Editorial: Back Off

Obama administration needs to stop harassing reporters 11/04/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

The Obama Administration needs to get serious about
not harassing reporters for doing their jobs. That includes not pursuing them as accessories to espionage,
or wholesale monitoring of their
phone records. Investigative reporters
should not be treated as criminals when
they report classified information from
sources. Collecting journalists’ phone
records to try to find leakers shouldn’t
be standard operating procedure.

The more we learn about government
surveillance via the Snowden storm of
revelations, the more concerned we get
about the lengths to which the government
will go to pursue leakers, which is
of course ironic, considering those revelations
are the product of leaks.

The White House has made the right
noises about revising Justice Department
guidelines. But that’s no consolation to
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who
complained about having her phone
monitored. President Obama said the
U.S. wasn’t monitoring her and wouldn’t
monitor her…without saying we hadn’t.
Further allegations came by way of more
Snowden leaks — that some three-dozen
world leaders, allies and not-so-much allies,
had also been monitored.

One journalist, polled in a study conducted
by the Committee to Protect
Journalists about the administration’s
relationship with the press, said that of
the last seven presidents, Obama is the
least transparent in daily White House
business. And that citation comes from
ABC News White House correspondent
Ann Compton, who has covered them
all. Another said this is the most aggressive
White House in controlling information
since Nixon’s. That’s the kind of
company you don’t want to keep.

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VR 20/20

The Times Center, New York, NY