By now, many of you have undoubtedly heard of the incident involving Glenn Greenwald’s partner at London’s Heathrow airport. This incident, while ugly, unfortunately does not represent the first time that we have recently seen attempts to intimidate or bully members of the press.
The Obama administration has had some particularly ugly clashes with members of the press. His administration has also been particularly hard on “whistleblowers”, and at times even hinted at prosecution for journalists who help them.
With the NSA scandal growing, it’s more important than ever that we have a powerful, and free, press who is capable of challenging the government on issues like national security. We all will be better served if controversial programs are brought out in the open, where they can be subjected to public debate. And while it must be recognized that intelligence can never be 100% transparent, it seems there is certainly a middle ground where the needs of both government and the people can meet.
This is where the role of investigative journalists come in. Historically, this kind of journalism has served the greater good. While it often angers those in positions of power, the watchdog responsibility of the press has always been protected and recognized.
But these recent attacks against journalists indicate that fine balance may be shifting. If we allow these incidents to continue occurring without taking a stand then we could eventually see the destruction of free press.
Without that press, there is no reason to believe that programs like the NSA’s would ever be brought to light. In all likelihood, our government would only move further into the shadows, where it would be removed from the will of the people. In order to avoid this scenario, we must ensure that journalists are given the latitude necessary to do their jobs.