American politics has entered a truly surreal phase. For once, liberals and conservatives are united in their anger over the DOJ’s surveillance of the Associated Press and investigation of FOX News reporter James Rosen, and rightly so. In addition, as Glenn Greenwald points out in his latest New York Times editorial, “The administration of Barack Obama has prosecuted more accused leakers under "espionage" statutes than all prior administrations combined -- in fact, double the number of all prior such prosecutions.”
The same Obama who talked about greater transparency in government during his first campaign for President is now employing Soviet style suppression tactics to make sure the only news that’s reported is government approved. This goes way beyond fighting terrorism. It is a blatant program to intimidate critics and punish those reporters who dare challenge the administration’s policies.
To reiterate a point I’ve made before, it was the post 9/11 Bush administration that opened the Pandora’s Box of executive prerogative in the name of fighting terrorism that has led to the abuses we are seeing today in Washington. Instead of repudiating and rescinding Bush’s blatant overreach of Presidential power, Obama has embraced it, expanded on it and taken it to new levels of secrecy and persecution.
We can’t call ourselves a democracy under these circumstances. If we don’t allow our press to speak truth to power, we are no better than any other totalitarian regime.
Unless Obama makes some drastic changes to the laws governing the surveillance and treatment of reporters and whistleblowers, we will continue slipping into a very dark and surreal episode in American history where the truth is the enemy and freedom a distant memory.