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Ridiculous Timing: Obama Administration Responds To Spying On AP By Pushing Journalist Shield Law That Wouldn't Matter

from the oh-come-off-it dept

There was one odd side note in all of the attention last week to the DOJ spying on the AP under questionable circumstances. Right after being confronted about it, the Obama administration released some talking points about how they support a reintroduction of a reporter’s shield law. There have been various attempts to pass a special shield law for journalists for a few years now, though in the past it’s been blocked each time. Also, we’ve been fairly skeptical about the whole process, because different politicians always seek to carve out key parties, whether it’s bloggers or Wikileaks. Frankly, it’s always seemed to us that a shield law should protect acts of journalism. That is, it should apply to specific situations, rather than specific people.

In the past, the Obama administration has claimed to support such a shield law, but with serious limitations, such as not having that law apply when the administration decides (by itself) that it’s a matter that involves “significant” harm to national security. Given that Eric Holder has already argued that this case involved such a situation (even if the evidence suggests otherwise), it seems likely that any such shield law for journalists wouldn’t have mattered in the AP case. There may have been some procedural differences, but the end result would have likely been pretty much the same.

But, really, using this story as a nail to hang their support for a shield law seems pretty ridiculous. “Oh, yeah, you caught us spying on reporters — here’s a bill that we want that wouldn’t have stopped that, but if you’re really concerned about a pretend level of privacy for journalists and their sources, it’s something, sorta.”

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Comments on “Ridiculous Timing: Obama Administration Responds To Spying On AP By Pushing Journalist Shield Law That Wouldn't Matter”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Window dressing to conceal shift from payoffs to coercion.

My over-view: for decades now “journalists” have been paid off in a variety of ways — actual cash for stories, access to “unnamed sources” for inside tips, or embeds to cover the wars, all so long as slanted for propaganda — but NOW gov’t is switching over to brute force, telling all are under surveillance and that even normal questions can get you charged for espionage.

There’s so obviously an agenda behind the recent spate of “revelations” that even National Review has caught on:


“There?s really no reason for the press to suggest that the recent slew of scandals involving the Obama administration ? Benghazi, the AP phone-record seizure, the snooping in James Rosen?s e-mail, the IRS?s targeting of conservative groups, and so on ? are a confusing jumble. There is a very clear thread running through all of the administration?s actions:”

Digdug (profile) says:

Re: Window dressing to conceal shift from payoffs to coercion.

Are you saying all journalists are soulless sell-outs or just some of them? If it’s the latter I’ll agree to that. If it’s the former I’m afraid we part ways. Like any group of people, there’s the bad ones, the good ones, and the ones in between just trying not to get stepped on.

Zakida Paul (profile) says:

Re: Re: Window dressing to conceal shift from payoffs to coercion.

Come on, it’s OOTB. All he does is post blanket attacks on groups of people.

All rich people are criminals
All corporations are corrupt
All torrent users are pirates
All Techdirt readers and writers are freetards

I would expect nothing less than him believing all journalists are evil and soulless.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Window dressing to conceal shift from payoffs to coercion.

To paraphrase out_of_the_blue himself: “your problem is that you refuse to generalize.”

Blue actually believes that generalizing gives us the right answer. Nuance is non-existent. You can’t try things on a case by case basis. Rich people are bad because being rich makes them bad. Anyone who says “some rich people are bad” is an idiot for even considering the possibility of the existence of a non-bad rich person.

It’s the same for everything. He probably doesn’t like food, or likes all food. Because “some food is bad” wouldn’t be generalizing, and blue won’t accept anything except blanket statements and generalizing.

Wally (profile) says:

Mike, is there anything in that Press Shield bill that actually protects you as a journalist? I mean let’s face it, you guys are getting the same treatment your constituents did in the Nixon years.

This is left field off at first: As for your skepticism about the Obama Administration’s sincerity, I don’t blame you one bit because this same administration knew about the IRS scandal as early as this year’s tax day.

GrrlGeek1972 (profile) says:

Leakers and the government

I firmly support the Press as a brake on the government. Having said that, I have serious concerns about this case, along with the Fox “News” reporter and his leak concerning the North Koreans.

