Obama Administration’s War on Whistleblowers Erodes US Ranking in the World Press Freedom Index

The increasing erosion of our First Amendment freedom of the press in the name of ‘national security’ caused the United States’ ranking in the World Press Freedom Index to plummet to 46th out of 180 countries. The Obama Administration’s unparalleled suppression of national security whistleblowers and the journalists reporting information leaked by these whistleblowers contributed to the United States’ decline, which is explained as follows by Reporters Without Borders (the publisher of the World Press Freedom Index):

Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result. This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private [Chelsea] Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest. US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a “shield law” to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government….Both the US and UK authorities seem obsessed with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy, a democratic value cherished in both countries.

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