Update 1/10/13: Freedom of the press threatened by government’s attack on whistle-blowers
During Bradley Manning’s pretrial hearing this week the government stepped up its war on whistle-blowers, arguing that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ should be levelled against anyone who shares classified material with journalists – even if to the New York Times. Judge Lind asked the prosecution if the charges against Manning would be the same if they swapped the New York Times in for WikiLeaks, and the prosecution was quick to answer “Yes.”
Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, writes that this argument threatens journalists and whistle-blowers alike,
“The scope of this statement is breathtaking and should alarm all journalists. It makes manifest something I’ve been saying for a long time with regard to the war on whistleblowers–that the Espionage Act will soon be used to go after journalists, just as it is being used to hammer sources.”
She emphasizes that “the line of reasoning that is emerging in Manning’s case will operate as a de facto restriction on political speech, which lies at the core of a free and democratic society” and she points to the work of a neoconservative writer, Gabe Schoenfeld, who has argued that the Espionage Act should be used to go after journalists. As far fetched as this seemed at the time, Radack argues that President Obama has done exactly that in his series of high profile prosecutions against government whistle-blowers. (Read more…)
The government gave “A Disturbing Warning for the Media at Bradley Manning Hearing” writes Greg Mitchell for the Nation. He highlights the Government’s argument that anyone who leaks classified information to a newspaper can and should be charged with ‘aiding the enemy’. He agrees with Radack that this is a chilling threat to journalism, and he looks at a number of responses to this from the mainstream media. (Read more…)
Glenn Greenwald rhetorically asks why Whitehouse sources that have leaked information to journalists are not on trial, in his article “Why are Bob Woodward’s WH sources – or Woodward himself – not on trial next to Bradley Manning?” Given that Bradley Manning had no intent to aid the enemy, the fact that the government is trying to charge him as having aided the enemy, means that anyone who exposes government malfeasance to a journalist can then be charged with aiding the enemy,
“The theory is that, even though it was not his intent, the information Manning disclosed may end up being of value to the terrorist organization: a claim that applies to virtually every leak of classified information to any media organization, thus transforming standard whistle-blowing into the equivalent of treason.”
He wonders why, given this significant attack on both whistleblowers and journalism, that there is so little interest or concern from mainstream media outlets. (Read more…)
Not only is the future of a heroic whistle-blower at stake, but so too is the freedom of the press.
Here are a few photos of the occupiers at the Freirn Barnet Library wishing Bradley Manning happy 25th birthday!