsel of the New York Times during the Pentagon Papers crackdown, is a leading legal expert on the First Amendment and has just published a new book, Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles. Goodale said he wrote the book in part because of the work of Julian Assange of the whistle blowing website WikiLeaks, and how he is likely being targeted by the U.S. government in an ongoing grand jury probe. "My book is meant to be a clarion call to the journalist community: Wake up! There’s danger out there," Goodale says. "You may not like Assange, but wake up! The First Amendment is really going to be damaged. If Obama goes forward and succeeds, he will have succeeded where Nixon failed."
More Book Commentaries
"I thought I knew the Pentagon Papers story backward and foreword, but Fighting for the Press proved me wrong. James Goodale has written a thriller that is also an insider's account of perhaps the most important moment in modern journalism."—Alex Jones, Director, Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy
"James Goodale's 'Fighting for the Press' is a brilliant fusion of memoir, scholarly essay, and historic narrative. Cheers for James Goodale, our poet laureate of the First Amendment."—Sidney Offit, Curator Emeritus George Polk Journalism Award
"James Goodale is a battle-scarred veteran of the great struggles for freedom of the press in the tumultuous 20th century. Here he has give us a powerful account of his experiences—experiences that shaped the way we live now."—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize American Lion: Andrew Jackson and the White House
"No one who cares about the First Amendment can afford not to read James Goodale's blow-by-blow insider's account of what happened behind-the-scenes at the New York Times before, during and after its decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. His insider's account combines indiscreet and significant revelations of the personal (and ideological) clashes between the outsized personalities at America's newspaper of record, with shrewd strategic legal and constitutional analysis and a passionate defense of First Amendment values."—Victor Navasky, The Nation
Related News Coverage
Huffington Post, Freedom of the Press and Criminal Solicitation, Geoffrey R. Stone, right, May 21, 2013. Several years ago, the FBI obtained a search warrant authorizing it to review two days' worth of Fox News reporter James Rosen's emails after demonstrating to a judge it had probable cause to believe that Rosen had committed a crime by soliciting the disclosure of classified information from a government official. The government official was later indicted for leaking classified information. Since this development came to light, members of the media have insisted that the assertion that Rosen violated the law by soliciting the disclosure of classified information is wholly incompatible with the First Amendment. It is more complicated than that.
At the outset, it is worth noting that two facets of this situation are clear. First, as a general rule, the First Amendment does not give government employees a constitutional right to disclose to reporters properly classified information. Second, except in truly extraordinary circumstances, the First Amendment does give the press a constitutional right to publish even properly classified information when that information comes into its hands through no wrongdoing of its own. In general, it is unlawful for one person to solicit another to commit a criminal act. But is Rosen, as a reporter, exempt from the ordinary law of criminal solicitation? Does the First Amendment give a reporter a constitutional right to do what other citizens have no right to do? The government in this situation has not filed any criminal charges against James Rosen, or suggested in any way that it plans to do so. It merely stated, quite accurately I suspect, that under current law he committed a crime.
Huffington Post, Bob Schieffer: Obama Press Policy 'Hurting His Credibility And Shortchanging The Public' (VIDEO), Rebecca Shapiro, May 27, 2013. CBS News' Bob Schieffer tore into President Obama on Sunday's "Face The Nation," arguing that the administration's stringent communications policy was "hurting [the president's] credibility and shortchanging the public." In light of two government scandals involving the Department of Justice secretly monitoring the Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen, Schieffer commented on additional ways the Obama administration's communications policy impacted journalism. He said:
It's reached the point that if I want to interview anyone in the administration on camera, from the lowest-level worker to a top White House official, I have to go through the White House press office.
If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment, as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode, then that's what we (and you, the taxpayer) get. And it usually isn't much.
Schieffer added that he was glad Obama asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review the guidelines for Justice Department investigations that involve journalists. However, the CBS anchor argued against the president's requesting Holder as the person heading the review since the attorney general's department was so "deeply involved." Schieffer said, "That makes no sense to me."
