Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth -

US criminalising real journalism

There are many reasons to be greatly disturbed about the way the US has become a Stasi-style surveillance state. This Glenn Greenwald article highlights a new depth plumbed by the Obama Administration.

As with the AP case last week, US officials, it is revealed, secretly read the emails of a journalist, Fox News’ James Rosen. But now it emerges that they are seeking to make Rosen a co-conspirator in an already-outrageous legal case they are pursuing against an ex-CIA official. In effect, they are seeking to criminalise investigative journalism.

As Greenwald points out, the case against Rosen is exactly the one Julian Assange’s supporters fear will be used against him should the US get their hands on him.

It’s worth reading the whole article but here are some pertinent passages. Greenwald:

Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ – that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for “soliciting” the disclosure of classified information – is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.

That same “solicitation” theory, as the New York Times reported back in 2011, is the one the Obama DOJ has been using to justify its ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: that because Assange solicited or encouraged Manning to leak classified information, the US government can “charge [Assange] as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.” …

That’s what always made the establishment media’s silence (or even support) in the face of the criminal investigation of WikiLeaks so remarkable: it was so obvious from the start that the theories used there could easily be exploited to criminalize the acts of mainstream journalists.

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