Obama Has Finally Become Dick Cheney - Atlantic Mobile
In Barack Obama's rise to national prominence, when he criticized the Bush Administration for its false claims about WMDs in Iraq, its torture of detainees, and its illegal program of spying on American citizens without warrants, he owed a particular debt of gratitude to a New York Times national security reporter. In a series of scoops as impressive as any amassed during the War on Terrorism, James Risen reported in 2004 that the CIA failed to tell President Bush about relatives of Iraqi scientists who swore that the country had abandoned its weapons program; the same year, he was first to reveal that the CIA was waterboarding detainees in Iraq; and in 2005, he broke the Pulitzer Prize winning story about the secret NSA spying program.
These scoops so embarrassed and angered the Bush Administration that some of its senior members wanted Risen to end up in jail. They never managed to make that happen. But President Obama might. He once found obvious value in Risen's investigative journalism. Its work that would've been impossible to produce without confidential sources and an ability to credibly promise that he'd never reveal their identities. But no matter. The Obama Administration is now demanding that Risen reveal his source for a 2006 scoop about CIA missteps in Iran. If he refuses to cooperate, which is his plan, he faces the possibility of jail time.
Somewhere, Dick Cheney is smiling.
To understand why, a bit of history is required. Risen's national security reporting generally, and especially his scoop about the NSA's warrantless wiretapping, exposed illegal acts at the highest levels of government. Bush Administration officials speculated about having Risen tried and imprisoned for violating the Espionage Act, secretly surveilled his phone calls, and singled him out for harassment even when he was writing the same stories as other national security journalists, he reports in a sworn affidavit filed last week in a Virginia district court. "I was told by a reliable source that Vice President Dick Cheney pressured the Justice Department to personally target me because he was unhappy with my reporting and wanted to see me in jail," the affidavit states. "An organized campaign of hate mail from right wing groups with close ties to the White House was launched, inundating me with personal threats. Meanwhile, protestors supporting the Bush Administration picketed my office."
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