Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Government Assault on Journalism

Greenwald has an interesting piece on how the Justice Department is looking to prosecute Julian Assange for publishing classified information and how this threatens the fundamental tenets of modern journalism. He makes some real good points:

Indeed, Bob Woodward's whole purpose in life at this point is to cajole, pressure and even manipulate government officials to disclose classified information to him for him to publish in his books, which he routinely does.  Does that make him a criminal "conspirator"?  Under the DOJ's theory, it would.  All of this underscores one unavoidable fact:  there is no way to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks without criminalizing journalism because WikiLeaks is engaged in pure journalistic acts:  uncovering and publicizing the secret conduct of the world's most powerful factions.  It is that conduct -- and not any supposed crime -- which explains why the DOJ is so desperate to prosecute.
In fact, one wonders if Bob Woodward is the last of his kind--the last journalist able to use leaks without serving prison time.