Search News from Limbo

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reporter a victim
of dirty 'secret'

N.Y. Times reporter James Risen is being hounded by the feds because he did not "play the game," and published "national security" stories without their permission.

(If link fails, copy and paste it into browser bar.)

And the Times won't defend him for reporting not done under its auspices.

It is a little-noticed fact that the large corporate media have been submitting -- without saying so explicitly -- to censorship for years, ever since President Reagan's CIA chief, William Casey, announced that editors and reporters could be prosecuted for disclosure of official secrets under the World War I Espionage Act. Even before then, cozy media relations with the intelligence system date to early in the Cold War.

In order to avoid criminal sanctions, editors "negotiate" with federal officials when a news outlet has an important story concerning state secrets. Hence, the editors are legally protected to some extent on grounds that officials, perhaps grudgingly, have de facto declassified certain information with implied consent. On the other hand, when those officials resist disclosure, there is compliance by editors.

A few examples:

Location of the CIA's secret prisons, in a story by Dana Priest, was suppressed by the Washington Post at the request of the government; President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program, revealed by Risen, was suppressed for a year at the urging of the White House; his report on a botched CIA operation in which a U.S. operative reportedly handed over U.S. nuclear secrets was also suppressed by the Times at the urging of the government. 

The Times only felt safe in publishing the Risen wiretapping story when it knew he was about to scoop them in his book.

Such a system is easily abused. Bush didn't have to worry about the Risen story during his re-election campaign. Citizens of other countries were denied information needed to ensure that their democracies were properly functioning.

In every case where a vendetta is being pursued against someone practicing journalism, the target had not played the game with the White House and the securocrats. The White House, for example, raised no objection when it learned that British officials were to seize electronic equipment in transit sent by Glenn Greenwald, at the time a reporter for the Guardian, which publishes a U.S. edition.  Greenwald, who has condemned the Washington "negotiation" game, pressured the Guardian to publish his first NSA story without a long period of negotiation, which iit did.

The Espionage Act is being invoked as a reason to force Risen to disclose his source or sources in the botched CIA operation. But what of accountability for the bizarre handling of nuclear secrets by the agency?

No comments:

Post a Comment