Monday, January 30, 2012

WMR: Obama administration has unprecedented assaults on press freedom

WMR has learned and has personally experienced the unprecedented assault by the Obama administration, aided and abetted by its intelligence and internal security infrastructure, on the First Amendment right of freedom of the press.

The Obama administration has indicted a total of six U.S. government employees with violating the arcane 1917 Espionage Act for allegedly communicating classified information to the press. 

The Obama administration, according to multi-agency U.S. government sources , has authorized the eavesdropping of journalists' e-mails, text messages, and phone calls to determine to whom they are in contact within the government, particularly in the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, the CIA, the U.S. Congress' intelligence oversight committees, and the National Security Agency (NSA). 

The NSA and FBI are also monitoring what websites are visited by government employees, including this one.

The six people charged under the Espionage Act with providing classified information to journalists (the "Obama Six") are:

  • John Kiriakou, former CIA, allegedly passed information on waterboarding torture tactics and the identity of a CIA torturer to someone identified by the government as "Journalist A." The chief government prosecutor is U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald, who WMR has identified as a cover-up prosecutor for the CIA ever since the days he suppressed critical intelligence in the trial of the "Blind Sheik," Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted for plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and later, when he failed to bring Espionage Act charges against Dick Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak case. Fitzgerald also prosecuted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to protect the CIA's one-time agent, Barack Obama, Jr., from scandal arising from Obama's political and social activities in Chicago.
  • Jeffrey Sterling, former CIA, charged with providing The New York Times' James Risen with classified information on Iran's nuclear program.
  • Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, charged with providing over a quarter million State Department classified and unclassified cables from the SIPRnet communication system to WikiLeaks.
  • Thomas Drake, former NSA official, charged with providing classified information to journalists, including former Baltimore Sun reporter Siobhan Gorman. The charges against Drake were later reduced.
  • Stephen Kim, former State Department contractor, charged with leaking classified information about North Korea to Fox News' James Rosen.
  • Shamai Leibowitz, former FBI Hebrew translator, convicted of leaking classified FBI wiretaps to a blogger on Israeli intelligence activities in the United States directed at stirring up war fever against Iran. As yet, Leibowitz has been the only person convicted under the Espionage Act for leaking information to the media. The government fast-tracked the Leibowitz trial in order to supress coverage of Israel's massive intelligence operations in the United States.
WMR knows of six other ex-employees of NSA and the State Department who continue to face criminal probes by the Obama administration for leaking information to the press.

Government employees face constant monitoring of their government emails, as well as their personal e-mail accounts for any contact with the press. 

The FBI, NSA, and other agencies are also monitoring the web sites visited by government employees. At the State Department, lists of web sites visited by employees are maintained by the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). DSS also maintains lists of charities to which State Department employees donate money.

WMR learned of one case where the U.S. Navy blocked access to the web for an employee who visited from a government computer. 

The employee was required to explain to the system security administrator why WMR was visited and cautioned that WMR is on a "banned" list for Navy employees. At NSA, employees have been ordered not to disseminate any articles from WMR on the agency's internal e-mail system or they will face disciplinary action and possible loss of security access and their jobs.

There are also increasing reports that journalists' e-mails are being monitored or completely blocked by the U.S. government agencies and cooperating Internet Service Providers (ISPs). WMR has recently experienced such a denial-of-service by America On-Line (AOL).

The increased harassment of journalist sources by the Obama administration comes at the same time that Reporters Without Borders has dropped the United States on the World Press Freedom Index to 47 from 20 on the press freedom ranking list. 

At 47, the United States is tied with Romania and Argentina and ranks below the Union of Comoros in the Indian Ocean; increasingly fascist-oriented Hungary; Papua New Guinea, which has experienced a military coup; Mali; Tanzania; Botswana; Suriname; Niger; and Cape Verde. 

In 2002, during the second year of the Bush administration, the United States was ranked at 17th.

copy provided by Wayne Madsen Reports

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