Despite growing concerns about the impact the policy is having on civil liberties and recent Justice Department guidelines promising to theoretically limit the number of anti-press probes, the Obama Administration’s hostile policy toward leakers remains intact, and the president’s determination to prosecute anyone and everyone he can continues to drive policy.
Though only getting close attention in recent months, the policy has been a constant throughout the administration, and one of the first things President Obama set his Director of National Intelligence on was looking into how the Bush Administration handled whistleblowers.
Obama was “shocked,” as were others, to learn that of 153 cases referred to the Justice Department in Bush’s second term, not a single one led to an indictment. Indeed, through Bush’s whole time in office only a single leak conviction was notched, against AIPAC leaker Lawrence Franklin.
Bush was said to be unwilling to engage in wholesale crack downs on journalists, fearing a political backlash. President Obama has shown no such compunction, and has eagerly claimed huge amounts of power to move against even potential leakers.
It is noteworthy, then, that President Obama’s administration has not only reneged on promises of transparency and engaged in a belligerent crusade against all whistleblowers, arguing their very existence is a threat to national security, but that the policy has proven so ridiculously ineffective. If hostility toward press leaks is a hallmark of the Obama Administration, it will also be remembered as the era when some of the largest such leaks in history have occurred.
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