Reporters Fear Obama

The “most transparent administration in history” has been putting those NSA phone records to use, against reporters — and whistleblowers. Even the Washington Post, normally a reliable water-carrier for the administration, has taken notice:

Even though they violated laws governing classified information, many of the leakers could be characterized as whistleblowers rather than spies; they publicized actions for which the government should be held accountable. But the Obama administration has drawn a dubious distinction between whistleblowing that reveals bureaucratic waste or fraud, and leaks to the news media about unexamined secret government policies and activities; it punishes the latter as espionage.
Every disclosure to the press of classified information now triggers a leak investigation, said Washington Post national news editor Cameron Barr. “Investigations can be done electronically. They don’t need to compel journalists to reveal sources.” The Post’s Justice Department reporter, Sari Horwitz, said a Justice official told her that “access to e-mail, phone records and cellphones make it easier to do now.”

After the New York Times published a 2012 story by David E. Sanger about covert cyberattacks by the United States and Israel against Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, federal prosecutors and the FBI questioned scores of officials throughout the government who were identified in computer analyses of phone, text and e-mail records as having contact with Sanger.

“A memo went out from the chief of staff a year ago to White House employees and the intelligence agencies that told people to freeze and retain any e-mail, and presumably phone logs, of communications with me,” Sanger said. As a result, longtime sources no longer talk to him. “They tell me: ‘David, I love you, but don’t e-mail me. Let’s don’t chat until this blows over.’ ”

Sanger, who has worked for the Times in Washington for two decades, said, “This is most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

The article also points out that Obama’s actions have effectively harmed information gathering all over the world, and reporters in other countries including England are having to be trained in defense against Obama. Their sources are drying up, since Obama has their phone records too — and the NSA does not even have to ask permission to get them.

There are other implications. Here is one at random: President Obama evidently reads (or has someone reading) the books by Mark Levin. Levin’s talk show (caustic but otherwise excellent) often has callers offering tidbits of information on an anonymous basis. Those callers are, of course, tracked by the NSA. Every contact, every email, every phone call is now up for grabs — if you are a political enemy of this administration.

As the article describes, the administration used records of phone calls to interrogate (and polygraph!) members of government who had been in contact with a reporter. People publicly opposed to this administration are regularly visited by IRS auditors. (You’d think, given the current sensitivity, they’d skip audits that continue to give the appearance of being tools. But no…)

Nixon once threatened to use the IRS against his political enemies.  (The IRS, whose leanings go the other way, weren’t interested.) But under this administration, the IRS has been going after conservatives in a big way, wholesale, and is evidently still doing so with impunity. The non-profit inspector that Obama put in place to oversee approvals had a long previous track record of going after conservative groups; evidently, that was what qualified Lois Lerner for this position.

Isn’t it sad? Obama’s statements, over and over as a candidate and as a newly minted president, were that he would open government, make legislation a visible, participative process, and make government fair and transparent. He has gone so very far in the other direction that it is breathtaking, even for some former supporters.

And his vengeance is swift and spiteful, as is being evidenced from the past week’s carefully selective shutdowns. Why is coming to remember fallen comrades a “First Amendment” activity? And why wouldn’t it be for anyone else?  Well, now we know: It gives the administration the lever to open up other venues for the theatrics they want, such as illegal immigration support.

Incidentally, while many government websites are shut down, Obama’s official promotional site linked above is apparently considered an “essential service.”

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle