Leading the day in the world of open government is a mammoth report from the Committee to Protect Journalists on the Obama administration and the press, by Leonard Downie Jr., with reporting by Sara Rafsky.
Much of this won’t be new to those who have been tracking secrecy, over-classification, prosecution of whistleblowers and selective disclosure of favorable information using new media and leaks — all core open government issues — but this pulls together those issues into a coherent whole. Abstract:
“U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists.”
While I find prosecution of whistleblowers, insider threats and the aggressive surveillance of journalists investigating national security and the surveillance state (meta!) to be particularly problematic, there are also significant issues around FOIA compliance and access to officials.
“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” writes Downie
As press freedom goes, so to does open government and democracy. I’ll be making this point strongly in London in a few weeks.
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