Secrecy & Leaks

Critical Thoughts on New Report on Obama Leak Crackdown

By Jack Goldsmith
Thursday, October 10, 2013, 2:51 PM

Today the Committee to Protect Journalists published a very critical report on the Obama administration’s efforts to crack down on leakers and control the flow of secret information from government officials to the press.  “The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate,” wrote Leonard Downie Jr., the author of the report.

Over at Security States I have a skeptical reaction to the report, the gist of which is this:

Downie is undoubtedly correct to conclude that Obama administration policies have chilled government officials from talking to the press, and thus has made it harder for journalists to figure out and report on what the government is doing. But by focusing on this narrow issue that is of great concern to journalists, Downie misses the bigger story: Changes in technology and norms related to the secrecy system have swamped the government’s efforts to control information, with the result that, at least in the national security area, secrets are harder than ever for the government to keep.