Sessions threatens to rope media into his hunt for leakers

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is threatening to revise longstanding Justice Department policy giving leeway to the press. Though he justified his tightening of the screws by saying it is to protect “our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, the armed forces, and all law abiding Americans,” the event that prompted his remarks — the leaking of President Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders — was merely embarrassing due to Trump’s own behavior.

“No one is entitled to surreptitiously fight their battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information,” Sessions said. “No government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or to talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders.”

Jeff Sessions on leaks (Getty pix)

Why? Isn’t Trump representing the citizens of this country? Shouldn’t they know how good a job he is doing, or not?

Many police departments are requiring cops to wear body cams this days — not to catch them being abusive, but to protect them from false accusations. Perhaps, the president and members of Congress should wear body cams while on duty and everyone would know everything is on the record, out front, subject to scrutiny.

Sessions said his agency is “reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas. We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity.”

Lives at risk when Trump tells Mexico’s leader he shouldn’t say he will not pay for the wall? In fact, that too involved the media. He told Mexican President ­Enrique Peña Nieto, “You cannot say that to the press.”

The Justice Department policy currently states:

Because freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of members of the news media to investigate and report the news, the Department’s policy is intended to provide protection to members of the news media from certain law enforcement tools, whether criminal or civil, that might unreasonably impair newsgathering activities. …

In determining whether to seek information from, or records of, members of the news media, the approach in every instance must be to strike the proper balance among several vital interests: Protecting national security, ensuring public safety, promoting effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice, and safeguarding the essential role of the free press in fostering government accountability and an open society.

It is not carte blanche. It is a balance. But this policy has frequently been skirted or roundly ignored.

But apparently a supersensitive Trump is tipping the balance.

Been there, done that.

In 2009 the feds subpoenaed the Las Vegas newspaper for information about commenters on one of its stories. Some of the comments suggested violence might be visited upon certain feds involved in a high-profile criminal case. The paper resisted the fishing expedition, but conceded when the request was narrowed to a couple of people.

“We will give them what we have, which frankly isn’t much, since most postings are anonymous,” I said at the time.

I also said, “I’d hate to be the guy who refused to tell the feds (Timothy) McVeigh was buying fertilizer” used to make the bomb that blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Sessions concluded, “Finally, here is what I want to tell every American today: This nation must end the culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice. We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer.”
Just because something is classified doesn’t mean it is to protect national security. Too often it is keep it from the prying eyes of voters. Think: Pentagon Papers and NSA spying.

 

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14 comments on “Sessions threatens to rope media into his hunt for leakers

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    If the “press” actually did what they used to do, report facts, I would be concerned about this.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    Sessions is so used to speaking in his genteel southern gentleman manner, he sounds foolish barking these threats, Boss Hogg he isn’t. It’s obvious he’s doing this to save his job, digging himself out from under the Mueller investigation farce, he’d much rather continue his mollifying ways with that friend BS they use in the Senate. Sessions met with Russians himself, I hope Mueller calls him as a witness to explain that.

  3. Barbara says:

    Freedom of the press was never meant to apply to extensions of the DNC which is what the national press core has become. No not every reporter, but most and certainly those in control of the national press organizations. Sharyl Attkission has two excellent books out, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington and her most recent, The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote.

    If the press wants to avail itself of the 1st amendment protection guaranteed under our Bill of Rights, then it needs to conduct itself as an independent truth- seeking organization.

    We’ve seen very little of such. There is little doubt that the national press core is working with entrenched bureaucrats, both Democrats and Republicans, to bring down the Trump presidency. Of course, Trump is not blameless, nor is Sessions.

    Trump’s incompetency in governing was not unexpected, but I did expect more from his cabinet choices. Sessions had no legal obligation to recuse himself, and it still remains a mystery to me as to why he did. Andy McCarthy has a great piece in National Review:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450183/robert-mueller-grand-jury-report-law-crime-military-justice-conduct-unbecoming-impeachment

  4. deleted says:

    What do you think of Barbara’s analysis Thomas?

    For me, I’m just shaking my head. This coming from an individual that purports to hold what the founding father wrote in the Constitution in some high regard. And yet, the words she writes find support nowhere in that document that I’m aware of. (Although I’m willing to re check my copy if a citation is provided)

  5. Steve says:

    More to the point, much of the press lives in liberal bubbles. Literally. In that environment it is easy to believe oneself unbiased by virtue of all the liberal bias surrounding oneself.
    The problem is much worse than we think.

    From no less than Politico:
    The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think
    We crunched the data on where journalists work and how fast it’s changing. The results should worry you.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/25/media-bubble-real-journalism-jobs-east-coast-215048

  6. Barbara says:

    More to the point, much of the press is not independent. This goes beyond personal bias.

    https://voicesofliberty.com/2015/03/04/20-special-interests-within-the-mainstream-media/

    I fully support freedom of the press when we have a free press.

  7. Steve says:

    To be clear, Politico isn’t talking about personal bias.
    It’s talking about centralized regional bias quietly and almost invisibly creating a more biased media overall.

    Special interests exist on all sides of the aisle.

  8. Barbara says:

    What we are seeing now is not just the press favoring one ideology over another in its reporting. It has metastasized into the national media working in conjunction with the entrenched bureaucracy, both Democrat and Republican, to bring down the Trump presidency.

    Before Trump was elected, the national media was complicit in shoring up the Obama presidency as documented by Attkission in Stonewalled. The corruption of the press is more than just ideological bias. Anyone who truly believes in freedom of the press should read her books.

  9. Rincon says:

    Just awful, ain’t it? Tens of thousands of journalists engaged in a grand conspiracy to bring this nation to it’s knees. Where’s James Bond when you need him?

  10. deleted says:

    I think the current terminology Rincon is “vast left wing conspiracy”.

    Maybe we ought to call Ken Starr to investigate?

  11. Steve says:

    If anyone needs to read the Politico story, it’s Patrick.

  12. Advantage…Steve and Barbara!

  13. deleted says:

    HFB:

    Russian judges are the worst.

  14. Steve says:

    read the Politico story, Patrick.

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