Washington Post, Leonard Downie: Obama’s war on leaks undermines investigative journalism, Leonard Downie Jr., left, May 23, 2103. Leonard Downie Jr. is a vice president at large of the Washington Post, where he served as executive editor from 1991 to 2008. He is professor of journalism at Arizona State University and a board member of the nonprofit Investigative Reporters and Editors. For the past five years, beginning with his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama has promised that his government would be the most open and transparent in American history. But the Obama administration’s steadily escalating war on leaks, the most militant I have seen since the Nixon administration, has disregarded the First Amendment and intimidated a growing number of government sources of information — most of which would not be classified — that is vital for journalists to hold leaders accountable. The White House has tightened its control over officials’ contacts with the news media, and federal agencies have increasingly denied Freedom of Information Act requests on the grounds of national security or protection of internal deliberations. The secret and far-reaching subpoena and seizure of two months of records for 20 Associated Press phone lines and switchboards — used by more than 100 AP reporters in three news bureaus and the House of Representatives — is especially chilling for journalists and their sources.
Washington Post, A knee-jerk circling of the media wagons, Walter Pincus, May 27, 2013. When will journalists take responsibility for what they do without circling the wagons and shouting that the First Amendment is under attack? I’m talking about the case of Fox News correspondent James Rosen.
Guardian, Obama's terrorism speech: seeing what you want to see, Glenn Greenwald, May 27, 2013. Some eager-to-believe progressives heralded the speech as a momentous change, but Obama's actions are often quite different than his rhetoric. What Obama has specialized in from the beginning of his presidency is putting pretty packaging on ugly and discredited policies. The cosmopolitan, intellectualized flavor of his advocacy makes coastal elites and blue state progressives instinctively confident in the Goodness of whatever he's selling, much as George W. Bush's swaggering, evangelical cowboy routine did for red state conservatives. The CIA presciently recognized this as a valuable asset back in 2008 when they correctly predicted that Obama's election would stem the tide of growing antiwar sentiment in western Europe by becoming the new, more attractive face of war, thereby converting hordes of his admirers from war opponents into war supporters.
Huffington Post, Eric Holder Signed Off On Search Warrant For James Rosen Emails: NBC News, Jack Mirkinson, May 23, 2013. Attorney General Eric Holder personally signed off on the warrant that allowed the Justice Department to search Fox News reporter James Rosen's personal email, NBC News' Michael Isikoff reported Thursday. The report places Holder at the center of one of the most controversial clashes between the press and the government in recent memory. The warrant he approved named Rosen as a "co-conspirator" in a leak investigation, causing many to warn that the Justice Department was potentially criminalizing journalism. The warrant also approved the tracking of Rosen's movements in and out of the State Department, as well as his communications with his source, Stephen Kim. The Justice Department later said that it did not intend to press any charges against Rosen. The attorney general is usually required to approve requests to search journalists' materials, but that rule does not extend to email records. Holder recused himself from the investigation into the Associated Press, meaning that he absolved himself of that responsibility. Holder has previously said that he was not sure how many times he had authorized the search of journalists' records.
Sparrow Project, Jeremy Hammond Pleads Guilty to Stratfor Leak, Faces Harsh Sentence for Online Protest, Administrator, May 28, 2013. In New York federal court, Internet activist Jeremy Hammond pleaded guilty to publicizing internal emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor through Wikileaks. Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir reads a m essage of solidarity to Jeremy Hammond outside of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Hammond pleaded guilty as part of a non-cooperating plea agreement to one violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which carries up to ten years in prison. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for September 6, 2013. He has been jailed for 15 months without bail at the Manhattan Correctional Center in New York City, has been denied family visits, and held for weeks in solitary confinement. “Jeremy has taken responsibility for what he’s done, but he should not face such a harsh sentence for an act of protest from which he did not personally benefit,” said Hammond’s twin brother, Jason Hammond. “I’m glad he’s moved one step closer to freedom but today I’m asking for the judge to consider a sentence appropriate to what is nothing other than a non-violent political protest.” Jason Hammond is circulating an online petition calling for Jeremy to be sentenced to time served and released. The Stratfor leak was carried out by the online activist group LulzSec, an off-shoot of Anonymous, with the participation of an FBI informant.
Talking Points Memo, In Memo To Employees, Ailes Blasts Obama Admin’s ‘Attempt To Intimidate Fox News,’ Tom Kludt, May 24, 2013. In a memo circulated to employees and posted Thursday on the network's website, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, right, excoriated the Obama administration's aggressive pursuit of leaks, saying it's created "a climate of press intimidation, unseen since the McCarthy era." But the memo was largely a call to action. Issuing a sharp rebuke of the government's surveillance of Fox reporter James Rosen, Ailes said that the Obama administration's "attempt to intimidate Fox News and its employees will not succeed and their excuses will stand neither the test of law, the test of decency, nor the test of time."
Washington Post, Obama calls for review of rules on subpoenas to the media, Sari Horwitz, May 23, 2013. President Obama instructed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday to review Justice Department guidelines for leak investigations, meet with media organizations and report back to him by mid-July. In a speech to the National Defense University, Obama addressed the uproar over his administration’s numerous leak investigations, saying he is “troubled” that the inquiries might “chill” investigative journalism. But he also emphasized that certain information must remain secret to protect national security.
FireDogLake, Obama Justice Department: Criminalizing the Press Like the Bush Administration, Kevin Gosztola Sunday May 26, 2013. Attorney General Eric Holder has claimed he has never been involved in the “potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material,” but the Justice Department under President Barack Obama has been more than willing to criminalize the press in order to enable or enhance the ability of the department to pursue leak investigations. Unsealed documents in the investigation into an alleged leak of “national defense information” on North Korea from State Department employee Stephen Kim to Fox News Reporter James Rosen in 2009 show the lengths the Justice Department has been willing to go. The government wanted to be able to read communications Rosen had with people in addition to Kim.
Guardian, Obama DOJ formally accuses journalist in leak case of committing crimes, Glenn Greenwald, May 20, 2013. Yet another serious escalation of the Obama administration's attacks on press freedoms emerges It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Nathan all prior administrations combined -- in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week's controversy over the DOJ's pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the news gathering process in general. New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ's attacks on press freedoms.
Wayne Madsen, “Obama uses national security excuse to cover up embarrassing information,” Wayne Madsen Report, May 22, 2013 (Subscription only). President Obama's Nixonian assault on the press is rooted in the mistaken belief that leaks of "national security" information can do great harm to the country's security. Therefore, Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder, a former District of Columbia judge who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and vetted by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, have brought the government's immense surveillance capabilities on reporters for the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Smoking Gun website, Fox News, and now, according to one of its Washington reporters, CBS News. According to insiders at the National Security Agency, WMR has been the subject of a secret grand jury probe, a National Security Letter, and subpoenas for phone and email records to determine the identities of our sources inside NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.
FireDogLake, AP Says Government Seizure Was Unconstitutional And Has Terrified Sources, DSWright, May 20, 2013. The CEO of the Associated Press said the government’s unprecedented actions to seize phone records of reporters from the news organization was both unconstitutional and has had a chilling effect on sources. The president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press on Sunday called the government’s secret seizure of two months of reporters’ phone records “unconstitutional” and said the news cooperative had not ruled out legal action against the Justice Department. Gary Pruitt, in his first television interviews since it was revealed the Justice Department subpoenaed phone records of AP reporters and editors, said the move already has had a chilling effect on journalism. Pruitt said the seizure has made sources less willing to talk to AP journalists and, in the long term, could limit Americans’ information from all news outlets. Was the point to terrify journalists and sources? Yes. Mr. Pruitt identifies the ultimate goal of using state power to intimidate the press. Pruitt told CBS’ ”Face the Nation” that the government has no business monitoring the AP’s news gathering activities.
Justice Integrity Project, Mr. Drake Goes To Washington, Andrew Kreig, March 21, 2013. Former National Security Agency executive Thomas Drake warned the public March 15 at the National Press Club against the federal government's crackdown on whistleblowers. Drake, who narrowly escaped life in prison for communicating with a Baltimore Sun reporter, said the government has the ability to make such conduct illegal retroactively. Regarding the larger issues, he asked, “How else will the press report the real news when their sources dry up and the government becomes a primary purveyor of its own news?” Drake's revelations and passion resembled James Stewart's iconic performance portrayed at left in "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" protesting corruption, including during a Senate filibuster. Yet Drake focused on dangers far more important than the 1939 film's portrayal of corruption in Congress.
