Leonard Downie Jr.
Oct. 7, 2013
Many reporters covering national security and government policy in Washington these days are taking precautions to keep their sources from becoming casualties in the Obama administration’s war on leaks. They and their remaining government sources often avoid phone conversations and e-mail exchanges, arranging furtive one-on-one meetings instead.
“We have to think more about when we use cellphones, when we use e-mail and when we need to meet sources in person,” said Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor of the Associated Press. “We need to be more and more aware that government can track our work without talking to our reporters, without letting us know.”
These concerns, expressed by numerous journalists I interviewed, are well-founded. Relying on the 1917 Espionage Act, which was rarely invoked before President Obama took office, this administration has secretly used the phone and e-mail records of government officials and reporters to identify and prosecute government sources for national-security stories.