10 Oct 2013
A Grim Report on Press Freedom under Obama
Readers, you should check this out: “A Grim Report on Press Freedom under Obama,” by Zoë Carpenter.
Among the most egregious actions cited in the report for having a chilling effect on the press are the prosecution of eight government employees or contractors under the 1917 Espionage Act, more than twice as many as all previous administrations combined; the restriction of normal reporter-source relationships by aggressively pursuing leaks, using secret subpoenas and by implementing a program requiring federal employees to monitor one another for signs of unauthorized disclosures; hostility to press inquiries and reluctance to release information; and the use of the administration’s own internally-created media to bypass the press.
I’ve been saying it for years: Obama has been worse on civil liberties than George W. Bush was. I sure wish this weren’t the case, but basic intellectual honesty compels me to admit that it is, unfortunately.
This is another disturbing reminder of the fact that we are rapidly becoming a nation of authoritarians. There’s a nearly unanimous bipartisan consensus in Washington that total government surveillance is necessary and good, and a goal to be worked toward; and far too many American citizens are totally comfortable with an authoritarian surveillance state, as long as the government is in the hands of the political party we happen to identify with.
Libs and Dems were concerned about the erosion of civil liberties under George W. Bush, and rightfully so, but they’ve been unwilling to see a problem with it while Obama’s been in the White House. Conservatives and Republicans cheered for Bush’s erosions of civil liberties, then suddenly started shrieking about tyranny the day Obama took office.
What’s the basic problem here, readers? It’s this: since 9/11, America has become a nation of power-worshipping authoritarian cowards. God knows, I wish with all my heart that weren’t so, but it’s true, whether we like it or not. We all ultimately seem to agree that the President and the government can do anything they want, anything at all, to anybody in America and anybody in the rest of the world, as long it’s being done for “national security” and/or “fighting terrorism.” We’ve turned our police departments into paramilitary, shoot-first, machine-gun-toting cowboys. We’ve allowed the government to monitor all our communications. We’ve become such a bunch of goddamn cowards that we’re happy to give up our freedom, and all the things that have made America a truly great nation, as long as an authoritarian government keeps us safe from the scary Terrorists.