Washington Post, Fine Print: The press and national security, Walter Pincus, May 20, 2013. Whoever provided the initial leak to the Associated Press in April 2012 not only broke the law but caused the abrupt end to a secret, joint U.S./Saudi/British operation in Yemen that offered valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. One goal was to get AQAP’s operational head, Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso. That happened one day before the AP story appeared. A second goal was to find and possibly kill AQAP bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Aspirin, whose first underwear device almost killed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism chief. Soon after, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab used such a device in a failed Christmas Day bombing attempt as his Northwest Airlines flight was landing in Detroit.
Washington Post, A rare peek into a Justice Department leak probe, Ann E. Marimow, May 19, 2013. When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material. They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit.They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails. The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.
Washington Post, Stewing in his own juices, Dana Milbank, May 31, 2013. Eric Holder is in a mess of his own making. Now House Republicans are talking about perjury, and it would seem that they have, well, probable cause. As a legal matter, this isn’t a worry for Holder. His Justice Department isn’t going to prosecute him for perjury, just as it didn’t prosecute him when lawmakers held him in contempt of Congress. But the controversy left Holder with a serious credibility problem at a time when many Republicans want him out and Democrats are not eager to defend the Obama administration’s intrusions into the First Amendment with its obsessive leak investigations. Holder managed to make the situation even worse this week when he arranged to have a series of meetings with news organizations but then decreed that the sessions would be off the record.
National Press Club, NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake criticizes government 'secrecy regime,' Sean Lyngaas, March 16, 2013. The government is going to great lengths to shut down leaks, according to Thomas Drake, a former senior executive turned whistleblower at the National Security Agency. “In our post-9/11 world, the government is increasingly in the ‘First Un-amendment’ business, engaged in a direct assault on free speech and the very foundation of our democracy,” Drake told a National Press Club luncheon audience on March 15. Drake was indicted in April, 2010, under the Espionage Act for allegedly providing classified information to the Baltimore Sun. He was eventually cleared of wrongdoing and now minces no words in warning of the perils of government secrecy. What Drake calls “the secrecy regime” -- the government protocols for securing a vast cache of classified documents - has created a “misunderstanding that if you happen to speak to a reporter…by definition, anything that you might say to them could be characterized as classified.” In a passionate plea for the sanctity of the First Amendment, Drake warned that journalists are being increasingly frozen out of government sources. “How else will the press report the real news when their sources dry up and the government becomes a primary purveyor of its own news?” he asked in one of many disturbing scenarios posed to the audience. He quoted George Orwell and John F. Kennedy to the same effect: It is a slippery slope from government secrecy to tyranny.
National Press Club, NPC Luncheon with Thomas Drake, March 15, 2013. Related Video: (63 minutes). Thomas Drake, a former Senior Executive at NSA who was charged under the espionage act after he blew the whistle on waste and fraud and illegal activity at the intelligence agency, spoke at a March 15, 2013 National Press Club luncheon. Drake's event was part of the club's celebration of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to underscore the importance of open government and freedom of information.
FireDogLake, NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake on the US Secrecy State as Predator of the First Amendment, Kevin Gosztola, March 17, 2013. National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake March 15 addressed the “long shadow of government secrecy” that increasingly “obscures the view of democracy in our constitutional republic or what’s left of it.” Video of the entire speech given during the luncheon appears at the top of the post. The speech focuses explicitly on free speech and the First Amendment. Drake, shown at right in a photo by Noel St. John, was indicted under the Espionage Act and threatened with the potential of serving the rest of his life in prison for exposing fraud, waste, abuse and illegality related to warrantless wiretapping by the NSA.
National Press Club, Club: Where Sunshine Happens, John M. Donnelly, March 8, 2013. The National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee has a full slate of activities planned for Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote a dialog on the importance of open government and freedom of information. This non-partisan, non-profit initiative is celebrated in mid-March each year to coincide with James Madison's birthday on March 16.
