New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson on Saturday criticized the Obama administration’s leaks investigations, saying they “threaten to rob the public of vital information.”
Two recent stories in the Times — one describing covert U.S. drone strike operations, the other describing America’s expanding cyberwar program — have sparked investigations. President Obama has denounced the alleged leaks, saying that there are “mechanisms in place” to root out those who reveal sensitive information. And Attorney General Eric Holder has assigned two prosecutors to investigate the possible disclosures of classified information.
New York Times investigative journalist David Sanger — author of a new book on Obama’s “secret wars” — denies that his reporting was the result of national security leaks. Abramson over the weekend added that very few of the paper’s investigative reports stem from leaks. “Sensitive stories do not usually just fall into our hands,” she told the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Boston.
Abramson called the issue prosecuting leaks an “urgent matter.” The current White House has launched six leaks prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act — double the number of investigations in previous administrations combined. Abramson defended the publication of sensitive national security information, saying that there has not been a single documented case in which reporting on sensitive information gravely harmed American interests.
“Indeed there has been much more trouble caused when the press has self-censored itself,” she said.
Watch video of Abramson’s speech here.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com