Monday, May 27, 2013

Obama 'worse than Nixon' for press freedoms

President Barack Obama is the biggest threat to press freedom, one of the hallmarks of a true democracy, the United States has seen since former President Nixon, according to attorney James Goodale, widely seen as “the father of reporters' privileges.”

Goodale is best known for using the First Amendment of the US Constitution to successfully defend the New York Times after the paper published the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The documents, leaked by Defense Department employee Daniel Ellsberg, revealed that four presidents had deliberately misled US citizens regarding the countries’ intentions in Vietnam. The Nixon administration sought to block the publication of the documents, citing national security and the Espionage Act. 

The case is especially relevant today as the Obama administration seeks to punish WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing diplomatic cables leaked by US Army soldier Bradley Manning. The New York Times, the Guardian, and other outlets would also go on to publish the same information revealed by Manning but have not been targeted for punishment by the government prosecutors.

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