Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Obama’s authoritarian tendencies

with 3 comments

Some have expressed dismay at my disgruntlement with bad actions by the Obama Administration. I don’t like bad actions by my government, and I particularly do not like bad actions by a president who promised the opposite while campaigning and for whom I voted.

Take, for example, his determination to close down any non-official sources of information about what our government is doing—especially, it appears, when those sources reveal government misbehavior. And he promised the exact opposite, but he revealed early on that his promises were worthless. Take a look at this:

Last April, the DOJ served a subpoena on New York Times reporter James Risen, demanding to know his source for a story he published in his 2006 book regarding a “reckless” and horribly botched CIA effort to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.   That subpoena had originally been served but was then abandoned by the Bush DOJ, but its revitalization by the Obama administration was but one of many steps taken to dramatically expand the war on whistleblowers being waged by the current President, who ran on a platform of “protecting whistleblowers”:

Adicionar imagemThose pretty words have given way to the most aggressive crusade to expose, punish and silence “courageous and patriotic” whistleblowers by any President in decades.  As the Federation of American Scientists’ Steven Aftergood put it, “They’re going after this at every opportunity and with unmatched vigor.”  And last May, The New York Times described how “the Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks.”  This war has entailed multiple indictments and prosecutions of Bush-era leaks which exposed various degrees of corruption, ineptitude and illegality.  And, of course, the Obama administration’s preoccupation with destroying WikiLeaks — which has led it to boast of efforts to prosecute the group for publishing classified information (which other media outlets do every day), target WikiLeaks supporters with invasive harassment, and even subpoena the Twitter accounts of several WikiLeaks associates, including a sitting member of the Icelandic Parliament — has been well-documented.

But it’s the DOJ’s increasing willingness to target journalists as part of this crusade that has now escalated its seriousness.  Last month, the DOJ claimed it had found and arrested Risen’s source:  Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who left the agency in 2002 (he now works in the health insurance industry).  As part of Sterling’s criminal proceedings, it was revealed yesterday that federal investigators had secretly obtained Risen’s bank records, information about his phone and travel activities, and even credit reports to unearth his source:

Federal investigators trying to find out who leaked information about a CIA attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program obtained a New York Times reporter’s three private credit reports, examined his personal bank records and obtained information about his phone calls and travel, according to a new court filing.

The scope and intrusiveness of the government’s efforts to uncover reporter James Risen’s sources surfaced Thursday in the criminal case of James Sterling, a former CIA officer facing federal criminal charges for allegedly disclosing classified information. . . . The revelation alarmed First Amendment advocates, particularly in light of Justice Department rules requiring the attorney general to sign off on subpoenas directed to members of the media and on requests for their phone records.

First Amendment advocates said the Justice Department’s use of business records to find out about Risen’s sources was troubling. Those records, they argue, could potentially expose a wide array of Risen’s sources and confidential contacts — information that might fall beyond the initial investigation that led to Sterling’s indictment . . .

“To me, in many ways, it’s worse than a direct subpoena,” said Jane Kirtley, a University of Minnesota law professor and former director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Third-party subpoenas are really, really invidious. . . . Even if it is targeted, even if they’re trying to just look at the relevant stuff, they’re inevitably going to get material that exposes other things.”

Kirtley also said journalists often aren’t notified when

Continue reading. Am I wrong to feel that this is a very bad thing?

Written by LeisureGuy

25 February 2011 at 10:23 am

3 Responses

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  1. I voted for Obama and am profoundly disappointed by the vast gulf of difference between his campaign rhetoric and the actual actions of his leadership. The last straw was his sickening trillion dollar give away to the very rich in the form of unneeded tax breaks for the very same people who are doing their best to get rid of him in the next election, the very people who scream about government spending, but hey pay no attention to the trillion dollar tax-break added to the deficit, that’s somehow different and doesn’t count. Obama as it turns out is just another politician, albeit less evil than the dark GOP side.


    25 February 2011 at 11:54 am

  2. Exactly: The fact that I see Obama as bad (very bad) in some areas does not mean that I have joined the GOP. I am the same liberal Democrat as I was and that Obama pretended to be so that he could get elected.


    25 February 2011 at 12:49 pm

  3. Right, and to think that I’m going to have to hold my nose as I vote Obama again in 2012. I wish we had more choices, more viable parties.


    25 February 2011 at 2:17 pm

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