The Orwellian Presidency

The news on NPR piqued my curiosity this past week.

A large number of journalists have unleashed a scathing attack on the White House’s practice of censoring news-stories and  media coverage, limiting access to only his top officials and overall. Thirty-eight prominent journalists charge that the Obama presidency routinely suppresses the freedom of speech that defines one of the most important American values enshrined in the United States’ Constitution.

We would expect Richard Nixon to behave this way, but Barak Obama? What’s wrong with this picture? The Society of Professional Journalists, said “efforts by government officials to stifle or block coverage has grown for years and reached a high-point under his administration despite Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to provide transparency.”

In a letter signed by these journalists, they listed several examples of censorship and efforts to block reporter access. Among them:

  • Officials blocking reporters’ requests to talk to specific staff people.
  •  Excessive delays in answering interview requests that stretch past reporters’ deadlines.
  • Officials conveying information “on background” — refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who is speaking.
  • Federal agencies blackballing reporters who write critically of them.

The letter further asserts:

  • In many cases, this is clearly being done to control what information journalists — and the audience they serve — have access to. A survey found 40 percent of public affairs officers admitted they blocked certain reporters because they did not like what they wrote,” added the letter.[1]

Now, there is a lot that the journalists did not say in the letter that should have been said for the world to hear and remember. Let us turn the clock back to 2008, when President Obama made this point of one his most important promises during his political campaign:

  • Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

Hindu theology teaches us that we live in a world of maya, “illusion,” where things are not always what they appear to be. This is especially the case with politics, where illusion is the only reality.

After Obama won his election, President Obama has distinguished  himself as the most aggressive President ever in attacking whistleblowers and bringing the full weight of the law down on them. In fact, in 2012, rather than promote protecting whistleblowers in his campaign, the campaign bragged about how it cracked down on whistleblowers:

The ghost of Richard Nixon must be green with envy for President Obama has done more than any other administration to forcefully and legally harass through the offices of Eric Holder, the Attorney General who pursued and threatened to prosecute anyone who allegedly leaked  classified national security information…. The Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many cases under the Espionage Act as all other administrations combined. Under the President, the Justice Department has prosecuted six cases regarding national security leaks. Before he took office, federal prosecutors had used the Espionage Act in only three cases.[2]

One of the great American whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg wrote regarding Edward Snowden, made the following statement in his blog:

  • Snowden is the quintessential American whistleblower, and a personal hero of mine, Leaks are the lifeblood of the republic and, for the first time, the American public has been given the chance to debate democratically the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. Accountability journalism can’t be done without the courageous acts exemplified by Snowden, and we need more like him. . . . The secrecy system in this country is broken. No one is punished for using secrecy to conceal dangerous policies, lies, or crimes, yet concerned employees who wish to inform the American public about what the government is doing under their name are treated as spies. Our ‘accountability’ mechanisms are a one-sided secret court, which acts as a rubber stamp, and a Congressional ‘oversight’ committee, which has turned into the NSA’s public relations firm. Edward Snowden had no choice but to go to the press with information. Far from a crime, Snowden’s disclosures are a true constitutional moment, where the press has held the government to account using the First Amendment, when the other branches refused.[3]

Yet, he continues to be hounded by the Obama Administration.

Three days ago, Reuters News reported a news-story, a Russian MP claims that the US kidnapped his son from the Maldives on bogus cyber-fraud charges and may be preparing to offer him as bait in a swap deal for Edward Snowden. Roman Seleznyov, 30, was arrested at Male international airport as he was about to board a flight to Moscow. He was forced by US secret service agents to board a private plane to Guam and was later arrested. The Russian ministry slammed his detention as “a de-facto kidnapping.” Moscow considers the kidnapping “a new hostile move by Washington,” and accused the US of ignoring proper procedure in dealing with foreign nationals suspected of crimes. “The same happened to Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who were forced to go to the US from third countries and convicted on dubious charges.”[4]

Without missing a heartbeat, the assault on our freedom of privacy and speech continues to expand its tentacles across our country while Americans are asleep at the wheel.

When you consider the NSA’s program to spy on every American, what you have is the makings of an Orwellian State.

Courtesy of President Barak Obama




One thought on “The Orwellian Presidency

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *