Clapper's Intel 'Gag Order' an Assault on Press Freedoms: Critics

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has signed an order deisgned to further wall off the public’s access to the work being done at the nation’s various intelligence services by banning all “unauthorized” contact betweens agency officials and journalists and making violations of the new orders punishable by termination or even prosecution.

As the Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman reports:

The Obama administration has been well-chastized for its pattern of secrecy, limiting press access, and for aggressively targeting government whistleblowers.

Reuters columnist Jack Shafer calls the new rules, offically laid out in Clapper’s Directive 119, nothing more than a “stupid press gag order” that will do more harm than good. He writes:

As critics cited by Ackerman note, this latest directive will hamper those intelligence officials who want to speak candidly with the press or disclose internal dissention that may conflict with official statements.

According to Steven Aftergood, an intelligence analyst with the Federation of American Scientists: “The new policy will make it harder for reporters to discover and to report facts and opinions that are at odds with the official line.”

He added: “Some of the best reporting on the lead-up to the Iraq war described dissenting views about the state of Iraq’s nuclear program. Those kinds of ‘unauthorized’ perspectives are going to be tougher to find and to present to the public.”

And independent journalist Kevin Gosztola, writing at FireDogLake, says Clapper’s new order should be seen for what it truly is: “An effort to force employees to be silent about what is happening in the workplace and let the spin doctors in public affairs offices do all the talking.”

He continues:


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