The Obama administration’s moves to curb journalists’ access to government information are unprecedented, according to a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists reviewed by McClatchy DC Thursday.
President Obama’s White House has aggressively pursued leakers of government information, prosecuting six government employees and two government contractors on felony criminal charges under the 1917 Espionage Act since it took office, according to the report.
That compares to just three such prosecutions made in the history of the country before Obama, the report notes.
The administration has also launched an internal surveillance program to stop people from talking to reporters, investigated an unprecedented number of journalists, and limited the use of the Freedom of Information Act which allows journalists to retreive government documents, according to the report.
The report’s author calls the Obama administration’s aggressive attempts to silence leakers the most extreme since President Richard Nixon.
“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” said report author Leonard Downie Jr., who was an editor at The Washington Post when it investigated the Watergate scandal under Nixon.
“This is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered,” David E. Sanger, veteran chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times, was quoted as saying in the report.