In Sunday's New York Times, columnist Maureen Dowd interviews James Risen, the Grey Lady's Pulitzer Prize winning, Washington bureau reporter.
For six years the Obama administration has harassed, threatened, abused and stalked Risen in an attempt to force him to reveal his confidential source on a story, Dowd writes, "concerning a bungled C.I.A. operation during the Clinton administration in which agents might have inadvertently helped Iran develop its nuclear weapon program... The tale made the C.I.A. look silly, which may have been more of a sore point than a threat to national security."
That hasn't stopped activist Justice Department head, Eric Holder, from invoking the Espionage Act in his pursuit of Risen. Holder says if Risen won't give up his source, thereby renouncing the sacrosanct "reporter privilege," then the former will throw the latter in jail.
Dowd wonders, "How can he use the Espionage Act to throw reporters and whistle-blowers in jail even as he defends the intelligence operatives who 'tortured some folks,' and coddles his C.I.A. chief, John Brennan, who spied on the Senate and then lied to the senators he spied on about it?"
It's even more perplexing when you consider the lip-service that Holder and Obama paid to press-freedom in the recent arrest of reporters covering race riots in Ferguson, Mo. Said Obama: "here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground."
Echoes Holder, ""journalists must not be harassed or prevented from covering a story that needs to be told."
It sounds good. But actions speak louder than words. And, as Risen says, with the spying, the intimidation, the strong-arming, the secret programs, the war on whistleblowers, and the threats, Obama has affirmed himself as "the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation."