A pall of fear hangs over American journalists, one that threatens to smother the feeble flame of investigative reporting and insulate government officials against any sort of accountability. The Obama regime is taking a hard line against "leakers," and their penchant for secrecy out-does even Richard Nixon at his most paranoid. This administration, which came to power on a pledge of greater "transparency," has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the terms of the draconian Espionage Act of 1917 than all other Presidents combined. And it doesn't stop there.
The Department of Justice is currently going after New York Times reporter James Risen for allegedly receiving classified information from former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling. Risen, who is refusing to testify in the case -- citing his right to keep his sources confidential -- is reportedly taking his appeal to the Supreme Court.
Obama's henchmen have not been shy about targeting the administration's perceived enemies in the Fourth Estate: they went after a Fox News reporter -- James Rosen, Fox's White House correspondent -- obtaining his phone records in their investigation of a rather insubstantial "leak." They also seized months of phone records from an entire battery of Associated Press reporters -- just as if the United States were some banana republic somewhere.
Which is precisely what we are becoming.
If you think that's a bit of an overstatement, think again: the one reporter most responsible for bringing the revelations of Edward Snowden to light and exposing the government's extensive spying apparatus is now in exile, prevented by the threat of legal action from returning to the United States.
I'm talking about Glenn Greenwald, the former lawyer-turned-blogger-turned-world-famous-journalist, whose incisive reporting on the story of how the National Security Agency has been spying on Americans' phone records, emails, and other online communications has roiled the Obama administration and started a fierce national debate over what kind of country we are -- and what kind of country we're turning into.
Combative, engaging, and amazingly articulate, Greenwald gave up a career in corporate law because it bored him -- and, in the early 1990s, dove into the online world. His blog, "Unclaimed Territory," soon became a must-read for the first generation of online muckrakers and insurgents who were challenging the legacy media (and having a lot of fun doing it). Here at Antiwar.com, we linked to his articles pretty regularly, and I happened to meet him at a conference put on by the Future of Freedom Foundation, where we were both speaking, some years ago.