At the start of his February 22 press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offered a tribute to deceased reporters Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlik, and Anthony Shadid, all of whom had given their lives, he said, “in order to bring the truth about what’s happening in a country like Syria to those of us at home and in countries around the world.”
That got ABC News’ Jake Tapper thinking. Carney was not the first Obama administration figure to praise journalists for putting their lives on the line to expose oppression in foreign countries. Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, had also issued a statement lauding Shadid for reporting “at extraordinary personal risk.” The very same administration, however, seems bound and determined to prevent anyone from reporting on abuses by the U.S. government, vigorously prosecuting — or at the very least persecuting — those blowing the whistle on such abuses.
When he got a chance to speak, Tapper remarked on the administration’s repeated praise for journalists in foreign countries. Then he hit Carney with the $64,000 question: “How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court?”
Tapper reminded Carney that the administration had invoked the Espionage Act of 1917 for the sixth time — double the number of times all previous administrations combined had invoked it — to prosecute a whistleblower: former CIA agent John Kiriakou, accused of leaking information about CIA torture of a terrorist suspect. “Certainly,” Tapper added, “that’s something that’s in the public interest of the United States.”
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