Scott Horton in Harpers:
...candidate Barack Obama promised to protect whistleblowers who come forward with information disclosing government waste, abuse, and inefficiency. Unfortunately, President Obama has done exactly the opposite...
but with Audacity and Hype... and sneakiness:
...Covertly obtaining and then digging through the phone, banking, and travel records of journalists is about as extreme a step as can be taken in trying to detect and punish whistleblowers. By itself, the chilling effect on a free press is substantial and obvious -- what whistleblowers would speak to reporters if they know their most private records can be so easily invaded by the Government? -- and the invasion of privacy which a journalist has to endure for doing his job is immense.
But what makes this conduct particularly indefensible is how the Obama DOJ is venturing back into the past to dredge up these forgotten episodes. Sterling hasn't worked for the Government or had a security clearance in more than 8 years. The alleged leak took place in Bush's first term. Disclosure resulted in substantial embarrassment for the U.S. but -- given the utter failure of the operation -- no identifiable national security harm.
For a President who insists that we must "Look Forward, Not Backward" -- when it comes to investigating war crimes by high-level Bush officials -- this anti-whistleblower assault reflects not only an obsession on preserving and bolstering the National Security State's secrecy regime, but also an intense fixation on the past. And increasingly extremist weapons -- now including trolling through reporters' banking and phone records -- are being wielded to achieve it. As Thomas Jefferson warned long ago: "Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions."
Somehow this keeps surprising people, which one supposes is a good thing, because otherwise there would be no notice.