Both of these cases caused it to become known that we had human intelligence sources inside regimes/organizations that are REALLY REALLY hard to get inside sources to penetrate. North Korea and Al Queda are paranoid, insular, and really nasty. Getting a double agent into either of them is something I would consider important.

So, while it is the nature of governments to cover their asses by over-classifying anything that would embarrass them, sometimes there really is a really good reason NOT to leak something.

How do we draw the line?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Leakers and the government

Well, here’s the line…when a member of the presidential administration messes up…that stuff should NEVER be classified. Scandal cover ups should never happen. As for your double agent scenario, that’s not what the current administrator is going after said Reporter for…the administration is going after him for reporting something we had every right to know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Leakers and the government

USA has a 2-party system. Why not use its inherrent possibilities? When a case is ready for review, let the opposition party take a look at how they feel about it and decide if it is something problematic to national security.

Since non of the parties are puritan in this field, it would of course still result in bypartisan screwups or opposition caused screwups being hidden, but it is less likely to be the case thab a current administrations faux pas.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Leakers and the government

There are certain parties that think Randolph Hearst, with the aid of his vast news empire, manufactured the Spanish American War. Now that is something that Holder and crew could get their teeth into. Instead let’s just beat down actual journalistic endevour.

But the US of A has never really been into bringing those that cause an unjust war to bare for their actions. Hell, Bush and his entire crew were given a pass on that one, when it was pretty obvious that, with the help of bad intelligence, they manufactured the war in Iraq.

Anonymous Coward says:

This administration has been doing it’s best to control what appears in the news and how it is presented. There’s a whole series of ‘incidents’ where White House news reporters were taken off the news staff for writing unflattering articles or asking difficult questions. There’s another series of reports of reporters being badgered and cussed after an article went out in the news the next day. There’s also been complaints about how little the White House news staff can actually access the president and ask questions. At the same time, the White House has been bypassing the traditional media for doing their own releases without the news media so that it is highly controlled to what is put before the public.

The whole point of the above, as well as the use of the spy laws to prosecute whistle blowers, and the level of secrecy involved with FOI requests shows this administration is hell bent on hiding what ever they are doing. Even to the point of making legal theory of what they think the laws says, not what it reads to say, and then claiming that theory to be a national secret that can’t be told.

When was the last time you were expected to obey laws you don’t know about and can’t be told about?

Something seriously stinks.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

This is all due to the fact that morons re-elected a president who doesn’t respect the constitution. Obama simply thinks that only government has constitutional rights and that if you’re someone they don’t like, you don’t get constitutional rights.

The U.S. Constitution has been under attack a lot more since Obama took office. I hate to say but when the Departmenty of Justice has been the single department that has been singling out everyone in this country, then there’s a serious breakdown. And I seem to recall someone stating that Obama is very familiar with constitutional law.

The man is a moron. I’m just waiting because things are reaching a boiling point where Americans aren’t going to take these attacks lying down any longer. Our country is simply under attack by Democrats and Republicans.

The constitution should never be interpreted by politicians. That’s something that should be left up to the courts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wikileaks actually did publish information that should have been classified. The FoxNews reporter in the article that was investigated was reporting on North Korea’s missile launches….which means the Obama Administration is becoming just as paranoid as the Nixon Administration.

Kiwini says:

The President and his cronies tried the same sort of maneuvers with new sweeping firearms laws after Sandy Hook, none of which would have prevented that tragedy. Obama sees any crisis as a distraction and/or an opportunity to shove through his party’s choices of legislation while it’s momentarily empowered by emotion.

“When was the last time you were expected to obey laws you don’t know about and can’t be told about?”.

Well, how about that infamous quote when Miz Pelosi told us that “we have to pass the law in order to find out what’s IN the law”.

The more that we find out about the so-called Affordable Health Act, the more it becomes evident that we can’t afford it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Serial masturbating is not only normal, but healthy and suggested by many doctors.

Please don’t throw such comments around as insults, it is outdated and even possibly damaging to developing youths that may make the wrong connections early in life and end up with cancer of the testis thinking that regular masturbation is bad.

~~~~~ The more you know!~~~~~

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