Justice Integrity Project, Press Probes 'Obama's War On Leaks, Andrew Kreig, May 2, 2012. The nation’s two leading press clubs convened experts on national security May 1 in Washington for a gripping, historically important assessment of the Obama administration’s shocking prosecutions of government news sources. The administration took office on promises to protect whistle-blowers. But it has since repeatedly cracked down on leakers, citing the Espionage Act in six recent cases as a basis for criminal prosecution. New York Times reporter James Risen, who has broken some of the most important national security stories of the decade, was one of the panelists at the National Press Club, which organized the forum at its headquarters in cooperation with the New York-based Overseas Press Club. Risen has undergone years of financially damaging federal investigation and potential imprisonment for refusing to reveal his government sources.sss
Justice Integrity Project, Whistleblowers Compare Harsh Reprisals from Bush, Obama, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 19, 2011. Who has been worse for whistleblowers and the public, the Bush or Obama administration? I posed that question and received different answers Sept.18 during meetings by watchdog groups in Washington, DC.
OpEd News, Whistleblower Says: Obama's DOJ Declares War on Whistleblowers, Justice Integrity Project, Jan. 10, 2011. Dana Jill Simpson, the Alabama attorney who stepped forward in 2007 to provide sworn evidence on how her fellow Republicans were framing Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges, today released a statement saying that President Obama's Department of Justice has declared a "war on whistleblowers."
Huffington Post, Rove Suspected In Swedish-U.S. Political Prosecution of WikiLeaks, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 19, 2010.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
FireDogLake, Penny Pritzker’s Financial Disclosure Off $80 Million, DSWright, May 23, 2013. President Obama’s nomination of Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary was already problematic. Pritkzer, at left with the president, is the epitome of the 1% – obscenely rich off of inherited wealth, hostile to workers, and someone who has advanced in politics by giving people money. She was a major campaign contributor and fundraiser for Obama, which clearly played a role in her being nominated for Commerce Secretary and would have likely lead to her having been nominated sooner for a post if not for her involvement in a protracted labor dispute. Pritzker has a lot of tax abnormalities involving offshore accounts. She inadvertently understated a portion of her income by at least $80 million in a disclosure form required for her nomination to be U.S. Commerce secretary and has amended the document. Pritzker earned additional income for consulting work on hundreds of trusts, including family trusts. Pritzker, whose family founded Hyatt Hotels Corp, earned $54 million in consulting fees last year for a similar restructuring of trusts based in the Bahamas, also over 10 years.
Washington Post, Obama approves drone briefings for Congress, Karen DeYoung and Peter Finn, May 22, 2013. President has approved classified briefings for Congress on overall policy and is scheduled today to speak about how counter terrorism standards will be more transparent.
Washington Post, On IRS issue, senior White House aides were focused on shielding Obama, Philip Rucker and Juliet Eilperin, May 22, 2013. As soon as White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler heard about an upcoming inspector general’s report on the Internal Revenue Service, she knew she had a problem. This account of how the White House tried to deal with the IRS inquiry — based on documents, public statements and interviews with multiple senior officials, including one directly involved in the discussions — shows how carefully Obama’s top aides were trying to shield him from any second-term scandal that might swamp his agenda or, worse, jeopardize his presidency.
Washington Post, Lois Lerner: ‘I have not done anything wrong,’ Video report, May 22, 2013. At a hearing of the House Oversight Committee Wednesday, IRS Director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner invoked her fifth amendment rights, saying she was innocent of any wrong doing.
Associated Press via Washington Post, Man killed in Fla. by FBI shares similar background to deceased Boston bombing suspect, Staff report, May 22, 2013. A Chechen immigrant shot to death in central Florida after an altercation with an FBI agent had several ties to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects who authorities were questioning him about at the time. Ibragim Todashev’s Chechen roots and mixed martial arts background mirror that of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston bombing suspect killed in a shootout with police last month. The two also had lived in the Boston area.
Legal Schnauzer, Schnauzer Climbs Out Of Rubble In Oklahoma City To Represent The Fight For Survival Amid Tragedy, Roger Shuler, May 22, 2013. (Video). A miniature schnauzer climbs from the rubble in Oklahoma City. When we started this blog in June 2007, the title was meant to honor Murphy Abigail Shuler, a wonderful miniature schnauzer who enriched our lives for 11 years -- and helped us survive the early years of our legal woes.