In a new report, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union issue dire warnings of "large-scale surveillance seriously hampering U.S.-based journalists and lawyers in their work." They describe an unhealthy media climate where journalists are forced take time consuming steps to protect their sources. Sources are now in mortal fear of talking, as aggressive prosecutions scare government officials into remaining silent, even about issues that are unclassified.
For lawyers, the threat of surveillance is stoking fears that will be unable to protect a client’s right to privacy. Alex Sinha, and Jeremy Scahill have authored a report entitled, "With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance Is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy”. Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, stated “that we sometimes feel like you’re operating like somebody in the Mafia. You’ve got to go around with a bag full of quarters and, if you can find a pay phone, use it, or use, throwaway burner phones. Journalists are made to feel like criminals”. A number of other reporters including, Jonathan Landay, national security reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, echoed Brian Ross sentiments.
In a determined effort to protect his source under threat of jail time, James Risen of the NYT has displayed enormous courage under fire and should be awarded the highest honor. Shame on Obama and Eric Holder for vilifying and bullying such an American hero. It is also time to demand that the Obama administration cease and desist its war on Whistleblowers.