Report: US Surveillance Harming Journalism, Law and Society
Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union released a report this week outlining the effect the US surveillance state is having on journalism, law and society. In particular, the two groups interviewed “50 journalists covering intelligence, national security, and law enforcement for outlets including the New York Times, the Associated Press, ABC, and NPR.”
Via Human Rights Watch:
[The report] documents how national security journalists and lawyers are adopting elaborate steps or otherwise modifying their practices to keep communications, sources, and other confidential information secure in light of revelations of unprecedented US government surveillance of electronic communications and transactions. The report finds that government surveillance and secrecy are undermining press freedom, the public’s right to information, and the right to counsel, all human rights essential to a healthy democracy…
…Surveillance has magnified existing concerns among journalists and their sources over the administration’s crackdown on leaks. The crackdown includes new restrictions on contact between intelligence officials and the media, an increase in leak prosecutions, and the Insider Threat Program, which requires federal officials to report one another for “suspicious” behavior that might betray an intention to leak information.
Journalists interviewed for the report said that surveillance intimidates sources, making them more hesitant to discuss even unclassified issues of public concern. The sources fear they could lose their security clearances, be fired, or – in the worst case – come under criminal investigation.
"People are increasingly scared to talk about anything," observed one Pulitzer Prize winner, including unclassified matters that are of legitimate public concern.
The report, With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy, can be downloaded here (PDF). The online Executive Summary is here.
Meantime, via The New York Times: “An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program.”
Image: Anonymous quote from a journalist interviewed for the report. Via Human Rights Watch.